Hardly flawless, but, like its past numbers, a showcase of new talent that shores up some developing careers, and pays...



For the 15th anniversary of New Stories from the South, Ravenel stirs up a real gumbo of southern writing: authors of all ages—some first-timers, some long familiar to fans of this essential series.

Ravenel picks from magazines big (The New Yorker) and minuscule (Yemassee) but shows a noticeable bias for writers and writing from The Oxford American, the slick voice of the South that deserves a wider hearing. Ellen Douglas’s expendable preface (a patchwork of quotations) little prepares you for the variety and complexity demonstrated throughout. An homage to Flannery O’Connor (almost de rigueur for the series) is followed by the first published story of Thomas McNeely, a surefire talent who penetrates the sad and pathetic mind of a mentally disturbed killer. The same fierce imagination burns in newcomer D. Winston Brown, whose tale of street violence captures the generational discord among some southern blacks. Tim Gautreaux dishes out a somewhat formulaic tale of a blue-collar young man who can’t quite connect with a woman he picks up hitchhiking, a self-described “handicapped black lesbian” professor of women’s studies. Robert Olen Butler’s “Heavy Metal” seems equally predictable: a girl who grows up in a fundamentalist family begins to find her “own personal Jesus” in body piercing. The romantic stories play with class and gender: a young gay photographer, who thinks he channels electricity, falls for a straight and not-very-good-looking older colleague (“Mr. Puniverse”); a sexy young girl works at her father’s cardboard plant, and seduces a worker as part of her adventure in slumming (“Good-Hearted Woman”); and in Romulus Linney’s Appalachian folk tale, a young woman (“The Widow”) finds her new mate with some clever conjuring. One particularly amateurish piece—a bit of self-consciousness about an MFA program—seems hopelessly out of place here, and has no apparent southern connection.

Hardly flawless, but, like its past numbers, a showcase of new talent that shores up some developing careers, and pays homage to the wonder that is southern fiction.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2000

ISBN: 1-56512-295-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.


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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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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