Archive for December, 2009

MENNONITE IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS by Rhoda Janzen

Janzen’s laugh-out-loud memoir gets its impetus from a botched major surgery, a debilitating car accident and a crushing divorce.

Incapacitation itself – never mind the catheter bag – was a shock to her self-image as the embodiment of robust Mennonite genes. But after a yearlong convalescence during which her handsome, brilliant, if not entirely reliable husband, Nick, was a peach, Janzen expects to be healthy for decades to come.

December 25, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: California, Family Matters, Humorous, Non-fiction, Reading Guide

WHILE I’M FALLING by Laura Moriarty

In Laura Moriarty’s WHILE I’M FALLING, after twenty-six years of marriage, Veronica Von Holten’s parents, Dan and Natalie, are getting a divorce. Although she is a twenty-year old pre-med student, when Veronica hears the news, she reverts to acting like the little girl she once was. She morosely observes: “My parents were married when Reagan was president, when the first Bush was president, when Clinton was president, and then the second Bush as well. They had planned vacations, funerals, and my sister’s wedding, together.” Why must they split up now after having stayed together for so long?

December 23, 2009 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2009 Favorites, Contemporary, Family Matters, Humorous

A COUNTRY CALLED HOME by Kim Barnes

When Helen and Thomas Deracotte—the protagonists of the novel A COUNTRY CALLED HOME—first meet, each is desperately trying to break clean from a trying past. Thomas, the son of an alcoholic single father, is brought up by an illiterate grandmother and through hard work, makes it to medical school. When his grandmother passes away just as Thomas graduates from medical school, he can find nothing to anchor him to home. On the contrary, Thomas wants, both literally and figuratively, to put as much distance between him and the life he has known, as possible.

December 22, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Reading Guide, US Frontier West, Wild West

WITTGENSTEIN’S NEPHEW by Thomas Bernhard

Thomas Bernhard is a wonderful wordsmith. He weaves his story in riffs like jazz motifs or the most beautiful of tapestries. In a tapestry, there may be repeat stitches but the colors and gauge change, the dynamic conspires to grow and become something else just as it is being created. Like a weaver or jazz musician, Bernhard repeats the essence of his message in many ways, giving the reader a marvelous opportunity to see into the protagonist’s mind. He is a natural story teller.

December 21, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Austria, Classic, Facing History, Translated, Unique Narrative, World Lit

MANHOOD FOR AMATEURS by Michael Chabon

What is it about the domestic American Male? As a species, he is not rare. To the contrary, he is among the most common of beasts. He is not beautiful, does not have fantastic colors or habits. He is, in fact, anti-exotic. There is nothing about him that is of particular interest, which is to say he is flatly pedestrian. I should know, I am one. Yet, along comes another one, a domestic American Male, and writes a book about it, about whatever “it” is. Someone deems it worthy of publishing and others support that decision by buying the book and reading it. And even, like here, a few choose to write about it. It’s sort of like Rembrandt and later, Rockwell, looking in a mirror as they paint themselves. And me taking a picture of it all, and then all of us looking at it. Really, is it all that interesting? Yes, it is.MANHOOD FOR AMATEURS, is a rich study, worthy of the complex and illusive creature it tracks.

December 20, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Family Matters, Non-fiction, y Award Winning Author

THE LITTLE STRANGER by Sarah Waters

With THE LITTLE STRANGER author Sarah Waters departs from the settings, characters and style of her first three historical novels, TIPPING THE VELVET, AFFINITY, and FINGERSMITH, all set in Victorian England. Nor is this book like her more recent THE NIGHT WATCH, a sensitive and passionate love story set in wartime England. THE LITTLE STRANGER is a sinister, Hitchcockian-like tale of a haunted house, ghosts and madness. It provides a most chilling, unputdownable read.

December 19, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Facing History, Horror, Man Booker Nominee, Speculative (Beyond Reality), United Kingdom, y Award Winning Author