Delicious cross-genre literary picnic, breezy and fiercely intelligent, reminiscent of Haruki Murakami.


The curiosity of a young academic triggers a journey of wonder and danger.

Ariel Manto, a Ph.D. candidate at a British university, gets an unexpected day off when old tunnels in the campus building adjoining hers threaten to collapse. On the way home, she stumbles onto a much bigger stroke of luck. At a modest bookshop, she comes across a copy of Thomas Lumas’s seminal work, The End of Mr. Y, a mysterious novel often cited but thought to be no longer extant. Serendipitously, Ariel is studying Lumas. Lured to the university by Professor Saul Burlem, Ariel has been writing extensively about science, but from a literary perspective. This makes Lumas—a scientific theorist who wrote books in many genres—an ideal candidate for her research. Shortly after April moved into Burlem’s capacious office, Burlem vanished, presumably on a research project. Ariel begins to devour Lumas’s masterpiece, chunks of which alternate with the main narrative. Mr. Y describes a sort of time travel, into what Lumas calls the Troposphere. Unfortunately, the crucial page that explains how the hero achieves the time-travel trick is missing. Acting on a hunch, Ariel downloads all the information on Burlem’s computer, and just in time. Department secretary Yvonne is about to have all Burlem’s belongings put into storage to make room for two new occupants, the overfriendly Heather and the highly attractive Adam, with whom Ariel feels an immediate attraction. They seem headed for an affair until Adam informs her that he’s a clergyman. Burlem’s computer contains the missing page, which had a formula, the ingredients for which Ariel acquires at a local herbalist. Almost before she knows it, she’s transported to Lumas’s alternate reality, gets chased by CIA-like agents back in her “real” world and indeed drifts toward romance with dreamy Adam.

Delicious cross-genre literary picnic, breezy and fiercely intelligent, reminiscent of Haruki Murakami.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2006

ISBN: 0-15-603161-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Harvest/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2006

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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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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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