A post-punk crack at Hollywood’s legacy that’s funnier than its predecessor, and just as cringe-inducing.

SICK CITY

Another slice of drug-inspired ultraviolence from O’Neill (Down and Out on Murder Mile, 2008, etc.).

The author once again plumbs the depths of his dope days with this inspired comedy of errors. A bigger cast this time lends his acid humor more room to grow, as he brings a motley crew of addicts, charlatans, TV whores and desperate johns together in a send-up of Hollywood capers. Our protagonists are Jeffrey and Randal, two deeply flaky addicts from different sides of the scene. As the novel opens, beta-male Jeffrey has found that his sugar daddy, Bill—ex-cop, kink connoisseur and witness to the worst of the '60s—is as dead as disco. With the paranoia that only primo stuff can inspire, Jeffrey empties out the old man’s safe and makes a run for a celebrity rehab center. The center, Clean and Serene, is run by the most scathingly funny character in the book, Dr. Mike, a TV-addiction guru who trades drugs to transvestite prostitutes to feed his own little jones. And no one writes about detox like O’Neill, who knows this territory firsthand: “As the dope worked its way out of his system, he sweated and twisted on the thin mattress and his dreams were vivid, full-color nightmares of pure, white Chinese heroin, Bill’s shriveled-up old corpse dancing as if suspended on marionette strings, and rocks of crack the size and shape of boulders.” The book picks up momentum when Jeffrey meets Randal, the son of a legendary Hollywood family who smoked his way past his own father’s funeral. Together, these two disgraced junkies start planning their retirement score—the unloading of a long-forgotten sex tape featuring Sharon Tate, Steve McQueen, Mama Cass and others in full legendary bacchanalia. Chaos ensues, infused with enough humor black to make Bill Burroughs choke on his apple.

A post-punk crack at Hollywood’s legacy that’s funnier than its predecessor, and just as cringe-inducing.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-178974-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

BAREFOOT

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more