A charming, soulful entry into a popular (and often disappointing) genre.


It’s 1984, and Michael Hogan is embarking on the adventure of a lifetime, even if he doesn’t know it.

In Hughes’ (Searching for Paradise, 2015) novel, three friends spontaneously journey to London in search of video production jobs. After only one day of searching with no luck and getting chased out of a library, Mike, Declan, and Luke quickly drop that idea, choosing instead to “make a vacation” out of their troubled luck. The cast sustains this impulsive bent for the duration of the novel, much to the reader’s delight. Decky is the charmer of the group, with a winning, irresistible smile. Luke is a calmer, meditative sort. But Mike, who travels with much less money than his friends, has left America mainly to escape a messy breakup with his neglected girlfriend, Colette, and seems to worry constantly. His financial concerns and his emotional journey offer a welcome anchor to this whimsical coming-of-age–via-travel tale. The group spends a raucous night in London where they argue with a self-proclaimed communist and run from the law. They head to Amsterdam, where Mike butts heads with a snotty, rich college student named Blair, and they narrowly escape a life-threatening situation on their way to the red-light district. Decky leaves the group midway in search of his ancestral roots in Ireland, but Luke and Mike head to Oktoberfest for some sobering discussions of the Holocaust interspersed with scenes of congenial drunkenness. Hughes adds flavor with sketches of other travelers met along the way. Particularly striking is a white South African surfer who dismisses apartheid but reacts with deep feeling to a tour of the Dachau concentration camp. Mike finds himself alone, bouncing between familiar faces and new friends as he explores Greece and Turkey, suffering a particularly brutal ride through the Eastern bloc to arrive in Athens. Throughout it all, Hughes maintains a tension that transforms this meandering tale into one of complex depictions of human compassion.

A charming, soulful entry into a popular (and often disappointing) genre.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-9772-0174-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2018

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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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Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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