Next book

AN UNEXAMINED LIFE

A melancholy reflection on one man’s life, highlighted by complex characterization.

In Long’s debut novel, a terminally ill man tries to reconcile with his past.

New Yorker Neal Landrum has a routine checkup that reveals a serious medical condition, and he’s told that he only has a few months left to live. Stunned, he decides to dedicate his remaining days to tracking down an old college girlfriend, Joan Elroy. After finding someone with her name in New Mexico, Neal lies to his wife, buys a car, and hits the road. As he makes his way southwest, his thoughts turn to his past, starting with the claustrophobic environment in which he grew up. He was raised by devoutly religious parents who kept him and his brother, Joe, isolated from the rest of their town, and he only managed to escape after meeting Joan, the daughter of a new high school teacher. He became close with her and her father, eventually dating her and attending the same college as she did. But when her father had a stroke, Joan left school to care for him. Neal cruelly turned his back on her and ended up marrying a rich, popular young woman named Susan Murphy and entering her family’s business. When present-day Neal eventually arrives in New Mexico, he’s disappointed that the woman he finds isn’t his old lover, but a young artist. He quickly realizes, however, that there’s more to her than meets the eye. There are some plot points that are sure to raise readers’ eyebrows; in particular, a “deal” struck between two key characters is so unbelievable that it borders on silly. On the whole, however, this novel takes a bold look at the life of a dying man. Neal is far from perfect, and the novel is unflinching in its commitment to showing him as a three-dimensional human being, with all of his flaws on full display. Even though he’s dying, the plot never handles him with kid gloves, and his past is revealed to be far more complicated than his memories suggest. The story also offers a cast of supporting characters with unexpected depth.

A melancholy reflection on one man’s life, highlighted by complex characterization.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9991810-2-7

Page Count: 246

Publisher: Yellow City Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2018

Categories:

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 41


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

Next book

A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 41


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Categories:
Next book

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

Categories:
Close Quickview