A scattershot story, but one that manages to deliver a historically edifying depiction of the 1960s.

Rude Boy USA

A debut tale of organized crime, political unrest, and love in New York City during the 1960s.

A sophisticated, four-man criminal fraternity, the Chimera Group, also known as “the Rude Boys,” has risen to prominence in Manhattan. One night, a man brutally assaults one of group’s members, John, and Celia Jones, who works at a local nightclub, saves his life. John soon falls in love with her, and she initially responds to his romantic overtures. However, their prospects seem doomed by the fact that he’s already in a loveless marriage. Celia eventually comes to work for the Rude Boys as their bookkeeper and begins a relationship with Ben, the group’s “number three man,” further complicating her relationship with John. She soon learns that the Chimera Group is hemorrhaging cash, due to another partner’s ungovernable drug habit. Meanwhile, the group contends with the unwanted attention of the Italian mob, which views the diverse group with racist disdain. Bolton aptly captures the tempestuous spirit of the time—a volatile brew of political radicalism, crime, racial tension, and sexual libertinism—and her painstaking historical research is evident on virtually every page. However, the prose is consistently plodding and the dialogue leaden, as when Celia aggressively flirts with John: “ ‘If you do dream of me, remember, I like it rough,’ she said as she sashayed to the door….John stood there and stared at her, feeling an intoxicating tactile euphoria in his whole body.” Other than the atmosphere of the decade, there’s little that binds together the meandering plot, which reads more like a successive series of random happenings than a coherent whole. One can’t help but wonder whether Bolton’s formidable command of the setting would have been better employed in a nonfiction work.

A scattershot story, but one that manages to deliver a historically edifying depiction of the 1960s.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5187-5433-3

Page Count: 282

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2016

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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