If Jesse Ventura thinks Garrison Keillor is the enemy, wait till he gets hold of this newest installment in Disch’s luridly entertaining “Supernatural Minnesota” series (earlier offenses include The Businessman, 1984, The M.D., 1991, and The Priest, 1995) The story’s certifiably insane actions occur in and around the rural metropolis of Leech Lake, an unassuming hamlet distinguished only by an old folks” home with a pronounced Native American presence, Navaho House, and nearby New Ravensburg Prison. But things get interesting when ’sub—(stitute teacher) Diana Turney begins recovering memories of sexual abuse by her late father Wes, and is mysteriously drawn to the smokehouse where Wes’s body was found. Diana’s sister Janet is doing time for shooting her unfaithful husband Carl, a guard at New Ravensburg, where inmate Jim Cottonwood, falsely convicted of rape, exercises his ’shaman frame of mind” to commune with shape-shifting comrades. If you think that’s strange, how about Diana’s assumption of witchly powers (Wes still exercises power over her), her nasty habit of turning complacent men into (what else?) pigs, and a revenge plot involving a woman similarly metamorphosed, her hellfire-and-brimstone father, and a virginal teenager obsessed with the newly empowered (hence irresistible) Diana? “It can be unnerving to be stared at by four large pigs,” the omniscient narrator mildly remarks, as part of a godlike commentary that seasons an increasingly bizarre plot with amusing mini-essays on such topics as original sin, the gender wars, Native American folklore, and the morality of vegetarianism. Think Our Town or Winesburg, Ohio on overdoses of Mom’s apple pie and Grandpa’s elderberry wine, and you—ll have an idea of the stomach-churning hilarity of Disch’s impertinent assault on “innocent” Middle America. Over the top, of course—but good, dirty fun anyway, from a stylish satirist who knows how to sling it with the best of them.

Pub Date: July 6, 1999

ISBN: 0-679-44292-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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