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SAYONARA BAR

Certain of these chapters might make good short stories, but Barker can’t connect them into a meaningful novel.

Trio of stories centered on a Japanese hostess lounge.

Osaka is the setting for this series of interlinked tales about the search for human connection in a forbidding urban environment. The Sayonara Bar brings together three manic individuals trying to break free from the ghosts that haunt them. Mr. Sato is a devoted “salary man” who spends most of his waking hours at the accounts department of his office. Using work to avoid contemplating his wife’s death (he insists it wasn’t suicide), Mr. Sato lives a life of self-imposed solitude. Meanwhile, Mary, abandoned by her parents as a teen, drifts from England to Japan without much of a plan. Mary is a nomad searching for a man who will serve as a father figure and make her feel loved. She finds herself working as a hostess in the seedy Sayonara Bar, entertaining drunken executives. Each day spent catering to these old letches erodes Mary’s already meager supply of self-esteem. Mistaking lust for love, Mary takes up with a local gang-banger who endangers her life. The final misfit is Watanabe, the dishwasher at the Sayonara Bar. Scrawny and bookish, he is an extraordinary dreamer who imagines a futuristic fantasy life for himself as a supernatural being. He develops a hero-complex and attempts to save Mary, his designated damsel in distress.

Certain of these chapters might make good short stories, but Barker can’t connect them into a meaningful novel.

Pub Date: March 20, 2007

ISBN: 0-312-36210-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2006

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  • National Book Critics Circle Finalist


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THE ROAD

A novel of horrific beauty, where death is the only truth.

Awards & Accolades

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  • National Book Critics Circle Finalist


  • Pulitzer Prize Winner

Even within the author’s extraordinary body of work, this stands as a radical achievement, a novel that demands to be read and reread.

McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, 2005, etc.) pushes his thematic obsessions to their extremes in a parable that reads like Night of the Living Dead as rewritten by Samuel Beckett. Where much of McCarthy’s fiction has been set in the recent past of the South and West, here he conjures a nightmare of an indeterminate future. A great fire has left the country covered in layers of ash and littered with incinerated corpses. Foraging through the wasteland are a father and son, neither named (though the son calls the father “Papa”). The father dimly remembers the world as it was and occasionally dreams of it. The son was born on the cusp of whatever has happened—apocalypse? holocaust?—and has never known anything else. His mother committed suicide rather than face the unspeakable horror. As they scavenge for survival, they consider themselves the “good guys,” carriers of the fire, while most of the few remaining survivors are “bad guys,” cannibals who eat babies. In order to live, they must keep moving amid this shadowy landscape, in which ashes have all but obliterated the sun. In their encounters along their pilgrimage to the coast, where things might not be better but where they can go no further, the boy emerges as the novel’s moral conscience. The relationship between father and son has a sweetness that represents all that’s good in a universe where conventional notions of good and evil have been extinguished. Amid the bleakness of survival—through which those who wish they’d never been born struggle to persevere—there are glimmers of comedy in an encounter with an old man who plays the philosophical role of the Shakespearean fool. Though the sentences of McCarthy’s recent work are shorter and simpler than they once were, his prose combines the cadence of prophecy with the indelible images of poetry.

A novel of horrific beauty, where death is the only truth.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2006

ISBN: 0-307-26543-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2006

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WITHOUT FAIL

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 6

Relentlessly suspenseful and unexpectedly timely: just the thing for Dick Cheney’s bedside reading wherever he’s keeping...

When the newly elected Vice President’s life is threatened, the Secret Service runs to nomadic soldier-of-fortune Jack Reacher (Echo Burning, 2001, etc.) in this razor-sharp update of The Day of the Jackal and In the Line of Fire that’s begging to be filmed.

Why Reacher? Because M.E. Froelich, head of the VP’s protection team, was once a colleague and lover of his late brother Joe, who’d impressed her with tales of Jack’s derring-do as an Army MP. Now Froelich and her Brooks Brothers–tailored boss Stuyvesant have been receiving a series of anonymous messages threatening the life of North Dakota Senator/Vice President–elect Brook Armstrong. Since the threats may be coming from within the Secret Service’s own ranks—if they aren’t, it’s hard to see how they’ve been getting delivered—they can’t afford an internal investigation. Hence the call to Reacher, who wastes no time in hooking up with his old friend Frances Neagley, another Army vet turned private eye, first to see whether he can figure out a way to assassinate Armstrong, then to head off whoever else is trying. It’s Reacher’s matter-of-fact gift to think of everything, from the most likely position a sniper would assume at Armstrong’s Thanksgiving visit to a homeless shelter to the telltale punctuation of one of the threats, and to pluck helpers from the tiny cast who can fill the remaining gaps because they aren’t idiots or stooges. And it’s Child’s gift to keep tightening the screws, even when nothing’s happening except the arrival of a series of unsigned letters, and to convey a sense of the blank impossibility of guarding any public figure from danger day after highly exposed day, and the dedication and heroism of the agents who take on this daunting job.

Relentlessly suspenseful and unexpectedly timely: just the thing for Dick Cheney’s bedside reading wherever he’s keeping himself these days.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14861-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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