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PIPER ROBBIN AND THE AMERICAN OZ MAKER

A bold sci-fi tale that delivers an absurdist paradise.

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This debut novel sees Earth’s best wielders of magic defending humanity against a space-born evil.

In the year 2038, Piper Robbin seems like your average mango-haired barista. The Brooklyn native loves Cambodian khor stew takeout and the idea of singing on Broadway. But she is in fact Bianca Elise Cappello, a centuries-old Grand Sorceress of the Holy Roman Empire. Her father is an immortal World Maker named Edison Godfellow, aka Leonardo da Vinci and Hercules. He’s come back from a future in which the War for Utopia has been won but at the cost of the human race. Phase 1 of the Grand Human Transfiguration has already begun, killing off the world’s population of sociopaths and narcissists. In two days, a kinder humanity will merge into a “million ton mass of flesh composed...of super brutes and...beautiful divas.” But that mass organism must not fall victim to a cosmic predator that waits in the Orion Nebula. When Piper’s apartment explodes with Tao energy (on which magic runs), she knows that World Maker Catherine Romanova, her father’s nemesis, is responsible. Piper must defeat Catherine so that Edison can create his protective Oz-scapes—or place major cities like New York and Berlin inside magical domes and atop vast towers. Once Gleeson cracks open his frothy imagination, all manner of conceptual madness rushes forth. If Thomas Pynchon wrote an episode of Doctor Who, there might be a scene where “the hyper-velocity shells” of Catherine’s Glock generated “a blinding burst and a noise loud as July 4th in Disneyland compressed to one second.” Jaded sci-fi and fantasy readers should flock to this fearlessly inventive narrative that sprinkles pop-culture references (like the David Bowie line “We could be heroes, just for one day”) on unflagging optimism about humanity’s potential. The author’s daring plot devices include moving Earth to safety and changing his protagonist’s gender. The downside to this kind of full-throttle wackiness is the difficulty in creating believable danger when seemingly anything can happen.

A bold sci-fi tale that delivers an absurdist paradise.

Pub Date: April 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9998425-4-6

Page Count: 316

Publisher: Del Sol Press

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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