The eighth edition of this annual anthology is still cosmopolitan but also slighter and more meta-literary than previously. As before, however, the assortment of writers, mostly British, consists of the well-known as well as the relatively new. Muriel Spark offers ``The Girl I Left Behind Me,'' a sketch about a woman who lives in a boardinghouse and has a drudge of a job—the piece finishes with an abrupt surreal bang—and Chaim Potok's ``The Seven of the Address'' is a penetrating story about an old writer who has ``lost her way'': she journeys to a ``cell- like'' room in Israel to find her direction again by moving into mysticism. As almost always in Winter's Tales, Laura Kalpakian also puts in an appearance—here with ``Swann Song,'' a long, zany satire of a conglomerate that takes over a newspaper and of the fired journalists who fight back and win the day. Of the other pieces here: ``Sister Monica's Last Journey,'' by Richard Austin, tells of the odd journey of a dead nun to her resting place; ``Another Kind of Cinderella,'' by Angela Huth, subtly chronicles the travails of a violinist henpecked by his aging mother and lovelorn over a lesbian musician; ``The Death of Daffy Duck,'' by Peter Goldworthy, is about the decline of a friendship between two couples after one of the men chokes on his food and the other saves him. These are all good solid efforts, but the standouts are Will Self's ``The Indian Mutiny,'' about grade-school boys who force a teacher into a breakdown, and Monica Furlong's ``Carla, Cara,'' set in 1939, about Franz, an ÇmigrÇ for whom Carla, a sort of Lady Brett Ashley in miniature, is a ``talisman warding off terror and grief and hatred and loss''—until she turns on him. Like the others, the general quality of these never-before- published stories is still high.

Pub Date: May 17, 1993

ISBN: 0-312-08922-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


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.


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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