Tender, witty, and articulate with a satisfying conclusion; should appeal to readers who never tire of one more dog tale.

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DOG TALES

In this debut autobiographical novel, a man pays tribute to the many canines that have enriched his life.

Although the book’s narrator doesn’t actually remember the stray black-and-white dog his grandparents took in when he was a child, the family story about his relationship with the pup named Pete previews what would become a lifelong connection to a delightful assortment of canines. The narrator’s mom found the pair lying side by side on the living room rug: “Pete was chewing one of my wood toys to splinters. I was gnawing on one of his old bones.” Now, decades later, the narrator walks to a park with Pippa and Pershing (two of his three current dogs) and ruminates about canines and the changes he has witnessed across the decades. Expecting two important calls during this walk, he muses: “I was struck by how new it all was. Grandparents with one phone, parents with extensions upstairs and down, and me with one I carried in my pocket.” When the narrator left for college, it was the beginning of 15 dogless years, which included “marriage, fatherhood, divorce and visitation.” Then he met Darcy and her dog, Albert: “He looked like the floor part of a push broom.” Eventually, the narrator and Darcy married, and their life together has been filled with canines ever since. At Darcy’s instigation, they began showing Parker, the third member of their current pack. Tankersley (a pen name) informs readers in an author’s note that “the people he writes about are fictional” but “the dogs are not.” Good-humored, conversational prose makes this book a quick, enjoyable read: One breeder “had a ‘how can I help’ you pleasantness like a Siri or Cortina of today” but with a “human undertone of ‘what do you really need?’ ” Yet one section dealing with the Irish derivation of a pup’s name, Grainne, runs on a bit too long. Still, there is an inevitable poignancy sprinkled throughout the novel each time the narrator recalls a beloved companion taking that final trip to the veterinarian. But he doesn’t linger long on those episodes in this lighthearted story. He quickly moves on to the next canine acquisition. 

Tender, witty, and articulate with a satisfying conclusion; should appeal to readers who never tire of one more dog tale.

Pub Date: June 17, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Little Creek Press

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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