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THE DRAWING OF THE THREE (THE DARK TOWER, BOOK 2)

Hot on the heels of The Gunslinger (1988) comes the second volume of King's gargantuan alternate-universe omnibus. And not a moment too soon: readers who slogged, downcast, through the murky first installment will find here a brighter, friskier, much more involving read as Roland the Gunslinger takes his quest for the Dark Tower into our world and time. Last seen, Roland sat at the edge of a giant sea, knowing that to achieve the Dark Tower—the hub of creation—he'll need to collect three people: The Prisoner, The Lady of Shadows, and Death. How? By stepping through three doors that protrude from the endless coastline, thus walking into the minds of three citizens of 20th-century N.Y.C. Before Roland opens the first door, however, he's roamed by a "lobstrosity," a claw-snapping sea critter whose bite spins him into a near-fatal fever. So it's a weak and desperate Roland that steps into door #1 and into the heroin-addled mind of punk crook Eddie Dean—The Prisoner—about to be busted for carrying two pounds of coke through customs at Kennedy Airport. Since Roland needs to cohabit Eddie's body to find medicine for his fever, he talks the addict through customs and a subsequent confrontation with Eddie's vicious mob-boss—and then, penicillin in hand, drags the addict back into Gunslinger-world, where the two bond as Roland heals while Eddie withdraws. Up pops door #2: The Lady of Shadows turns out to be a crippled, beautiful, Jekyll-and-Hyde black woman; Eddie falls in love with Jekyll but crazed, murderous Hyde nearly kills both Eddie and Roland before the Gunslinger merges the two personalities into a third, Susannah. Behind door #3, Roland finds Death—who turns out to be a psycho killer, and then, in a typical King turn of poetic justice, Roland himself. Prime King, very suspenseful and often quite tunny during Roland's stranger-in-a-strange-land forays into Gotham, with psychologically dense characters, reams of virtuoso horror writing, and little of the sophomoric portentousness of the early volume (which King began in college; this volume was penned recently). In an afterword, King previews volumes 3 and 4: an epic in the making, and, if the quality of this one sustains, a series to be savored as it grows.

Pub Date: March 1, 1989

ISBN: 0451210859

Page Count: 320

Publisher: New American Library

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1989

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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THE RUMOR

Once again, Hilderbrand displays her gift for making us care most about her least likable characters.

Hilderbrand’s latest cautionary tale exposes the toxic—and hilarious—impact of gossip on even the most sophisticated of islands.

Eddie and Grace Pancik are known for their beautiful Nantucket home and grounds, financed with the profits from Eddie’s thriving real estate company (thriving before the crash of 2008, that is). Grace raises pedigreed hens and, with the help of hunky landscape architect Benton Coe, has achieved a lush paradise of fowl-friendly foliage. The Panciks’ teenage girls, Allegra and Hope, suffer invidious comparisons of their looks and sex appeal, although they're identical twins. The Panciks’ friends the Llewellyns (Madeline, a blocked novelist, and her airline-pilot husband, Trevor) invested $50,000, the lion’s share of Madeline’s last advance, in Eddie’s latest development. But Madeline, hard-pressed to come up with catalog copy, much less a new novel, is living in increasingly straightened circumstances, at least by Nantucket standards: she can only afford $2,000 per month on the apartment she rents in desperate hope that “a room of her own” will prime the creative pump. Construction on Eddie’s spec houses has stalled, thanks to the aforementioned crash. Grace, who has been nursing a crush on Benton for some time, gives in and a torrid affair ensues, which she ill-advisedly confides to Madeline after too many glasses of Screaming Eagle. With her agent and publisher dropping dire hints about clawing back her advance and Eddie “temporarily” unable to return the 50K, what’s a writer to do but to appropriate Grace’s adultery as fictional fodder? When Eddie is seen entering her apartment (to ask why she rented from a rival realtor), rumors spread about him and Madeline, and after the rival realtor sneaks a look at Madeline’s rough draft (which New York is hotly anticipating as “the Playboy Channel meets HGTV”), the island threatens to implode with prurient snark. No one is spared, not even Hilderbrand herself, “that other Nantucket novelist,” nor this magazine, “the notoriously cranky Kirkus.”

Once again, Hilderbrand displays her gift for making us care most about her least likable characters.

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-33452-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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