A WORLD LOST

By the prolific poet, novelist, and social critic (Watch With Me, 1994; Fidelity, 1992, etc.), an elegiac celebration of the end of innocence. Berry's fifth novel and ninth work of fiction is set, like most of his spare, exact work, in the fictional town of Port William, Kentucky. Andy Catlett, the narrator, looks back from the present at the moment when his idyllic childhood came to an end, in the summer of 1944, when he was nine years old. His beloved Uncle Andrew, a man who savored ``company, talk, some kind of to-do, something to laugh at'' above everything, is shot down, for unclear reasons, by the surly Carp Harmon. It is the first time that death has touched someone Andy knows, and despite the gentle support of his extended family (few contemporary writers dwell as much, or as movingly, on the complex nature of familial love), life suddenly seems less certain and right. Years later, a still troubled Andy attempts to discover why Carp Harmon (who served only two years in a state prison for the crime) killed his uncle. He seeks out his uncle's old friends in Port William, and out of their vigorous talk a portrait of a close-knit, resourceful, modest community emerges, but no easy answers. Memories are hazy, the possibilities raised disturbing but unprovable. What does emerge, though, is a portrait of Uncle Andrew as a robust but troubled man, trapped in a suffocating marriage, uneasy in his responsibilities. Berry deftly balances Andy's investigation into the town's past with an equally moving portrait of his growing realization not only of the sustaining value of memory but of the manner in which people are shaped in enduring ways by what they love. This is a modest, resonant work, both a sharp portrait of a small farming town nursing its secrets over several decades, and a penetrating celebration of the hold of family on the imagination.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1996

ISBN: 1-887178-22-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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