A half-baked and sometimes-disturbing tale.



Meyers (Another’s Fool, 2017, etc.) offers a Western about a 12-year-old who assists his uncles in the capture of an infamous thief.

In 1922, young Bing is the nephew of a sheriff and his deputy in Wilbarger County, Texas. As such, he doesn’t spend his days in school. Instead, his Uncle Jim and Uncle Rube let him tag along on important missions, including collecting prisoners off the local train and locking them up in town. One day, Frank Holloway—the notorious “Oklahoma Yeggman” (the latter term a slang word for “safe-cracker”)—comes to town in chains. He was recently caught for pickpocketing in Chicago, and many people consider him to be a shadow of his former glory. But Uncle Jim believes that the yeggman is as mischievous as ever, and he encourages Bing to treat him as a highly skilled criminal. After Holloway pleads not guilty and gets released until his next court hearing, he ends up robbing the local bank, and Bing joins Jim and Rube as they try to beat him to the Mexican border. The yeggman’s crimes bring to mind those in The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975) and The Sting (1973). As Bing tracks the convict, he observes how the Wild West is disappearing, only to make way for new crimes and punishments. In this way, Meyers effectively shows how the era of the Old West met the Victorian Age. In general, however, the book would have been clearer if it had simply used more pronouns; the author’s style of dialogue often lacks them, resulting in half-formed thoughts and cryptic details: “Going home tomorrow. Won’t stay here, you can bet on that!” Also, the book repeatedly and uncomfortably suggests that older adults find the 12-year-old protagonist to be sexually attractive. For instance, one of Uncle Jim’s friends looks at Bing and comments, “How lips—so ruby red!—impress one as wishing to be pressed with one’s own.” 

A half-baked and sometimes-disturbing tale.

Pub Date: June 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63263-870-0

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Booklocker.com

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2018

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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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.


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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