Archive for April, 2011

WE HAD IT SO GOOD by Linda Grant

The sixties generation broke free of the duty-bound rigors of their Depression era parents and the social constraints of materialism, creating a counterculture of hippies dedicated to revolutionary change. As a secular Jewish middle-aged baby boomer, I can well relate to Linda Grant’s portraiture of aging boomers that once embraced the youth and change and idealism of a new and outrageous culture of acid rock music, heady hallucinogens, diversity, and sexual freedoms.

April 30, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Character Driven, Contemporary, Family Matters

LEECHES by David Albahari

Marko’s silence is understandable. His best friend, the unnamed narrator of the novel, is about to embark on a narrative of 309 pages, all in a single paragraph, navigating from trivia to arcana and back again, as he tries to make sense of the apparent senselessness around him. Besides, most of the time they are together they smoke pot, entering a state not known for coherent objectivity, though the protagonist’s pot-smoking declines as the situation around him becomes more fantastic; when life itself supplies enough conspiracies for the most rabid paranoiac, who needs hashish? The run-on writing style is actually appropriate, and once picked up, the book is difficult to put down. The narrator is a professional newspaper columnist with an engaging voice. And the absence of any visual breaks in the text makes any decision to stop reading entirely arbitrary: why stop here when you could go on for another page, for twenty, to the rainbow’s end?

April 29, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Balkans, Literary, Unique Narrative, World Lit

THE BAYOU TRILOGY by Daniel Woodrell

WINTER’S BONE was one of the best crime films I saw in 2010. I discovered that it was based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell, and I was surprised that I’d never heard that name before. But I’m apparently not the only one, and the success of WINTER’S BONE is guaranteed to bring this author new readers. Woodrell is best known as a writer of Ozark Noir, but the Bayou Trilogy is, as the title suggests, set in a different geographical region. The trilogy is composed of three novels from Woodrell’s early writing career: UNDER THE BRIGHT LIGHTS, MUSCLE FOR THE WING and THE ONES YOU DO. The protagonist of the trilogy is Cajun cop Rene Shade. Shade hails from the fictional Louisiana city of San Bruno: “a city of many neighborhoods, Frogtown and Pan Fry being the largest and most fabled, and great numbing stretches of anonymous, bland, and nearly affluent subdivisions.”

April 28, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Mystery/Suspense, Noir, Sleuths Series, US South, y Award Winning Author


M.R. Hall has written an intriguing thriller. Its protagonist, Jenny Cooper, is a coroner for England’s Severn Vale District, close to South Wales. As the book opens, Jenny is just six months into her job. Prior to being named coroner, she was a practicing attorney. In the United Kingdom, the coroner is “independent and answers only to the Lord Chancellor.” This gives Jenny a lot of power to pursue cases and hold inquests. She is not accountable to the police or the Special Services.

April 27, 2011 · Judi Clark · Comments Closed
Posted in: Reading Guide, Sleuths Series, United Kingdom

THE GREAT NIGHT by Chris Adrian

In this phantasmagorical tale, Chris Adrian reshaped “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” into a mammoth, messy, tilted, erotic, meandering reimagining of Shakespeare’s comedy into an elaborate feast of faeries and monsters, Lilliputians and giants, demons and derelicts, heart-broken humans and a group of outspoken homeless people who are staging a musical reenactment of Soylent Green. And that is just a segment of the odd and atavistic population of characters that you will meet in this multiple narrative tale of loss, love and exile. As you enter San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park during this millennial summer solstice, the moon shines eerie and luminous over creatures large and small, and a thick wall of fog sluggishly spreads its fingers during the celebration known to the faerie kingdom as the “Great Night.”

April 26, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: California, Humorous, Speculative (Beyond Reality), Unique Narrative

RUSSIAN WINTER by Daphne Kalotay

Daphne Kalotay imbues the crowd-pleasing qualities of commercial fiction with a soft and sensuous literary touch in this novel of exile and family, love and betrayal. From the Stalinist aggression of Russia to the peaceful, snowy streets of Boston, the reader is taken on a page-turning journey of professional ballet, fancy jewels, and ethereal poetry. This is an historical romance written by a scholar to appeal to readers seeking a satisfying escape. ??

April 25, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Facing History, Mystery/Suspense, NE & New York, Reading Guide, Russia