This fast-paced novel of Jewish manners by former Ms. magazine contributing editor and film-industry watcher Dworkin (Double De Palma, 1984, etc.; and Stolen Goods, a novel, 1987) starts out funny, grows passionate, complex, and ambitious, and ends on a tame, bitter note that leaves the reader wondering what all the fuss has been about. Its heroine is the conventional but tough-as-nails Mrs. Candy Shapiro, a Long Island doctor's wife, mother of two, homemaker, president of her Hadassah chapter, who's creamily fat, dressed from head to toe by Saks, and not going to take it anymore: She's discovered that her widely respected husband Marty is cheating on her with numerous women, and she's arrived at the Atlantic City hotel casino owned by her father's powerful old friend, mafioso Orpheo Pastafino, to ask for ``help and guidance.'' But she comes on a night of strange cataclysms, when brilliant stand-up comedian Heimlich goes into a trance and spouts a prophecy in Hebrew and loses his sight, just as a tidal wave rolls in, creating panic and destruction. Heimlich, a wonderful, crotchety, ironic man who's secretly in love with the casino's headlining star, Tina Turnerlike Alisette Legrand, gets shut up in a California hospice; and he and Alisette spend the next two years trying to find each other again, made especially difficult when Alisette is kidnapped and almost killed by a band of white supremacists. Meanwhile, Candy takes a lover, courts the friendship of an aspiring female politician named Carol O'Banyon, and, using her considerable organizational skills, arranges for a police raid on gunrunners keeping their contraband in her lover's rented house in Queens. Just as meaning promises to emerge from all of this, however (e.g., that women are the real soldiers in the war for peace and justice), another round of minor debacles breaks out, none of which are desirable or believable; cumulatively, they reduce Dworkin's magical realism to bathos and ennui. High spirits, a cast of thousands: a near-miss.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 1996

ISBN: 1-56858-078-9

Page Count: 356

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.


Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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

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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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