CLOSET CASE

Clever, lightweight entertainment from the author of Fag Hag (1992—not reviewed): a broad farce about a Chicago account- executive at an ad agency populated by homophobes who lives through a series of embarrassing misadventures—before screaming out his sexual preference to the world. Lionel Frank is a nervous Nellie who pretends by day to be one of the macho boys but at night frequents dance bars and yearns for a male lover. Fortunately, he thinks, the art director at the agency is a lesbian, thereby directing homophobic attention away from him, but she also happens to frequent the same dance club he does, and sees him panting over a nude dancer's equipment. Lionel at one point gets thrown into jail when he's caught in the middle of a Slavic demonstration, where he meets Emil, a straight medical student he longs for. Mostly, though, he bounces around town either alone or in the company of neighbor and confidante Yolanda—until the whole group is sent packing for a weekend together at the Wild Rose, a resort in Wisconsin. Lionel has a wonderful night with David, the owner's son who is leaving the priesthood (Rodi, at the Wild Rose as elsewhere, takes all the easy potshots, especially at the men's movement). Meanwhile, Bob, Yolanda's on-again off-again lover, turns up at the resort with a spear and beats up Lionel before kidnapping him. Finally, though, having had enough of disguises and duplicity, Lionel rises from the lake like a fish and screams out: ``I'M GAY! I'M GAY! I'M GAY! I'M GAAAY!'' In an epilogue, we learn that he's a happy soul, so outfront he even announces to a Chicago cabbie that he's on his way to meet his male lover. Rodi's caricature of office politics is a hoot—but the comedy here is so one-sided and broad that it often misses its target.

Pub Date: May 6, 1993

ISBN: 0-525-93606-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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