From the strange and venerable Burroughs, a tiny slip of a book (to include 17 illustrations by the author) that becomes a cri de coeur for ecological sanity. In his spare, comic-hook style, Burroughs opens by telling—or telegraphing—the story of one Captain Mission who, in the 18th century, founded a "free pirate settlement, Libertatia, on the west coast of Madagascar." The settlement's self-imposed laws forbade harming the lemurs that dwelled on the island—although these kind and sensitive creatures ("lemur" meant "ghost" in the native tongue), needless to say, were to face calamitous treatment anyhow, by marauders from within and without—as was the mysterious stone temple that Captain Mission had discovered, known by him to be "the entrance to the biological Garden of lost Chances." When the temple is destroyed, and with it the lemurs' opportunity of developing into a yet more sensitive and wondrous species, "Mission knows that a chance that occurs only once in a hundred sixty million years has been lost forever." "Beauty is always doomed," writes Burroughs, placing the blame flatly on "Homo Sap with his weapons,...his insatiable greed, and ignorance so hideous it can never see its own face." And thus—for the balance of the book—is unleashed the formidable power of Burroughs the essayist of conscience, agony, and vitriol: chronicling Homo Sap's ravaging of other species ("The humans belch out the last passenger pigeon"), self-deluding opportunism and greed (including "the Christ Sickness" and the "war against drugs"), and the species' folly-laden susceptibility to certain revenge through increasingly vile, unimaginable new diseases and viruses, their effects described in ways calculated to chill the very blood of "Homo Sap, the Ugly Animal." Burroughs, in all, as the high lyric poet of wretched lost hopes. Or maybe not wholly lost: At book's end is an address, with an appeal for funds to help save the lemurs.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 1-85242-406-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1995

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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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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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