An initially engaging tale of an attorney behaving badly that ultimately instructs more than it entertains.

Divorce Lawyer: A Satyr's Tale

In Silverman’s (What Money Can Buy, 2011) novel, a lawyer faces disbarment after a woman files a sexual grievance against him.

Successful New York attorney Peter Morrissey practices divorce law. His clients are always women seeking lucrative settlements from their soon-to-be exes. As a self-confessed “satyr” (“the male counterpart of a nymphomaniac”), Morrissey routinely propositions his clients, even though the New York Bar Association’s professional standards prohibit such sexual relations, except where a relationship existed prior to the client’s retaining the attorney’s services. A woman named Molly Dixon alleges that Morrissey had sexual intercourse with her while she was his client (and that he billed her for the night). Now the lawyer must answer the charge in court and file a list of his female clients from the past five years, so he hires hard-driving criminal defense attorney William Duffy to represent him. But even as Morrissey faces professional censure and the loss of his livelihood, he still wants to bed his clients, as he finds all women attractive. Still, he hopes for leniency for his hypersexual appetites. The novel starts well with an amusing mix of dark comedy and chew-the-scenery dialogue, as when Duffy differentiates between women Morrissey “plowed” and the few he didn’t. Thankfully, Morrissey isn’t portrayed as a one-dimensional sleazebag; he’s likable despite his peccadilloes and admits that womanizing cost him his marriage. He even donates considerable time and money to Safe Horizon, an organization for victims of domestic violence. Every few pages, meanwhile, the hard-drinking Duffy comes up with another zinger; for example, when he snaps a photo of Morrissey on his cell phone, he says that he plans to hang it in the bathroom: “Every time I’m on the crapper, I’ll think of you.” The author shows considerable expertise in legal strategies and remedies; unfortunately, after the first few chapters, the book seems to be less a novel than a lengthy, point-by-point legal analysis. Legal professionals may be intrigued by this detailed accounting, but it may lack emotional resonance for others.

An initially engaging tale of an attorney behaving badly that ultimately instructs more than it entertains.

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481248938

Page Count: 246

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2013

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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