A well-told redemption song about the most unlikely of heroines.

DEBBIE DOESN'T DO IT ANYMORE

A porn star experiences an epiphany of sorts in the wake of her husband’s death.

Prolific novelist Mosley (Little Green, 2013, etc.) fielded his fair share of criticism for his X-rated one-two punch of Killing Johnny Fry (2006) and Diablerie (2007), and readers attracted to the equally explicit nature of this novel might be expecting more of the same. In truth, readers are likely to be more surprised by the depth of protagonist Sandra Peel, whom the author treats with tremendous compassion. Of course, when we first meet Sandra, she’s in the guise of Debbie Dare, an ivory-haired, black pornographic film star who, in the midst of a typical scene, experiences a rare and revelatory orgasm, causing her to pass out. She returns home to find that her husband, fellow porn-film actor and part-time pimp Theon Pinkney, has accidentally electrocuted himself and a 16-year-old runaway in a hot tub during a sex act. The book then follows the well-read and resolute woman through the next week or so as she tries to sort out her husband’s funeral, avoid the mobsters who want her to pay her dead husband’s debts, figure out a way to quit the business, reconnect with friends and family, and listen to the whisper of suicide sailing behind her cold eyes. Except for flashbacks and the novel’s opening scene, there’s not even any sex for the determined exile-to-be. “Thousands of us boys and girls had run screaming from the same filth and stink of poverty,” she says. “Black and white and brown and yellow and red had put out their thumbs and pulled down their pants, used lubricants and drugs and alcohol to escape these decaying ancestors and others just like them.” Mosley’s characteristically well-crafted cast also includes a kind police detective, a nonjudgmental shrink and a shy young architect with a crush on the non-glammed-out Sandra.

A well-told redemption song about the most unlikely of heroines.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-52618-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

This is good Hemingway. It has some of the tenderness of A Farewell to Arms and some of its amazing power to make one feel inside the picture of a nation at war, of the people experiencing war shorn of its glamor, of the emotions that the effects of war — rather than war itself — arouse. But in style and tempo and impact, there is greater resemblance to The Sun Also Rises. Implicit in the characters and the story is the whole tragic lesson of Spain's Civil War, proving ground for today's holocaust, and carrying in its small compass, the contradictions, the human frailties, the heroism and idealism and shortcomings. In retrospect the thread of the story itself is slight. Three days, during which time a young American, a professor who has taken his Sabbatical year from the University of Montana to play his part in the struggle for Loyalist Spain and democracy. He is sent to a guerilla camp of partisans within the Fascist lines to blow up a strategic bridge. His is a complex problem in humanity, a group of undisciplined, unorganized natives, emotionally geared to go their own way, while he has a job that demands unreasoning, unwavering obedience. He falls in love with a lovely refugee girl, escaping the terrors of a fascist imprisonment, and their romance is sharply etched against a gruesome background. It is a searing book; Hemingway has done more to dramatize the Spanish War than any amount of abstract declamation. Yet he has done it through revealing the pettinesses, the indignities, the jealousies, the cruelties on both sides, never glorifying simply presenting starkly the belief in the principles for which these people fought a hopeless war, to give the rest of the world an interval to prepare. There is something of the implacable logic of Verdun in the telling. It's not a book for the thin-skinned; it has more than its fill of obscenities and the style is clipped and almost too elliptical for clarity at times. But it is a book that repays one for bleak moments of unpleasantness.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0684803356

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1940

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