THE GREEN

A laugh-out-loud take on big-time golfing, as a small-time hustler more than holds his own against the egos, bank balances, blood feuds, and beer guts of international pros. After seedy southern Florida golf hustler Eddie Caminetti uses his con-man skills, as well as his superbly controlled golfing technique, to pick the pocket of seasoned pro Al Bellamy, Bellamy invites him—begs him—and then bribes him (with $100,000) to join the 12-man all-star team representing the US against an elite troupe of Europeans for the Ryder Cup. Bellamy hopes that Caminetti’s uncanny ability to read a player’s weakness and play against it will give the Americans an edge in this biennial contest—which, unlike traditional competitions, in which players score against the course, forces some of the world’s most fiercely independent, conceited, and downright crazy athletes to score as a team. Though narrator Bellamy is supposed to be in control, Caminetti, a street-smart Joe Pesci type, quickly takes over, besting whiz kid Derek Anouilh (a stand-in for Tiger Woods) in a qualifying match by flattering the boy. He also saves the team from the embarrassing entreaties of a drunken pro, plots group strategy, takes on an overweight L.A. ghetto kid as a caddy, and delivers numerous golf-is-life wisdom speeches when antagonisms between players bubble to a boil. Newcomer McAllister makes the intricacies of the game exciting, even thrilling, as he contrasts Caminetti’s hardened pragmatism with the ridiculous behavior of the pros, asking whether, in this most tedious of sports, it’s skill or personality that ultimately wins the game. When Caminetti apparently makes a lucrative side-bet with the Europeans that might compel him to betray his team, Bellamy has to question the point of winning in pro sports: Is it about the money, the fame, or the quiet satisfaction of hoodwinking your opponent? A breezy clubhouse yarn that works as a meditation on competition and intense insiderdom: rollicking fun.

Pub Date: April 20, 1999

ISBN: 0-385-49459-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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