An action-packed but uneven comic romp.

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GLENN BECK

LIMP-DICK DETECTIVE

In this novel, a man named Glenn Beck encounters plenty of trouble (any resemblance between the protagonist and the former Fox News commentator is most likely not a coincidence).

“There are a lot of Glenn Becks in the phone book,” the author writes. “This is one of ’em.” This Glenn Beck engages a whore. Is thrown in prison. Gets kidnapped. Twice. Repeatedly soils himself. One through-line holds the tale together: McGrouchpants clearly disdains Beck and takes palpable delight in dropping him into humiliating scenarios. The novel’s subtitle is somewhat misleading. There is no mystery to solve; at some points in the story, the author writes: “Glenn Beck thought, ‘It’s like I’m a detective.’ ” While McGrouchpants declines to offer a mystery, he seems well read. He dedicates the 2016 book to “sanity preservers” Alain Robbe-Grillet, Joan Didion, and William S. Burroughs. He kicks off the novel with quotes by the likes of Cormac McCarthy, Thomas Pynchon, J.G. Ballard, William Gibson, and Pauline Kael. But the work’s subtitle and the author’s pseudonym are an indication of the level of wit. The tale’s second sentence (“The whore was not the one he ordered”) sets the scabrous tone. The bulk of the 200 chapters are one to two sentences. For example: The 45-word Chapter One Hundred Eighty-Three ends with “Something had to give.” The next chapter opens with “Like: Glenn Beck’s bladder.” Along the way, the author delivers some amusing lines and colorful details. And readers who dislike Beck (and Fox News) will likely enjoy the story. But too often McGrouchpants seems to be of the opinion that the mere mention of Beck’s name in a compromising or scatological context is hilarious. Fans of Mel Brooks’ 1968 comedy The Producers may remember the humorous reaction shots of outraged Broadway patrons to the spectacle of Springtime for Hitler. Those will doubtless be the looks on some readers’ faces as they tear through this tale. In comedy, timing is everything, which raises the question: Why would readers in 2020 be interested in a book ridiculing Beck? Beck’s public profile and cultural standing have waned considerably since his Fox glory days when his signature blackboard and onscreen crying jags were brilliantly skewered by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Unfortunately, this novel feels a bit too much and too late.

An action-packed but uneven comic romp.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5323-1592-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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