CHRISTINE

The Exorcist meets My Mother, The Car. . . in a chiller that takes a nifty Twilight Zone notion and stretches it out to King-sized proportions—with teen-gab galore, horror-flick mayhem, epic foreshadowing, and endlessly teased-out suspense. It's 1978 in a town outside of Pittsburgh. Football-player Dennis (the nice, if relentlessly vulgar, narrator) is a high-school senior—as is his best-friend Arnie, pimpled loner and natural victim. But everything begins to go askew on the day that Arnie falls in love at first sight with "Christine," a total wreck of a 1958 Plymouth Fury ("one of the long ones with the big fins") that Arnie buys for $250 from creepy old Roland D. LeBay. Soon, you see, Arnie starts changing: he stands up to his college-teacher parents (manipulative Mom, weak Dad) for the first time; his skin clears up; he gets a sweetly beautiful girlfriend, Leigh. After old LeBay dies, Dennis starts worrying—especially when he learns that the mean old man's wife and daughter both died in. . . Christine. And assorted spooky questions arise: How does Arnie manage to restore Christine to 1958 condition so fast? How does he instantly restore her again after Christine has been savagely attacked by some high-school bullies? And who—if anyone—is driving Christine when the killer-car then starts bloodily bumping off all of Arnie's enemies? (Arnie himself is always out of town when the ghostly hit-and-runs occur.) By this time, of course, girlfriend Leigh is starting to become disenchanted with Arnie—who seems to sit idly by while Christine. . . or something. . . tries to choke Leigh to death. And when even Arnie's handwriting seems to change, Leigh and Dennis become convinced that their friend has been quasi-possessed by the undead soul of evil Roland LeBay (whom they can sometimes even see at the wheel!). So they determine to somehow destroy the indestructible killer-car—in a finale-showdown at Darnell's Garage, with Dennis in a tank-truck and Christine (carrying yet more corpses) on the rampage. Nothing new, horror-wise (remember The Car, a 1977 film-cheapie?), and much too long; but King's blend of adolescent raunch, All-American sentiment, and unsubtle spookery has never, since Carrie, been more popcorn-readable—with immense appeal for all those fans interested in the 522-page equivalent of a drive-in horror movie.

Pub Date: April 29, 1983

ISBN: 0451160444

Page Count: 534

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1983

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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