THE DEAD MAN'S MIND

After joining with a man who can kill with his mind, a 13-year-old telepathic girl learns many secrets in this paranormal novel.

In an unknown coastal town, locals grow up with the legend of notorious murderer Lord Talson, known for his bright yellow eyes, his ability to kill with his mind alone, and his cruelty. He’s based in a massive offshore building that’s “the headquarters of a very powerful and secret society of organized crime” called the Silver Shadows, which keeps tabs on the Thomason family, especially their daughter, Katerina Alicia. At 13, Kat is troubled by dreams of yellow eyes and people screaming in pain. Her father explains that when she was a baby, Lord Talson attacked them both but failed to kill them for unknown reasons and has been lying low ever since. Nevertheless, when Kat receives an invitation to visit him, she accepts. Talson explains that not only doesn’t he want to murder her, he’d like to teach her about her power to connect with and influence another’s thoughts. He also offers her a position among the Silver Shadows. Powerfully curious, Kat joins them, setting her at odds with her father. As Kat learns more about her abilities, repercussions emerge from years-ago events in the Sharktooth Bar, a fishermen’s haunt where a Silver Shadow was killed and another imprisoned for illegal gambling; related to this, Kat’s best friend’s father was killed by Talson. Slowly, more truths emerge about Talson’s and the Silver Shadows’ origins as well as the complicated nature of Talson’s powers, building to a dangerous confrontation in which Kat will have to make some difficult choices affecting many others. In her foreword, debut author Torgersen explains that she began this novel at 16 “with no research, no plan, and no idea of where my plot was headed,” finishing when she was 20. Not unexpectedly, the book betrays the writer’s inexperience and lack of control. It’s often repetitious and clumsy; for example, “ ‘What happened?’ asked Kat, wondering what other strange things might have happened.” There’s an ongoing and unfruitful obsession with how old characters seem to be: Remi Nelson “was thirty-five, but looked forty-five, at best”; John Carl “was thirty-three [but] looked older”; though Kat “thought Talson was much older than thirty-nine…now she thought he looked younger,” and so on. The crime organization is dramatic but not well thought out. For example, Talson’s ability to pay his followers depended on a now-gone gambling operation, so how does he now stay afloat? And why should payment depend on that since Talson can so successfully manipulate minds? Talson’s pronouncements often fail to ring true, such as “anger, pain, and killing” being “the three most complicated things in human existence.” The book’s ideas about mind control are complex but uninteresting and fruitless to remember because Talson lies, changing the rules. In better moments, the book achieves a poignant tone of magical realism, especially in scenes from Talson’s childhood.

Overlong and unengaging.

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4836-1096-2

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2018

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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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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