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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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

FIREFLY LANE

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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