God knows what to make of this. We don’t. Spiritual rebirth it’s not.

READ REVIEW

HOMUNCULUS

Style imitates theme in this seriocomic novel, but it’s no more effective than it was in Wintner’s jivey previous effort, The Prophet Pasqual (1999).

Set largely in the hills of Central Mexico, the story is told in a smart, boozy, homuncular (read: grotesque) prose not always to be grasped. Lead character Tony Drury is a drunk from the States; his alter ego is Charles, a drunken actor and egoist, with whom he forms one character. The plot slips like a drinker’s elbow toward the vague regeneration of Tony and aborted saving of Charles. Underpinning in any picture of a completely pickled society, however satirically new-fangled the author’s handiwork, should be some sense of moral outrage. But Wintner seems more than half in love with his easeful metaphysics of the brain-damaged than not, as Tony makes clear early on: “Waiting is natural for spirits adrift . . . so why not drift in good fun with good will in the meantime?” Not badly said, but Wintner fills each page with a vegetative overgrowth of booze pathos and neural map of the pathways of alcohol that in no way carry the force of Under the Volcano, since the pathetic Tony/Charles never achieves the tragic stature of Malcolm Lowry’s Consul. Instead we get at novel’s end: “That time in that place was a last time in a last place. It was another ending, though it begins again elsewhere and people still seek it. Piss and old beer become a stink you get used to, especially after a piss makes room for a new beer. Tony Drury went south and didn’t know it.” Does Tony sober up? For a few days. But boggling hairpins of illogic in the writing, with metaphors left burning in the ashtray, don’t allow much hope.

God knows what to make of this. We don’t. Spiritual rebirth it’s not.

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 1-57962-062-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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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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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

ALMOST JUST FRIENDS

Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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