- June 1, 2012
Today, a serving of fiction for every taste and mood. Enjoy!
Today, a serving of fiction for every taste and mood. “If you like dark, if you like reincarnation, if you like grittiness and violence in your philosophy,” Until the Next Time is for you. If you prefer a “novel based on a Bernie Madoff-like investment scheme and the personal and financial toll it takes on the upper crust New York family at the heart of the scandal,” read Cristina Alger’s fast-paced and entertaining debut, The Darlings. Hungry for a coming-of-age tale? In The Starboard Sea, you will spend some time with “the scions of wealthy families who’ve been expelled from every other school they’ve attended.” Our reviewer writes that Amber Dermont’s first novel is “written with verve.” Enjoy!
Until the Next Time
by Kevin Fox
If you like dark, if you like reincarnation, if you like grittiness and violence in your philosophy, you might want to read Until the Next Time. It displays somewhat less of the sunniness the Irish are supposed to emit than Ireland herself displays during the winter. It’s about an Irish-American who goes back to investigate the 1970s murder of an uncle, an American police officer who has shot dead a black American who turned out to be unarmed, then fled to his family’s home somewhere in Westmeath in the Irish Republic, which is not far south of Belfast in Northern Ireland. Both Michael Corrigan and his nephew, Sean Corrigan, find themselves actively involved in the “Troubles” for which Northern Ireland is best known. A breeze to read it isn’t. Nor do I think it was intended to be. A professional screenwriter, author Kevin Fox does know how to set up scene after scene after scene, but the reader gets confused with the back-and-forth of the writing of Sean and Michael. Both write in the same style — turns out there’s a reason for that — and, no surprise here, as Fox himself writes. The Ulster-Irish-accented dialogue is charming during the first few pages and then it begins to grate. If you can get past the feeling that Fox could have summarized much of that dialogue, then you are rewarded with some decent thought provocation. He writes frequent quotes in Irish Gaelic, which is fine, except that the Irish alphabet is about as accessible to the average American as the Cherokee alphabet is to the average Irishman. All that said I can see how this novel can be captivating to the right reader. I, for one, was happy to get to the end.
~Robert M. Knight
by Cristina Alger
Pamela Dorman Books
It takes all of about 20 pages to get hooked on The Darlings, Cristina Algers fast-paced and entertaining debut novel based on a Bernie Madoff-like investment scheme and the personal and financial toll it takes on the upper crust New York family at the heart of the scandal. The story unfolds at a record clip over Thanksgiving week 2008. Early Tuesday morning, the brilliant and wildly successful fund manager, Morty Reis, drives his perfectly restored and refinished classic silver Aston Martin north out of Manhattan and parks at the base of the Tappan Zee Bridge. By Wednesday, Morty is reported dead and the news comes as a tragic blow for the billionaire financier Carter Darling and his family. Morty was Carter’s close friend and “Uncle Morty” to his daughters. They were also connected by business — the Darling’s Delphic investment firm had stashed a third of its assets in Morty’s RCM fund. By Thursday, as the Darlings gather for Thanksgiving dinner at “Beech House,” their Hampton home with its manicured lawns, porticos and putting greens, an SEC investigation is cooking into questionable dealings between Delphic and RCM. It’s not long before Carter, his son-in-law Paul, his daughters Merrill and Lily, his wife Ines, and his mistress are pulled into a ruinous drama that remarkably wraps up by Monday morning. The Darlings is a fast and fun read, a definite must for anyone who enjoys pulling back the curtain on the overly rich and morally bankrupt. It also helps that Ms. Alger worked as a Goldman Sachs analyst and employs a deft hand describing the complex web of interactions that enabled Bernie Madoff and others to play fast and loose with investor money. Somewhat sadly, the book leaves you wanting for more, especially a longer, more fully developed story and more carefully drawn characters that you not only gaze upon but also care about. The Darlings is a delightful diversion — which is not a bad thing — but not a book that lingers.
~Mary C. Davis
The Starboard Sea
by Amber Dermont
St. Martin’s Press
Somewhere along the Massachusetts coast there is a prep school, Bellingham Academy, offering one last chance of a private education for the scions of wealthy families who’ve been expelled from every other school they’ve attended. Jason Kilian Prosper will spend his senior year at Bellingham nursing his broken heart while securing his place as a legacy student at Princeton. The Starboard Sea is a coming-of-age story about Jason and his cohorts, all distressed and disobedient despite having every advantage of family, money and social standing. Jason’s tragedy is the suicide of his best friend since childhood, Cal: neighbor from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, sailing partner, nearly his mirror image and later sexual partner. Indeed Cal’s suicide followed an episode of Jason’s rough sex despite Cal’s assurances that it is okay to be gay. Jason’s quests are to forgive himself and to find pleasure in sailing again. Jason befriends Aidan, an odd-bird California girl who dresses in dark shawls, eats only citrus fruit and likes to risk her safety at the seaside. He hopes Aidan will dispel his sexual confusion, but she drowns at a hurricane party. They call Aidan’s death a suicide, supported by gloomy ruminations lifted from her journals by the headmaster, but Jason and Chester (the middle-class black tennis star) discover otherwise, that her death was the result of a revenge prank aimed at Jason. And so it goes. The school will cover up so long as the families can pay. Amber Dermont’s first novel, written with verve, moves along at a good pace recounting the escapades of privileged teens who have very little adult supervision. Jason is a sympathetic character, alert to winds and tides as well as to the feelings of others. If Jason follows the right (starboard) side he has a chance to become a decent adult.