This comic fable about making an Exorcist-like horror movie has its moments—and, heaven knows, may not overestimate the gross appetites of a portion of the American reading public. Each Blatty (Legion, 1983, etc.) paragraph drools with faux- movie dialogue and highbrow asides (to The Magic Mountain, Shakespeare, Emily Brontâ, Dickens, Prince Miskin, etc). The most memorable figure in the book is reminiscent of the Nazi playwright from the Mel Brooks film The Producers, rendered here as a demented film projectionist in a Prussian army helmet, Jesus Machtmeintag (Makemyday). His scenes are particularly droll. `` `Go avay!' shrieked the deep German voice hysterically. `You haff zer wrong man, I tell you! I am innocent!' There followed adamant denials that he'd ever gone bowling with Joseph Goebbels, weekend flying with Rudolph Hess, knew anything whatever of letters of transit, or had ever defaced Casablanca posters to suggest the film's hero was Conrad Veidt. `All lies!' bellowed Machtmeintag in a fury.'' The scenario: Celebrated director Jason Hazard has been in the dumps for three years when archfiend/studio head Arthur Zelig hires him to direct the film version of Jonathan Drood's bestseller, The Satanists. Hazard has run off with Zelig's ex-wife, leading actress Spritely God, and Zelig schemes to make sure that The Satanist will be a colossal bomb, blowing Hazard completely out of the water and driving Spritely back into his bed. She, however, is so aghast at Drood's script that she demands the studio be exorcised. Various exorcists show up throughout, including Don Rickles, who fails to exorcise Spritely's cat, Barbra, which sings like Streisand and turns into a gigantic rat on a levitating bed. Perhaps Mel Brooks will direct the movie? Echoes of musty old Max Schulman novels, with some laugh-out- loud lines about Hollywood lost in extra-luxuriant false classicism and excess.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 1996

ISBN: 1-55611-501-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Donald Fine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

Did you like this book?