A worthwhile read despite a simplification that might put some readers off.

THE LAST RESORT

Novelist Milton’s (The Godmother, 2018, etc.) political and ideological thriller is “ripped from the headlines” and should come with a trigger warning for Trump followers.

The book starts off with a bang, literally. Elsa Romero and Karl Reinholdt are facing off at a demonstration for immigrants’ rights. Her sign reads “LOVE WILL PREVAIL”; his, “MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN.” A shot rings out, and the gun lands at Karl’s feet. Instinctively he picks it up. But Elsa knows that Karl didn’t fire the fatal shot and tells the police so. Thus begins what may be called “The Salvation of Karl Reinholdt.” Karl fell in with the “alt-right” after the factory that supported the town of Freiburg, Ohio, shut down. He lost his job there, and his parents saw their pensions halved. Enraged and depressed, he was eventually persuaded to blame immigrants. Elsa and her friend and mentor, Sister Solana, are both immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Elsa takes Karl in. They begin to trust one another, and ever so slowly, Elsa deprograms him, so to speak. Let it be said that Milton’s heart is in the right place. We are happy to cheer Elsa and Karl on. But it’s rather clear from the start that Karl will be saved, that he is at heart a decent guy and not a racist. Rather, he is an economically displaced white guy desperate to lay blame for how the traditional life he trusted could have come crashing down this way. In fact, one could argue that Milton has made up too easy a case: Karl isn’t the scary true believer who will eventually blow up a mosque or torch a black church. And the scary confrontation with the real killer has a whiff of deus ex machina about it. But these quibbles aside, Milton does a conscientious job of dramatizing the arguments, drawing Elsa and Karl as real people in conflict, and nicely pacing the conversion.

A worthwhile read despite a simplification that might put some readers off.

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73206-342-6

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Nepperhan Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2019

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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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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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