A poignant and often riveting collection of small-town tales.

LOUSE POINT

STORIES FROM THE EAST END: 2ND EDITION

A short story collection that delves into the intricacies of love, family, marriage, and community in the East End of Long Island, New York.

Raebeck begins with “Dream Girls,” about a family coping with grief. Fourteen-year-old Ricky’s mother has died, but he still sees her as an apparition in the bathroom; he talks to her about his life and how he and the family are getting on in the aftermath of her death. In “Walking Dunes,” Darlene’s husband leaves her, and she chases after him, dragging her daughter and son along with her. Later in the collection, “Wiborg” shows how a woman’s close relationship to the land has caused a rift in her family. There’s an ongoing theme of loss and division in these tales—of people yearning for each other but unable to bridge the gap caused by their circumstances. This is especially apparent in the titular story, in which an adult Ricky describes how his sister, a single mother who just left a terrible relationship, begins to follow a similar pattern with Ricky’s 29-year-old stockbroker friend Babiak. In another story involving a troubled marriage, “Fremont’s Farewell” tells the tale of a teacher who tries to teach his students about what he feels are life’s most important lessons but instead reveals his own personal history. He describes spending the day with his son in a touching scene that’s effectively juxtaposed with his generally cynical point of view. Raebeck also has a talent for showing how characters play different roles in others’ lives, such as parents, siblings, and childhood friends. “Camp Hero” is about a teen named Lance who tries to push Ricky onto his family to fill the void he’s about to leave in their lives as he heads off to college. The story generates heartfelt sympathy for Lance, who wants to protect and provide for his loved ones but needs to go his own way, and Ricky, who’s kind but has his own problems.

A poignant and often riveting collection of small-town tales.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66291-782-0

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

THE SUMMER PLACE

When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A curious fetishization of outsiders, outlaws, and the down-and-out.

THE RAVAGED

This debut novel from Walking Dead actor Reedus follows three thematically connected yet narratively unrelated people as they journey to find themselves.

Hunter, a heavily tatted Iraq War vet and self-proclaimed gearhead, attacks his boss at the bike shop after catching him kicking a dog. “Hunter was old school,” the narrator says, rough-hewn but with strong moral fiber and a heart of gold. After learning his father died in a “mysterious house fire” in California, Hunter hops on his Buell S1 motorcycle alongside his buddies Nugget and Itch for a cross-country haul to execute the will. Meanwhile, a wealthy 65-year-old executive named Jack is mugged while traveling aimlessly through South America, neither the first nor the last of his hardships. Jack abandoned his cushy, bloodless office lifestyle after his dying mother told him to “run and never look back,” words he continuously labors to unpack. Finally, Anne, an abused teenage girl in Tennessee, steals her father’s savings and .38 revolver and runs away from home, clobbering her brother upside the head with a cast-iron skillet when he tries to stop her. She connects with her friend Trot, and they join a community of train-hoppers. Co-written by Bill, the story reads like a pastiche of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, the latter of which is name-dropped as “great” by multiple characters. Though occasionally hitting some beautiful imagery of the American heartland, Reedus falls victim to implausible dialogue—“Fabiola, you are reading me like a stock report,” Jack says—and overcooked language: “flesh the color of a high-dollar medium-roast coffee bean.” Frequently wordy summaries do little to develop the thinly sketched characters; we know nearly as much about them on Page 25 as on Page 250.

A curious fetishization of outsiders, outlaws, and the down-and-out.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-09-416680-3

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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