A collection of diverse literary offerings that lacks a coherent structure.

THE END OF WAR

This debut philosophical miscellany includes story fragments, a film treatment, poems, a two-act play, and letters to the editor.

Presented without any framing material, this hodgepodge becomes tough to decipher. Several themes do become apparent: fulmination against society’s restrictions; a writer called Terrence F. Hill; a mysterious figure, Godot-like, called Marcel; the nature of art, spirituality, and sanity. The book begins with a one-page episode centered on an unnamed man, head of the Rangoon police force and winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, who uses his acceptance speech to say that he’s being called a great man only after he learned to hate. Next is an epistolary chapter in which Hill, author of novels including The Heart of a Poet, complains of being persecuted “in the thoughts of the devil, or evil, upon all God or nature would allow to receive the thoughts.” (This book exists, and Love’s work quotes from it, but the author never directly identifies himself with Hill.) Next is a film treatment in which a priest blames himself for not rebelling as a boy and bemoans his “tired heart”: “I feel like I’ve been dragging a wounded soldier along with me most of my life. He begged me to leave him behind—but I wouldn’t.” This image does have power, but Love weakens it through explanation: “The wounded soldier stands for the values of the family—and the laws and values that are the foundation of civilization.” A play follows, much in the vein of French absurdists (the author insists otherwise), with some effective dialogue among the confusion: “He lived in a - 30 - Cent - Bus - Ticket—Reality (Pauses) A rider in life, who stayed on the same vehicle and never had to upgrade his fare; he thought he stood on the stilting songs of life.” The film treatment starring the conflicted priest is repeated verbatim; other pieces follow, some looping back to earlier concerns, others seeming quite random, like a medical report in French. The book needs a strong editor to fix distracting errors of spelling, capitalization, and punctuation (for example, “André Sakorov the soviet dissedent wrote at essay in 1958, that was published around the world and was a sensation”).

A collection of diverse literary offerings that lacks a coherent structure.

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5462-8164-1

Page Count: 108

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2017

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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