A boozy, grungy, alt-rock fable that might as well have a soundtrack by The Replacements.

131 DIFFERENT THINGS

A dejected bartender pursues his recently returned ex through the dive bars of New York City.

This messy little novella is the latest creative collaboration between writer Lipez, designer Wakefield, and photographer and Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Zinner (Please Take Me off the Guest List, 2010). The story itself is little more than a nihilistic chronicle of confused young love in the subterranean lairs of New York City. That said, the narrator’s painfully honest voice, Zinner’s evocative photographs, and the rich graphic design lend the package a funky mood that recalls Douglas Coupland’s early works. Lipez’s ongoing day job as a bartender also helps relay a stylish authenticity to what is essentially one long bar crawl. Our narrator is Sam, aforementioned bartender, who’s in a bit of a rut after having been dumped by Vicki, “my one true love, ender of marriages and my heart.” After leaving Sam, Vicki has been going to AA meetings to get her life together. But when Sam gets wind that she’s drinking again, he recruits his horndog best friend, Francis, for a careening drug- and alcohol-fueled quest to win back her heart. Along with occasional cameos from Sam’s acerbic ex-wife, Aviva, the duo encounters all manner of miscreants, iconoclasts, and other aberrations, all punctuated by miniexhibits by Zinner with titles like “Eleven Moments on the Way to Somewhere Else” and “Seven Moments of Clarity.” Don’t bother looking for the absent moral of the story; just enjoy Lipez’s spare prose and dry wit, framed by Zinner’s sly photography. “Everybody I’d ever cared for was truly taking it to the hoop tonight,” Sam says near the end. “Was it a full moon? I ran my hand through my hair and it came back wet. Beer and vodka and snow.”

A boozy, grungy, alt-rock fable that might as well have a soundtrack by The Replacements.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61775-667-2

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Akashic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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