The Resource Calf : a novel, Andrea Kleine

Calf : a novel, Andrea Kleine

Calf : a novel
Title remainder
a novel
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Andrea Kleine
"The year was 1981. The US was entering a deep recession, Russia was our enemy, and John Hinckley, Jr.'s assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan shocked the nation. It was also the year author Andrea Kleine learned her close childhood friend hadbeen violently murdered by her socialite mother, Leslie DeVeau. Both events took place in Washington, DC. Hinckley and Deveau were both sent to St. Elizabeth's hospital, guilty by reason of insanity. It was there that they met, and later became lovers. These two real-life, and ultimately converging events inspired Klein's jaw-dropping, spine-tingling novel, CALF. Made up of dual narratives and told over the course of one year, Kleine's account follows a fictionalized John Hinkley in the lead-up to the assassination attempt, and Tammy, older sister to Steffi, the best friend of DeVeau's daughter, Kirin. Part Are You There God, It's Me Margaret and part Taxi Driver, this creepy, unsettling, and absolutely addictive novel shines a light on two terrible events, providing an unflinching depiction of violence, both intimate and sensational. "--
This creepy, unsettling, and absolutely addictive novel shines a light on two terrible events, providing an unflinching depiction of violence, both intimate and sensational
Story line
  • /* Starred Review */ At the start of this debut novel, Kleine explains that the story was influenced by two acts of violence in Washington, D.C., in the early 1980s: John Hinckley Jr.'s attempt to assassinate Ronald Reagan, and the murder of a young girl by her socialite mother, Leslie deVeau (Hinckley and deVeau became lovers after both were found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to the same mental institution). Kleine uses these incidents as springboards for her story, but she smartly deviates from the facts to maximize suspense. Hinckley's stand-in here is Jeffrey Hackney, a college dropout from Texas with dreams of fame. He moves to Los Angeles before heading to D.C. in hopes of attracting the attention of a young starlet. Like his real-life counterpart, Hackney suffers from delusions, manipulates his family, and becomes more and more mentally unstable. Meanwhile, 10-year-old Tammy moves from Virginia to the nation's capital with her mother, sister, stepbrother, and stepfather after her parents divorce. Though Tammy makes friends at her new school, she feels isolated, and when her friend Kirin is murdered in her sleep by her own mother, Tammy too becomes unstable and starts down a dark, dangerous path. Dread stalks every page, and the result is unsettling, scary, and often brilliant. For readers looking for a sharp, twisted narrative, this is a keeper. (Oct.) --Staff (Reviewed May 18, 2015) (Publishers Weekly, vol 262, issue 20, p)
  • The attempted assassination of President Reagan by John Hinckley Jr. and the 1982 murder of a ten-year-old girl by her mother in Washington, DC, are the inspiration for this debut. Kleine's stand-in for Hinckley is Jeff Hackney, a troubled loner pressured by his family to make something of himself. His delusions of a music career and obsession with a starlet bring him first to California and then, fatefully, to the nation's capital. Meanwhile, preteen Tammy is having family troubles and struggles to fit in at her new school. When her younger sister's best friend is murdered, Tammy and her peers try to make sense of the tragedy. VERDICT Kleine gets the details of growing up in the early 1980s exactly right; in fact, the Tammy sections of the book read very much like the Judy Blume books that are often referenced. Kleine fictionalizes just enough of Jeff's story to add suspense and presents a plausible psychological portrait of a killer. The author's personal connection to the second case (the murdered girl was a childhood friend) perhaps led to a bit of overreach, as her attempts to get inside the mother's head and connect the two stories feel somewhat forced. Nevertheless, this is a tense page-turner.— Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis --Christine DeZelar-Tiedman (Reviewed October 15, 2015) (Library Journal, vol 140, issue 17, p73)
  • Performance artist Kleine debuts with the bleak intertwined tales of a fourth-grader murdered by her mother and a narcissistic loser who shoots the movie star he's been stalking.The novel was "inspired," the author tells us, by the creepy real-life love affair of would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley and Leslie DeVeau, who killed her daughter (a childhood friend of Kleine's) and met Hinckley while both were patients in a psychiatric hospital. Unfortunately, the only character who comes to fictional life here is Tammy, an anxious 10-year-old at the end of 1980, when she relocates to Washington, D.C., and finds herself on the fringes of her new school's social scene while younger sister Steffi fits right in and swiftly acquires a best friend, Kirin. Tammy's mother and stepfather are stick figures of selfishness, leaving the girls to pick up and supervise their 4-year-old half brother after school, while Kirin's mother, Valerie, is such a twitching mass of symptoms that it's all too clear which mom will be shotgunning her daughter halfway through the novel. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Hackney (the Hinckley stand-in) grieves over John Lennon's death and can't understand why neither his parents nor anyone at the college where he's stopped attending classes can see how special he is—never mind that he makes few efforts to demonstrate his specialness other than some creative bouts of lying to cover up his failures. The flat-affect prose doesn't encourage us to feel any empathy for—let alone interest in—Jeffrey or anyone else except pathetic Tammy in this dour saga of alienation and unhappiness. It doesn't help that the narrative whipsaws between Jeff's growing fixation on starlet Amber Carrol and the interactions of the kids and parents in Tammy's neighborhood, chronicled in chapters confusingly split among multiple points of view. After the two murderous denouements, the novel dwindles into a depressive anticlimax for Tammy and more delusions for Jeff and Valerie. Fact-based fiction needs more imaginative transformation than it gets here.(Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2015)
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Andrea Kleine
Calf : a novel, Andrea Kleine
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24 cm.
293 p.
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  • Delaware Main LibraryBorrow it
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  • Powell BranchBorrow it
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