A book that toys with brilliance but falters in the bog of its own telling.

THE LONGCUT

A young artist seeks the subject of her work within the teeming ontology of the city.

The unnamed narrator of this debut novel is an artist. This facet of her identity, the fact that she is an artist, is indisputable to her in spite of the fact that her art—its subject, its premise, and its form—is, as of yet, inscrutable both to others and to herself. The question of what exactly is her work is one that consumes her, occupying her near total attention as she walks the streets of her city, slots answers into the “completed” column at her absurdist job, eats unsatisfying, overpriced sandwiches, or moves items from place to place inside her tiny studio, aka apartment. It seems possible that the permutations of the question “what is my work?” could occupy the narrator’s thoughts more or less endlessly, especially in a time when, in the narrator’s words, it is acceptable “to make art from anything, with anything, about anything, the world constituting the art world in my time being undelimited in a liberating or terrifying manner”; however, a deadline of sorts has been superimposed on this question because the artist has a meeting. This meeting, set up by a well-known artist friend of the narrator’s whose artistic endeavor consists of “setting up situations,” is with a gallerist whose attention may just help the narrator place her work in the public eye, if only she knew what that work was. In recursive prose—mirroring the art-world use of deliberately abstracted language with an expert’s ear—the narrator circles the question of her identity, her interiority, her agency, and her originality, even as she circles the location of her long-anticipated meeting through familiar streets that have become defamiliarized by the intensity of her observation. Surreal, heady, and elliptical, this book reads like a Seinfeld episode if it were co-written by Beckett and Derrida. Unfortunately, much of the wit, trenchant observation, and insight are occluded by the density of the language. This clearly intentional, even integral, stylistic choice is at the heart of the novel’s attempt to elevate even the most utterly banal elements of modern life to the level of “the work,” and yet it will prove a barrier to all but the most dedicated of readers.

A book that toys with brilliance but falters in the bog of its own telling.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-628-97397-6

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Dalkey Archive

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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