A haunting and keenly observed meditation on relationships, parenthood, and the vagaries of celebrity and fame.



After his girlfriend discovers she is pregnant, a screenwriter and director experiences something that may be a miracle in this novel.

In the 1980s, David Lang captured the cult movie zeitgeist with the low-budget Zombie Film School. The work’s success brought fame, fortune, and marriage to an actress named Rosamundo. Two sequels follow, but by the mid-1990s, David’s marriage ends and he moves to California with his girlfriend, Holly Markham, and works as a script doctor. A writer and singer, Holly enchants David with her beauty and intelligence. In late 1998, Holly discovers she is unexpectedly pregnant. At age 42, she figures this may be her last opportunity to become a mother, but she is ambivalent about the prospect of parenthood. One night, David has a vision of an ethereally beautiful young girl at the head of their bed. The vision is brief but profound, and he wonders if he has seen an angel. While they struggle to decide whether to continue with the pregnancy, David prepares to turn his film script The Blemish into a play. When circumstances prompt them to return to New York, David and Holly are faced with pivotal choices that will affect the future of their relationship. The latest novel from Fife (The 13th Boy, 2014, etc.) is a thoughtful and compulsively readable portrait of a man facing intense changes in his career and life. Told through David’s journal entries and excerpts from his unfinished novel, Accident of Nature, the narrative is inventive and fast-paced. The tale primarily centers on David and Holly and the effect of her pregnancy on their relationship. The question of whether or not to have the baby is complicated by Holly’s struggle with depression. Her story is explored with candor and nuance as her moods shift wildly on a daily basis. In one poignant moment, Holly tells her doctor, “I’m just trying not to drown.” David’s experiences as a script doctor and his efforts to revive his career with the play The Blemish provide well-timed, darkly comic moments.

A haunting and keenly observed meditation on relationships, parenthood, and the vagaries of celebrity and fame.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61457-246-6

Page Count: 222

Publisher: Cune

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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