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THE CLASP

This novel about a chain of interlinked friends on the brink of their 30s has a few overly manufactured plot elements but...

This debut novel from a bestselling essayist follows a circle of friends on a quest to find a priceless necklace and regain an even rarer treasure: a genuine connection.

This trenchant first novel from the author of I Was Told There'd Be Cake (2008) and How Did You Get This Number (2010) is about a necklace; Guy de Maupassant’s classic short story, “The Necklace”; and an interconnected circle of friends from college who, like beads on a broken necklace, have dispersed and rolled off on different paths. Some of these young people have gotten lost—or lost some essential part of themselves—along the way as they hurtle toward their 30s, watching their 20s blur by and disappear in the rearview mirror. While the luckier (wealthier, more successful) of them marry and move toward parenthood, three of the pals—hapless, unemployed data-crunching Brooklynite Victor; charismatic yet not quite successful LA screenwriter Nathaniel; and clever, spritelike Kezia, whose job working for an offbeat jewelry designer in Manhattan is, she fears, hardening her soul—all single, are beginning to wonder if they're wasting their lives pursuing goals as false and worthless as a paste gemstone. Crosley’s smart, sardonic, sometimes-zany, yet also sensitive story is told from the alternating perspectives of these three linked characters, taking the readers along as they reunite first for a friend’s wedding in Miami and then again for a road trip in France, setting off from Paris in pursuit of, yes, a priceless necklace but also of things far more valuable: the truth about themselves and one another, a genuine sense of purpose (or, at least, an antidote to their approaching anhedonia), and, perhaps most precious of all, a connection to one another.

This novel about a chain of interlinked friends on the brink of their 30s has a few overly manufactured plot elements but overall is a real gem.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-12441-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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HOUSE OF LEAVES

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and...

An amazingly intricate and ambitious first novel - ten years in the making - that puts an engrossing new spin on the traditional haunted-house tale.

Texts within texts, preceded by intriguing introductory material and followed by 150 pages of appendices and related "documents" and photographs, tell the story of a mysterious old house in a Virginia suburb inhabited by esteemed photographer-filmmaker Will Navidson, his companion Karen Green (an ex-fashion model), and their young children Daisy and Chad.  The record of their experiences therein is preserved in Will's film The Davidson Record - which is the subject of an unpublished manuscript left behind by a (possibly insane) old man, Frank Zampano - which falls into the possession of Johnny Truant, a drifter who has survived an abusive childhood and the perverse possessiveness of his mad mother (who is institutionalized).  As Johnny reads Zampano's manuscript, he adds his own (autobiographical) annotations to the scholarly ones that already adorn and clutter the text (a trick perhaps influenced by David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest) - and begins experiencing panic attacks and episodes of disorientation that echo with ominous precision the content of Davidson's film (their house's interior proves, "impossibly," to be larger than its exterior; previously unnoticed doors and corridors extend inward inexplicably, and swallow up or traumatize all who dare to "explore" their recesses).  Danielewski skillfully manipulates the reader's expectations and fears, employing ingeniously skewed typography, and throwing out hints that the house's apparent malevolence may be related to the history of the Jamestown colony, or to Davidson's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a dying Vietnamese child stalked by a waiting vulture.  Or, as "some critics [have suggested,] the house's mutations reflect the psychology of anyone who enters it."

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and cinema-derived rhetoric up the ante continuously, and stunningly.  One of the most impressive excursions into the supernatural in many a year.

Pub Date: March 6, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-70376-4

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2000

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OF MICE AND MEN

Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Steinbeck refuses to allow himself to be pigeonholed.

This is as completely different from Tortilla Flat and In Dubious Battle as they are from each other. Only in his complete understanding of the proletarian mentality does he sustain a connecting link though this is assuredly not a "proletarian novel." It is oddly absorbing this picture of the strange friendship between the strong man and the giant with the mind of a not-quite-bright child. Driven from job to job by the failure of the giant child to fit into the social pattern, they finally find in a ranch what they feel their chance to achieve a homely dream they have built. But once again, society defeats them. There's a simplicity, a directness, a poignancy in the story that gives it a singular power, difficult to define.  Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 1936

ISBN: 0140177396

Page Count: 83

Publisher: Covici, Friede

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1936

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