CUJO

King goes non-supernatural this time—and the result, despite the usual padding, is a tighter, more effective horror novel. We are once more up in Castle Rock, Maine, ayuh, where the natives are striving to survive some earlier King visitations of the unspeakable. Recent arrival Vic Trenton, who has brought a big ad account with him from New York, is having a hard time hanging onto both the Sharp cereals campaign and his wife Donna, who has just severed an affair with a filthy-poet/furniture-stripper. Meanwhile: Joe Camber, an alcoholic auto mechanic, is angry at wife Charity for wanting to take their son Brett on a visit to her folks (he's afraid Brett will get a taste of sane family life that will show up Joe's madness), but finally—figuring that he'll have a hot time while she's gone—Joe agrees. And all of this sets the scene for some big, extended horror sequences hi Joe's yard. You see, Brett's 200-pound St. Bernard ("Cujo") has chased a rabbit into a big hole also occupied by bats, and a rabid bat bites Cujo's nose. Soon the dog is acting queerly, slavering, and going mad with a headache that warps his thinking about men: Cujo is lost in a mist and can't be found the day Charity and Brett leave. The first to die is Joe's buddy Gary Pervier—who lives just down at the foot of the hill from Camber's yard and crosses Cujo hi his own yard. Later, when Joe finds Gary's body he himself has but two minutes or so to live. And next Donna's car breaks down, so she drives it into Camber's yard with her four-year-old Tad: they're attacked in their car and kept there for three days, even after an investigating cop is killed. Finally, then, there's the dog-versus-woman showdown as savaged Donna, now half-crazed, kills Cujo with a ballbat—but it's too late to save Tad, whose heart gives out. . . . The inevitable film is going to be hard on St. Bernards and may even seriously affect their good-guy image. But, the ASPCA notwithstanding, there's no denying that King's three-day vigil in the carnage has a solid hook that will hold his fans; and his Maine humors do offer witty relief. so once again. . . the moola will flow.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1981

ISBN: 0451161351

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1981

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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