EAT MY HEART OUT

A darkly funny, outrageous, and unromantic novel about a young woman obsessed with love.

Gleeful weirdness and vicious satire come together in a debut novel that follows an awful yet surprisingly likable young woman as she attempts to navigate the painful confusions of love, herself, and other people.

Ann-Marie is 23 and discontent with everything. Tormented by the end of a long-term relationship and at loose ends after leaving the rarefied world of Cambridge, she lives in London, working haphazardly at a fancy restaurant and staying with her friend Freddie in a lavish apartment that belongs to his uncle. She's frequently ridiculous, to the point of seeming both unhinged and unbelievable—she pounces on strange men, acting seductive and then killing the mood with mad gestures like extinguishing a cigarette on his chest—but her desperate search for substance and creeping terror that she won't find it, or will fail to recognize it if she does, give the novel an attractive feeling of dark reality. Pilger’s vivid depiction of Anne-Marie's self-conscious dissatisfaction pulls the reader along as the character is plunged into ever more absurd situations. She meets a celebrated feminist author, Stephanie Haight, and falls into the role of ill-behaved disciple to her provocative and abusive teachings. She runs to and from a social circle of spoiled, drug-addled, hipster youth, giving Pilger an opportunity for biting depictions of the silliest excesses of artistic and academic posturing. The novel bangs on the theme of the dangers of obsession with romantic love; the characters are aware of this obsession, dissect it, and fall prey to it. Pilger’s efforts to skewer that obsession are funny but bleak, offering little to alleviate the nastiness and discomfort except for breezily conversational writing occasionally interrupted by strikingly grotesque imagery.

A darkly funny, outrageous, and unromantic novel about a young woman obsessed with love.

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-55861-885-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Feminist Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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