A funny, haunting collection that refuses to ward off the “shadow hunting us down.”



Shoemaker’s debut short story collection ranges in style and acquaints characters with prospects that leave them feeling disenchanted, disturbed, and sometimes changed for the better.

Some stories are purely comedic: A suburban stay-at-home dad keeps an earnest diary of his comings and goings and efforts at attracting his wife; an adult Karate Kid fan writes a come-to-Jesus letter to the Karate Kid himself; a self-aggrandizing fiction writer pens a letter that rejects an editor’s rejection; a trip to a giant Swedish furniture store (Ikea, thinly veiled) takes a turn for the darkly—and hilariously—sci-fi. Other stories are somber: The owner of an architecture firm hires illegal immigrants to save money on office cleaning bills and gets caught; Mormon men struggle to reconcile their attachment to religious values with the harm it inflicts upon self and others; adults reconcile who they’d hoped to be with who they are; a group of cynical, burned-out teachers reckon with the murder of a student. With smart, cleareyed prose, Shoemaker depicts the excessiveness of white, upper-middle-class adulthood. His protagonists have bedroom balconies, BMWs, and strollers that “looked like NASA engineers” designed them, details which are juxtaposed against arresting descriptions of rural poverty. In spite of their shortcomings, these protagonists—white male guidance counselors, lawyers, teachers, Mormons—aren’t dismissible as caricatures. Most are intelligent, conflicted men tortured by their decisions to hurt others in the name of protecting their loved ones or their own lives. Unfortunately, female characters are less nuanced. They are props—interns, mothers, wives, romantic interests—that exist to reveal men to themselves. Still, Shoemaker makes sure that no matter how hard they try, the men here can’t ignore that they, the supposed altruistic ones, often do more harm than good.

A funny, haunting collection that refuses to ward off the “shadow hunting us down.”

Pub Date: April 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9835860-2-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: No Record Press

Review Posted Online: July 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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