An unusual, enjoyable novel for readers interested in religious history and speculative fiction.

PRECIPICE

In Joseph’s debut sci-fi novel, there’s intelligent life beyond humanity—and it wants to play a direct role in human progress.

This rollicking book weaves together the stories of a handful of characters whose seemingly normal lives become marked by unexpected, bizarre and apocalyptic events. Kimberly Martin, a young Georgia woman, is plagued by visitations from extraterrestrials who want to use her body for mysterious purposes. She becomes pregnant during a late-night bar encounter, short-circuiting the aliens’ interest. Meanwhile, her brother, Benny, a New York preacher, convenes with a supernatural, otherworldly spirit, and offers up his sister to be a surrogate mother for a new, hybrid species. An insectoid presence known as the Lady visits Sarah Matheson, a student at Calvary Bible College in Texas, and informs her that she will bear a divine son. Chris Altenbrook, a talented football player with a penchant for Biblical prophecy, leaves behind an athletic career and girlfriend to join the priesthood. Later, Sarah’s son, Zack, learns of his place in a vast plan to bring about a new world order. Benny increasingly becomes involved with a mysterious cadre of Vatican reformers, who recruit him to their endeavor; still later, Kimberly’s children, Gabe and Michael, find themselves in danger while studying in West Germany. Beginning in 1969 and progressing in decade-long intervals, this first novel in Joseph’s This Generation series is a suavely futuristic story about a major shift in the paradigms of Western civilization and religion. It effectively combines humanistic sympathy and ambitious speculation about the cosmos’ trajectory. The narrative is steeped in the author’s knowledge of the prophetic traditions of Abrahamic, Eastern and esoteric religions, and engagingly mixes science fiction with psychological drama.

An unusual, enjoyable novel for readers interested in religious history and speculative fiction.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-4808-0785-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2014

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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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Laymon moves us dazzlingly (and sometimes bewilderingly) from 1964 to 1985 to 2013 and incorporates themes of prejudice,...

LONG DIVISION

A novel within a novel—hilarious, moving and occasionally dizzying.

Citoyen “City” Coldson is a 14-year-old wunderkind when it comes to crafting sentences. In fact, his only rival is his classmate LaVander Peeler. Although the two don’t get along, they’ve qualified to appear on the national finals of the contest "Can You Use That Word in a Sentence," and each is determined to win. Unfortunately, on the nationally televised show, City is given the word “niggardly” and, to say the least, does not provide a “correct, appropriate or dynamic usage” of the word as the rules require. LaVander similarly blows his chance with the word “chitterlings,” so both are humiliated, City the more so since his appearance is available to all on YouTube. This leads to a confrontation with his grandmother, alas for City, “the greatest whupper in the history of Mississippi whuppings.” Meanwhile, the principal at City’s school has given him a book entitled Long Division. When City begins to read this, he discovers that the main character is named City Coldson, and he’s in love with a Shalaya Crump...but this is in 1985, and the contest finals occurred in 2013. (Laymon is nothing if not contemporary.) A girl named Baize Shephard also appears in the novel City is reading, though in 2013, she has mysteriously disappeared a few weeks before City’s humiliation. Laymon cleverly interweaves his narrative threads and connects characters in surprising and seemingly impossible ways.

Laymon moves us dazzlingly (and sometimes bewilderingly) from 1964 to 1985 to 2013 and incorporates themes of prejudice, confusion and love rooted in an emphatically post-Katrina world.

Pub Date: June 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-932841-72-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Bolden/Agate

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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