Intriguing ideas, but teasing out meaning from this confusing presentation becomes a challenge.


A superhero comic and what it signifies to a writer who can’t draw becomes the meditative center of this graphic novel.

This unusual work consists of three parts. The first is notes for a comic book roughly indicated on blank forms with spaces for publisher (“HEX”), title, issue, and page number, beginning with two unnumbered pages filled with the word “black” and synonyms (blackness, dark, darkness, inky), along with the word “CORY.” Numbered pages 1 to 20 contain few drawings except for a superhero silhouette, mostly consisting of captions, dialogue, and instructions for the artist on what to draw. For example, “a chance comet shields Doby from the blast” or “still supposed to look like half a skull.” Four more pages, still presented as if on the blank forms, provide a full-color, dialogue-free sequence that bears a tangential relationship to the foregoing. In the last section, titled “My Hero” and no longer using the form backdrop, the author provides autobiographical details about the conception of this story and his growth as a writer, giving thanks to those who contributed. It’s hard to figure out what’s going on in this puzzling offering from Jones (Mapping the Interior, 2017, etc.). Readers gather that Lance and Kenneth, two high school friends, are the creators of a comic book called Dr. Never, “foiler of dastardly deeds,” featuring Stardillo, Korga, and Rexo. They’ve succeeded enough to have a merchandising deal and action figures. This is mixed up with memories and present-day reflections in a baffling manner, with elliptical statements that leave out information (who is Cory, mentioned early on?) or make the reader hunt for it. (The best guidance is the book’s back cover blurb, which explains that Jones and his best friend, who once dreamed of collaborating on superhero comics, now have children of their own who play together, as they once did, and with action figures based on the author’s own comic book.) In addition, the emphasis on how unusual it is to write but not draw a comic seems odd, given the enormous success of Harvey Pekar.

Intriguing ideas, but teasing out meaning from this confusing presentation becomes a challenge.

Pub Date: June 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9986667-0-9

Page Count: 46

Publisher: Hex Publishers

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • National Book Award Finalist


Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?