MARGERY KEMPE

GlÅck pushes the envelope way too far as he attempts to use the history of a failed, would-be saint from the 15th century to explore his own romantic obsession in the 1990s. GlÅck (Jack the Modernist, not reviewed) admittedly embellishes the autobiography that Margery Kempe wrote during the 1430s to reveal the unhealthy psychology of this Jesus-crazed heretic. Margery is an upstanding woman, daughter of the mayor, wife of John, and mother of 14 children, who loses it when devils begin taunting her. But later, as she lies in the bed to which John has tied her because he's tired of her insane roaring, Jesus pays a visit, loosens her ropes, and inspires a passion that makes Margery swoon just looking at ``the semi-circles of his ass'' and the ``splayed tips of his long toes.'' Margery pretends to go on with her life, but all the while she's really waiting for Jesus in a heightened state of arousal. When he does show up ten years later, it's obvious there's going to be a whole lot of bumping and grinding going on. Unfortunately for Margery, Jesus is distant and cold (he absentmindedly counts his muscle twitchings during sex: `` `I spasmed eleven times,' he mused''), but this only makes Margery want him more. Classic victim mentality? Maybe. But GlÅck likes to think of it as Margery's modus operandi—she wants power, money, sex, prestige, and fame—and she needs Jesus to make the necessary connections to priests, vicars...even to God. If this isn't enough, the author sprinkles in his own unrequited-love story with a pretty little rich boy who refuses to make a commitment. Of course, GlÅck only gathers the strength to present his lover with a live-with-me-or-leave-me ultimatum when he sees how far Margery falls in her desire for the unattainable. Numbingly frenzied, frustrated, and futile.

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 1994

ISBN: 1-85242-334-X

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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