SURVIVOR

From King (The Book of Reuben, 1994, etc), a departure from her familiar fictional environs (the small town of Nodd's Ridge), but a work sharing with her earlier books a decidedly unquaint view of domestic life in Maine. Kristin Mellors (a.k.a. ``Kissy Melons,'' for an obvious physical attribute) starts out the novel by almost killing two fellow students at Sowerwine College. Her car doesn't hit them, but soon after a vehicle driven by a drunk premed student does. One girl dies, the other falls into a coma. Kissy's relationship with the girl in a coma, Ruth Prashker, will haunt her for the rest of the story, as will her involvement with the drunk driver. An aspiring photographer, Kissy is a member of the college's black-clad artsy set, so it's a surprise when she takes up with the star of the school hockey team, Junior Clootie. But if sex is any indication (and it is the principal indication of practically everything here), the two are made for each other. Clootie is bound for the pros, but Kissy's future is less clear. Will she establish her independence from her past, or will the survivors of the accident she witnessed continue to dog her existence? Clootie truly loves her, but he's basically an amiable screw-up. Some ill-advised whoring lands both him and Kissy with the clap and sets a pattern: Clootie will always be trouble, and Kissy will always have trouble staying away. A bizarre tryst with the drunk driver/premed student leaves Kissy pregnant, and she marries Clootie, giving birth to a baby girl. Their marriage goes almost immediately to pieces, though, thanks largely to Clootie's indiscretions and nomadic lifestyle. The author's decision to tack on a conventional thriller ending is questionable, but it scarcely dilutes the impact of this rough-and-tumble, exceedingly realistic, and metaphorically resonant lurch through damaged lives. A novel of great insight and empathy, filled with believable, troubled, complex characters. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 1997

ISBN: 0-525-94241-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

Did you like this book?

Absolutely enthralling. Read it.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

NORMAL PEOPLE

A young Irish couple gets together, splits up, gets together, splits up—sorry, can't tell you how it ends!

Irish writer Rooney has made a trans-Atlantic splash since publishing her first novel, Conversations With Friends, in 2017. Her second has already won the Costa Novel Award, among other honors, since it was published in Ireland and Britain last year. In outline it's a simple story, but Rooney tells it with bravura intelligence, wit, and delicacy. Connell Waldron and Marianne Sheridan are classmates in the small Irish town of Carricklea, where his mother works for her family as a cleaner. It's 2011, after the financial crisis, which hovers around the edges of the book like a ghost. Connell is popular in school, good at soccer, and nice; Marianne is strange and friendless. They're the smartest kids in their class, and they forge an intimacy when Connell picks his mother up from Marianne's house. Soon they're having sex, but Connell doesn't want anyone to know and Marianne doesn't mind; either she really doesn't care, or it's all she thinks she deserves. Or both. Though one time when she's forced into a social situation with some of their classmates, she briefly fantasizes about what would happen if she revealed their connection: "How much terrifying and bewildering status would accrue to her in this one moment, how destabilising it would be, how destructive." When they both move to Dublin for Trinity College, their positions are swapped: Marianne now seems electric and in-demand while Connell feels adrift in this unfamiliar environment. Rooney's genius lies in her ability to track her characters' subtle shifts in power, both within themselves and in relation to each other, and the ways they do and don't know each other; they both feel most like themselves when they're together, but they still have disastrous failures of communication. "Sorry about last night," Marianne says to Connell in February 2012. Then Rooney elaborates: "She tries to pronounce this in a way that communicates several things: apology, painful embarrassment, some additional pained embarrassment that serves to ironise and dilute the painful kind, a sense that she knows she will be forgiven or is already, a desire not to 'make a big deal.' " Then: "Forget about it, he says." Rooney precisely articulates everything that's going on below the surface; there's humor and insight here as well as the pleasure of getting to know two prickly, complicated people as they try to figure out who they are and who they want to become.

Absolutely enthralling. Read it.

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984-82217-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Hogarth/Crown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more