Although nicely phrased, Lippincott’s melancholy, self-consciously instructive tale offers limited insights.

READ REVIEW

IN THE MEANTIME

The love that dare not speak its name both connects and divides two friends in a group of three.

Lippincott’s third novel (Our Arcadia, 2001, etc.) sprints through the lives of Kathryn, Luke and Starling, devoted friends from the age of five. Luke is the son of an ex-soldier; Starling, “strange and beautiful,” is mixed race and gay. One night in their teens, Star seduces Luke with the aid of a bottle of wine, but the next morning Luke is full of anger and conviction—despite his pleasure the night before—that he’s “not that way.” Time speeds by, as Lippincott points out with references to Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima and the House Un-American Activities Committee. Meanwhile, the trio fulfills its fantasy of a shared apartment in Manhattan. Star, however, fails to achieve his personal ambition—an acting career—and, denied Luke’s love, he leads a life of increasing depression and depravity. Kathryn marries an older, mentally ill poet. Luke, who seems to have no relationships, becomes an editor at a publishing house, but even analysis can’t get him to acknowledge his sexual orientation. Star eventually disappears. Kathryn takes a lover, Peter, who also turns out to have been part of a group of three friends, except this was in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam and Peter lost his pals at Auschwitz. Late in life, Kathryn confesses her affair to Luke, and he reveals to her his regret at not accepting Star’s love.

Although nicely phrased, Lippincott’s melancholy, self-consciously instructive tale offers limited insights.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-59264-200-7

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Toby Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more