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LIFE FOR SALE

An eccentric satire that stands in contrast to Mishima’s more formal works and that makes for quick and entertaining reading.

Offbeat, sardonic yarn about self-commodification and its discontents.

Mishima is best known for brooding, elegant novels such as The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea (1963) and the stories collected in books like Death in Midsummer (1953) as well as his spectacular suicide by seppuku after leading a failed coup attempt in 1970. This slender novel, published two years before his death, sounds his disdain for the capitalism that had replaced traditional Japanese values. Hanio, a young man, awakens in a white room where a nurse and paramedic await him. “It dawned on Hanio that his attempt at suicide had failed,” writes Mishima, matter-of-factly. Since clearly Hanio can’t pull it off by himself, he takes out an ad reading, “Life for Sale. Use me as you wish.” The first response is from an old man who tells him his young wife is sleeping with a gangster, and Hanio dutifully marches off to seduce her with an eye to getting himself and the young woman gunned down by her affronted lover. It doesn’t quite work out. Nor does Hanio succumb to the ministrations of a comely young widow whose son hires him to be her boyfriend. There’s just one hitch: She’s a “very unusual sort of person,” as the kid says, in fact a vampire. And so on. Things are never as simple as they seem, and all of his contacts are connected in a strange conspiracy that hinges on the Asia Confidential Service, a spy network that may or may not exist. The one person who seems to get it is a disaffected young woman who’s fond of LSD and literature and who tells him, “I know what your problem is. You’re tired of trying to die.” She’s right, but now that others are out to do him in, Hanio no longer has to go to the trouble of finding a way to do it—a nice if bleak twist.

An eccentric satire that stands in contrast to Mishima’s more formal works and that makes for quick and entertaining reading.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-56514-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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