Alexander, having been celebrated in the tabloids as the college instructor who danced topless to get material for this debut novel, shows more cheek than talent in a tale of a New York hostess who yearns both for the sea and her long-vanished husband but who finds a bad end in Tokyo instead. When her brutish Gottlieb decamped, Charlie Dean, a.k.a. Angel, fell into a funk, then resolved to become the ultimate desirable woman through implants, rib-removal, and every other cosmetic twist known. The result: a jaw-dropping eyeful, every man's most libidinous dream strutting her stuff on the streets of New York. But Charlie has a brain, too, which is what really makes the Japanese businessmen at Club Kiki, where she is a hostess, take notice. One of them, Hiro, wants to deepen his relationship with Angel, and with sizeable financial incentives and her lukewarm acquiescence, he succeeds. She leaves her East Village loft for his swank East Side pied-Ö-terre but quickly tires of the set-up and fakes an abduction in order to move out and disappear. Hiro tries in vain to see her, then returns to his neglected wife only to find that she has committed suicide. Charlie, meanwhile, boards a former coastal lightship, purchased by another of her Japanese admirers, to realize her ambition of sailing away from her troubles—although the ship is headed for Tokyo to become a floating casino, managed by, of all people, her ex. The titillations of travel give way to despair when the trip is over, and a botched suicide attempt prefigures Charlie's worse end, as she recovers only to be abused and poisoned by an avenging Hiro. No lack of come-on details here but also little narrative consistency as competing voices and plot twists make for an erratic multicultural mess.

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-877946-69-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


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.


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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