An overly expository but moving tale of love and marriage.

EARTH'S IMAGINED CORNERS

BOOK 1 OF THE ROUND EARTH SERIES

A young couple tries to make their marriage work under the trying circumstances of the American West during the1880s.

Linse (Deep Down Things, 2014) has set her first historical novel in the Old West. Sara Moore begins the novel as a dutiful daughter, caring for her siblings and her widowed father. However, when her father attempts to arrange a marriage for her with his odious business partner, Chester O’Hanlin, Sara refuses and is savagely beaten by her father. Her path soon overlaps with that of James Youngblood, an ex-convict trying to redeem himself and making his way by doing odd jobs. Sara and James meet unexpectedly and are instantly attracted to each other. When Sara eventually finds herself cast out by her father, she impulsively decides to elope with James. Linse handles the natural complications and ramifications of that decision and the ups and downs of marriage very well. Her stark, spare style evokes the realities of the obstacles that Sara and James cope with as they set out for Kansas City and try to carve out a life together amid the “hundred thousand individual voices, mournfully calling” on the city streets. There are a few too many instances where Linse’s characters tell their feelings instead of demonstrating them organically. The narrative progression of the novel is a little uneven as well: it drags a bit in the middle only to speed up to a wildly dramatic climax and denouement. But on the whole, Linse has done an admirable job telling the story of a marriage and of the particular time and place that shaped it.

An overly expository but moving tale of love and marriage.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2015

ISBN: 978-0990953319

Page Count: 472

Publisher: Willow Words

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2015

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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