FUGITIVE MOON

Faust's novels were well-received in the 1970s, but he couldn't find a publisher in the '80s. Now he delivers his third novel in two years (When She Was Bad, 1994, etc.)—a murder story on which he hangs a broad satire of the contemporary US. Ted Moon is a pitcher for a New York team more or less like the hapless Mets of several years ago. He's talented but has a history of violent behavior, alcoholic blackouts, and long, insane recovery periods at a remote hospital in New Mexico. Unlike Faust's In the Forest of the Night (1993), a meticulously plotted tale set in Central America, Faust's latest has almost no story. Moon is accused of murdering four transsexuals, and to escape arrest he takes off cross-country on a manic binge, finally establishing his innocence—of murder, at least—and rejoining his team in Los Angeles. The reader never really thinks Moon committed the murders. Faust's baseball episodes, the few that there are, are nicely rendered, no doubt because Faust was a professional ballplayer himself. But his interest is in Moon's wild, often hilarious send- ups of sexuality (a sports psychologist who counsels baseball players to plumb their feminine sides and not to be afraid of touching one another), feminism, tabloid journalism (which feeds the public appetite for salaciousness by treating intimate sexual subjects in a ``scientific'' manner), and every species of political correctness—which he gives us while watching TV, ``the black hole,'' in motel after motel. The novel is sharp, sometimes reactionary satire rather like Kingsley Amis at his most vicious, delivered in a circular, mocking, high-flying harangue. Incensed by one of his ex-wives' sensible refusal to let him visit his children, he says, ``It was not the lack of justice that I minded; it was the lack of shame for the lack of justice.'' Faust could be criticized for his indifferent plotting, but Ted Moon's outrageous manic tirade is strong medicine: hits hard, but has a tonic effect.

Pub Date: April 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-312-85398-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1995

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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