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HUNTS IN DREAMS

The trick and true pleasure here are in the utterly ordinary context these extraordinary events occur in. Drury never misses...

From the Iowa heartland, Drury (The Black Brook, 1998, etc.) conjures a deceptively simple tale of a family and a weekend, during which the husband steals a gun, the wife runs away, the daughter gains a goat, and also a creepy admirer, the son waits for his mother—and life goes on.

Charles the plumber is a decent guy, maybe a little possessive of his wife, Joan, but on this October weekend he's really starting to come unglued over his late stepfather's shotgun, which the local minister's widow presently owns and won't part with, even though she doesn’t have a history with it, as Charles does. Joan, meanwhile, an exactress now focused on animal rights, flies to the city to give a convention speech to likeminded advocates, glad to escape from the oppressive routine and the latest wrinkle: her daughter, Lyris, now returned to her as a teenager after Joan gave her up as an infant. Lyris, raised in a string of foster homes, draws the weaselly eye of Follard, a young ne'erdowell who once set fire to his parents' house with them still in it. Innocent Micah is just trying to have a normal boyhood. Charles buys his stepdaughter a pet goat, then breaks into the widow's house to claim his gun, thereby getting more than he bargained for. Joan, followed on her trip by the town doctor, starts an affair with him and begins to wonder if she really even wants to go home. Follard takes a tipsy Lyris for a ride and then won't take her home, thus earning a visit from Charles, who trades a knife in the neck for the pleasure of breaking some of the weasel's ribs. Joan calls to say she won’t be back until spring.

The trick and true pleasure here are in the utterly ordinary context these extraordinary events occur in. Drury never misses a beat—the quiet moments dazzle as much the louder ones.

Pub Date: May 5, 2000

ISBN: 0-395-94113-X

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2000

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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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