of America's failure to slow down and smell the roses, whatever color they may be.

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SERENDIPITY GREEN

A hideous home-brewed housepaint has unpredictable consequences for the daft residents of a small Ohio town that’s preparing for its annual tourist event, in this second midwestern gothic from Levandoski (Going to Chicago, 1997).

Lawyer D. William Aitchbone, aspiring Republican power-broker of tiny Tuttwyler, Ohio, will let nothing stop him from making this summer's Squaw Days festival the best ever. As the festival's new chairman, Aitchbone (who sees the festival as a launching pad for his political career) is yanking every string he can grab to have the US vice president ride in the annual parade and possibly even judge the pie-eating and tobacco-spitting contests. But should a vice president have to see the drab, unpainted two-story clapboard house of Howard Dornick, the illegitimate son of the town's only war hero? Aitchbone decides to threaten Dornick, the city's maintenance man, with job privatization; as a result, Dornick buys the cheapest paint he can find, mixes in assorted household cleaning fluids, lubricating oils and antifreeze, and slathers on an eye-searing shade of green that contrasts violently with the prim, pearly white Victorians facing the town square. Levandoski's deliberately trite metaphor for the shock of the new has residual effects: spinster librarian Katherine Hardihood falls in love with Dornick and, during a visit to the festival (a tacky sham that celebrates the murder of an Indian princess and her child by Tuttwyler’s founding fathers, and the princess's ghostly forgiveness of the crime), clinically depressed New York commercial color-consultant Hugh Harbinger sees gold in what he trademarks as Serendipity Green. From here on, Levandoski takes his farce down paths less familiar—and less assured. We learn that the town's conflicted personalities are linked to a motormouth Iranian psychiatrist, Pirooz Aram; that a melodramatic secret lurks in a forgotten grave; and that an assassin lurks among the parade’s cheering sightseers. A funny, if formulaic, send-up of heartland hypocrisy slowly ripens into a more interesting but less coherent observation

of America's failure to slow down and smell the roses, whatever color they may be.

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 1-57962-063-9

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2000

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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