A funky sci-fi satire with something for everyone, but perhaps not quite what they expected.

DEMOLITION NIGHT

A time-traveling insurgent makes plans to kill the mother of an authoritarian president in this acid satire of commerce, society, and social media.

Longtime New York City journalist and recent New York State Senate candidate Barkan skewers American society in this mashup that jams a dystopian time-travel story into a 1970s private-eye novel. First, we meet Archie London circa 1979, a prototypical, sullen ex-cop–turned–private dick slumming around the city, fighting crime at night as a masked hero named “Vengeance,” and nursing an aching crush on 20-year-old firebrand Lolita Velez. Meanwhile, in the 21st century, a charismatic president named Octavio Velez has transformed the country into a virtual slave state, where everyone works to boost corporations and brands over people. The key to this repression is a device called “The Gaggle,” a kind of souped-up social media platform that consumes the populace: “The system encouraged ephemeral interaction, thought and language facilitated by technology that could never undo the cancerous status quo because they were, by definition, the status quo, and suicide was so taboo.” In the midst of all this, a multibillionaire named Chase Dimon announces a splashy event to take his son back to the Jurassic Age using his company’s spanking new time machine. But the experiment fails, sending them back to 1979, where Dimon meets a poor end. Following the incident, a fierce dissenter named Sundra Glassgarden plots to use the time machine to travel to 1979 to murder Octavio Velez’s mother and the love of Archie's life, Lolita, before Octavio can be born. Barkan’s punchy prose is terrific, but the novel never really crystallizes, shifting amorphously from superhero satire to gritty urban noir, punctuated by first-person chapters that sometimes disrupt the third-person flow. There's a dash of Bradbury, a healthy helping of Anthony Burgess, a scary reflection of our Orwellian times, and a bit of kink in Devora, Chase Dimon’s strap-on–wielding dominatrix widow.

A funky sci-fi satire with something for everyone, but perhaps not quite what they expected.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-07138-0

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Tough Poets Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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