A puzzling satire that denounces America’s treatment of veterans.



This second edition of a debut illustrated satire critiques the U.S political system.

The animals in the Land of Plenty are being taken advantage of by their crooked and do-nothing government. The rats and snakes that toil on the Hill barely do any work, taking long vacations and accepting gifts from special interest groups. There is a Bald Eagle who is always watching over and listening in on the other animals. The House is composed of rattlesnakes, while the Senate is made up of phantom snakes. The rats, mice, and rabbits who assist them do so under strict rules, including wearing a paper collar: “The paper collar is made out of colored papers that are cut into half-inch strips, rolled, and attached with spit to stay together. It is required by Uncle Big Rat regulations and the other chief rats for showing control.” The military comprises Mighty Mice, who are entitled to services at the Squeaky Hospital, though the rats often find ways of denying these to the warriors. The public is composed of sheep who do and say nothing despite the mistreatment of the Mighty Mice by Uncle Big Rat because they have been brainwashed by the media. The text is accompanied by black-and-white illustrations by Zaborsky. The reader gets the basic sense of what Skyler’s point is—that Washington is corrupt and abandons veterans—but the satire is far too inarticulate to be effective. The nuances of the author’s message are lost beneath the messy layer of jargon that has been laid on top of the targets. Many words are written backward for no apparent reason. (The rat chiefs are heads of departments like “Namuh Secruoser” and “Enicidem.”) The syntax is highly awkward, and no real story ever emerges. This feels much more like the background notes for the world of a planned narrative rather than a narrative itself. Even Zaborsky’s images feel like sketches rather than final products. While surely readers will agree that the federal government has mishandled veteran heath care for many years, this book fails to make that argument in a persuasive or comprehensible way.

A puzzling satire that denounces America’s treatment of veterans.

Pub Date: May 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-942901-35-8

Page Count: 110

Publisher: Skyler Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2017

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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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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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