Next book

HOWLING AT THE MOON

A superbly wrought set of tales, as beguiling as a midnight serenade.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Ineffectual, exuberant cries of protest are among the many ripostes to life’s absurdities in this scintillating collection of stories.

The conundrums in which Mayfield’s characters find themselves run the gamut from loveless marriage to familial die-off to disappointment on a truly epic scale. In the mordantly funny title story, a man arrives at his mother’s funeral only to be presented with a coffin containing the wrong corpse—and ends up mourning the beatific stranger more than he does his own flesh and blood. In the moving “Reliquary,” a husband who has devotedly tended his paralyzed wife for 20 years (her only means of communication are blinks and expressive eye rolls) suddenly discovers that he’s the dependent partner in the relationship. “The Next One” finds a young white schoolteacher in New Orleans in over her head when she reaches out to a troubled black student. And the simultaneously sardonic and elegiac “Which Way’s Ireland?” imagines Charles Lindbergh’s luckless double: a young flier who sets out on a solo crossing of the Atlantic in 1927, only to wind up in the most humiliating possible place. The author moves confidently across a range of registers, from the raucous cynicism of “Food Chain,” which casts Manhattan as a state of nature where everyone is both predator and prey, to the fraught pathos of “Mothers,” in which the parents of a pregnant teen, anxious that she arrange her life perfectly, pressure her to have an abortion. He writes with a deadpan wit and a limpid prose style shot through with flashes of eyeball-searing imagery. (“…head quivering, his slack-jawed mouth fixed in a jagged cracked egg of a grin as if he’s about to add a ha-cha-cha-cha like Jimmy Durante,” reads his unforgettable thumbnail of a New York street weirdo.) More than that, Mayfield has a sharp psychological acuity that really gets under the skin of his characters as they mount sublimely inappropriate responses to tragi-comic predicaments.

A superbly wrought set of tales, as beguiling as a midnight serenade.

Pub Date: April 29, 2010

ISBN: 978-0975331415

Page Count: 146

Publisher: Mount Parnassus Press

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2010

Categories:

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 38


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

Next book

A LITTLE LIFE

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 38


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

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

Categories:
Next book

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

Categories:
Close Quickview