A literate, ironic, strangely tasty treat for fans of 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, The Last Man on Earth and other...

WORLD WAR Z

AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE ZOMBIE WAR

An “oral history” of the global war the evil brain-chewers came within a hair of winning.

Zombies are among us—turn on your television if you don’t believe it. But, Brooks reassures us in this all-too-realistic novel, even today, human fighters are hunting down the leftovers, and we’re winning. Brooks (The Zombie Survival Guide, not reviewed) seeds his mockumentary with smart nods to the chains of cause and effect that spring from today’s headlines. Like the avian flu, one CIA agent tells the interviewer, the zombie plague began in China, whose government embarked on a campaign of “health and safety” sweeps (“Instead of lying about the sweeps themselves, they just lied about what they were sweeping for”) to contain the endless armies of the moaning, walking dead. It didn’t work. Ear to the ground, Israel quarantined itself—it helped that it had that tall new wall. Greece, Japan, England: Every center of world civilization was overrun, with notable pockets of resistance. In England, for example, the queen stayed in Windsor Castle, the most easily defended bastion in the realm, to steel the hearts of her subjects. Who says the royal family is a relic? Finally, the zombies come to North America, where, after the disastrous Battle of Yonkers, the humans regroup and take their pound of extremely icky flesh in vengeance; even Michael Stipe, the antiwar rock singer, signs up to kick zombie butt. Brooks’s iron-jaw narrative is studded with practical advice on what to do when the zombies come, as they surely will. For one thing, check to see who doesn’t blink (“Maybe because they don’t have as much bodily fluid they can’t keep using it to coat the eyes”), aim for the head and blast away.

A literate, ironic, strangely tasty treat for fans of 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, The Last Man on Earth and other treasures of the zombie/counterzombie genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-307-34660-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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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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