by Stuart Stevens ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 28, 2016
In an era as politically mercurial as our own, even the most far-fetched events depicted here sound utterly plausible—except...
That title may be the biggest of this satiric thriller’s red herrings, since, as far as this book is concerned, there are no innocents in the political process.
A charismatic right-wing Republican populist with a hectoring anti-immigrant riff is running for president, and the only person who can slow his roll is a woman moderate with ties to the outgoing administration. No, this book is not about the 2016 presidential campaign. But the fact that even these aspects of the novel are in sync with current events validates its author’s credentials as a cagey veteran political operative. That description applies to crafty, cynical J.D. Callahan, who normally would find a million reasons to avoid going back home to New Orleans except that it happens to be the site of a wide-open GOP convention pitting his candidate, incumbent Vice President Hilda Smith, against Colorado Gov. Armstrong George, who’s running on a platform powered by anti-terror paranoia as exemplified by what J.D. characterizes as “the crazy train of his wacky New Bill of Rights.” Callahan’s efforts to match the Veep’s steely rationality against George’s xenophobic bluster are bumrushed by bombs scattered throughout Crescent City that panic the locals and scare some of the fence-sitting delegates into George’s rising column of support. As J.D. struggles to keep both his head and his client in the game, he’s also got to deal with vicious backbiting from within the Smith staff, somewhat irrational (and also improbable) suspicions from the FBI that J.D. himself is somehow responsible for the bombs, a sexy gossip columnist with informed knowledge of serious firearms, and a pair of estranged half siblings with dubious issues of their own, one a pardoned felon seeking his brother’s help for a run at state office, the other an ex–GI–turned–skinhead strip-club owner. These and other characterizations are as quirky as J.D.’s rueful, acerbic commentaries, which make up the best part of this fast-paced carnival of bile, guile, and blow-ups.In an era as politically mercurial as our own, even the most far-fetched events depicted here sound utterly plausible—except for maybe one thing: moderate Republicans? Really? What are those?
Pub Date: June 28, 2016
Page Count: 272
Review Posted Online: March 29, 2016
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
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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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by Harper Lee ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 11, 1960
A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.
Pub Date: July 11, 1960
Page Count: 323
Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960
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