No surprises, but provides some excellent evidence for anyone who wants to argue that Spenser’s creator has been writing...

BRIMSTONE

Freelance gunslingers Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch (Resolution, 2008, etc.) ride into yet another town and treat it to another baptism of fire.

Though he hasn’t seen Allie French for a year, Virgil has never given up hope of finding her again. Riding south with sidekick and amanuensis Everett, he catches up with her in Placido, Texas. Virgil and Everett spirit her off in jig time, but the magic doesn’t return so easily. Everett can spot the problem with Virgil right off: “With Allie he was different. I didn’t like different.” Clearly it’ll take something special to rekindle the flame—something like the job Virgil and Everett are offered as deputy sheriffs in nearby Brimstone, “an actual town” that’s more than just a collection of gamblers, drunks and whores. Val Verde County sheriff Dave Morrissey is concerned by the growing tension between Pike, a gang leader who’s opened a perfectly law-abiding saloon, and Brother Percival, a firebrand revivalist determined to close down every watering hole in Brimstone. With each saloon Brother Percival shutters, his mission sets him more clearly on a collision course with Pike. The episodic plot prescribes some preliminary skirmishes: the kidnapping of a slain rancher’s wife and daughter by a Comanche brave with a grudge against Pike; their rescue by Virgil and Everett and a half-breed tracker they’ve hooked up with; and their traumatic difficulties readjusting to life in Brimstone. But there’s never any doubt that all this is heading to a climactic showdown between Pike and Brother Percival, followed by a post-climactic showdown between Virgil and his friends and the sole survivor, according to the iron rule that governed Virgil’s first two adventures: “Let the vermin fight to the death and then pick off the winner.”

No surprises, but provides some excellent evidence for anyone who wants to argue that Spenser’s creator has been writing nothing but westerns for 35 years.

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-15571-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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