Not one of Moriarty's best outings.

TRULY MADLY GUILTY

Relying less on comedy or edginess than in previous novels (Big Little Lies, 2014, etc.), Moriarty explores the social and psychological repercussions of a barbecue in Sydney gone terribly awry.

What happened emerges slowly through glimpses of characters coping—or not coping—weeks after the event intercut with an unfolding chronicle of the actual barbecue day. Both past and present are seen through the eyes of those remembering, who have been affected very differently by the events. Leading up to the barbecue, Erika and her husband, Oliver, accountants whose buttoned-up personalities compensate for miserable upbringings (in Erika’s case by a hoarder and in Oliver’s by alcoholics), have invited Erika’s childhood friend Clementine, a cellist preparing for an important audition, her husband, Sam, and two small children, 2-year-old Ruby and 5-year-old Holly, for afternoon tea and are nervously planning to ask Clementine to donate eggs to help them have a baby. Oliver is understandably upset when Erika accepts a spur-of-the-moment invitation from their wealthy, very sociable neighbor, Vid, to bring everyone over to his backyard for a barbecue. But Clementine, who was instinctively dreading Erika’s tea, jumps at the chance for a lively afternoon with Vid, his sexy wife, Tiffany, and their brainy 10-year-old daughter, Dakota. While Dakota watches the smaller girls, the adults proceed to get mildly sloshed. Then Erika, drunk for the first time in her life, screams, and a child ends up in a life-threatening situation. The suspicion and guilt the adults and even children secretly feel in the aftermath cause rifts and secrets to surface within the three marriages and within Erika and Clementine’s friendship. The setup here is reminiscent of fellow Australian novelist Christos Tsiokas’ The Slap (2008), but while Tsiokas uses a minor incident to propel his corrosive examination of middle-class lives, Moriarty’s characters resolve their issues too neatly and with too much comforting ease.

Not one of Moriarty's best outings.

Pub Date: July 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-06979-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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