Archive for May, 2011
Centuries of June by Keith Donohue is a modern fable revolving around American myths and Hindu concepts of reincarnation. The protagonist is a man who awakens to find himself with a hole in the back of his head and no idea of who he is or who the eight nude women sleeping in his bed might be. An elderly figure who he believes is the ghost of Samuel Beckett helps him into the bathroom and then saves his life from each woman as they attack him in historical order of when they were wronged by him in his past lives.
Paul McEuen, a professor of physics at Cornell, makes good use of his scientific knowledge in Spiral, a provocative and frightening techno-thriller. The story opens in 1946, with biologist Liam Connor witnessing a horrifying scene of destruction from the deck of the USS North Dakota. Liam is a prodigy whose expertise includes “saprobic fungi, the feeders on the dead.” At twenty-two, he already has an impressive rÃ©sumÃ©, having spent four years at Porton Down, “the center of British chemical and germ weapons research.”
The world that Alexander MacLeod’s protagonists inhabit is not an easygoing or a comfortable one, it is – a realistic one. Set in different urban milieus, most of his characters are young, struggling to get ahead in life. Some confront personal adversity, hoping for companionship or friendship, others attempt to find solace and even redemption. With his debut story collection MacLeod exhibits an exquisite writing talent that succeeds in capturing, with precision and depth, both the inner workings of the individual’s psyche and their social and physical circumstances. The back cover of the book describes the author – very aptly I find – as a writer of “ferocious physicality”.
Solace, by Belinda McKeon, is a novel about love and longing. As a noun, “solace” means to find comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness. As a verb, it means to give solace to someone else or oneself. This book is about people who find solace in the small things of this world and find it difficult to talk about the bigger things. They hang on to what they know, especially when they face tragedy or their worlds turn upside down.
Tom and Mark are father and son. Tom works his farm in Ireland and Mark is working on his doctorate at Trinity University in Dublin. Tom finds it difficult to understand a life that does not consist of working the land and he finds it very difficult to understand his son.
May 28, 2011
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: 21st-Century, Fatherhood, Job-centered, Life Choices Â· Posted in: Character Driven, Contemporary, Debut Novel, Family Matters, Ireland, Reading Guide, World Lit
I can honestly say that I have not read a book so evocative of place and time since reading anything by Faulkner.
May 27, 2011
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: Bellevue, Identity, Maine, Memory, Nature Â· Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Contemporary, Debut Novel, End-of-Life, Literary, NE & New York, Pulitzer Prize, y Award Winning Author
Margaret Drabble is a well-known English novelist. I have read several of her books and have always enjoyed them. I had no idea that she was also a writer of short stories. A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman is the first compilation of her stories that has ever been published. They are presented in chronological order beginning in 1964 and ending in 2000. Like her novels, these stories often deal with the plight of women in their times, the socio-cultural aspects of marriage, and the difficulties that women find themselves in while trying to both raise a family and be successful in the business world. The stories are distinctively English; the countryside of England as well as the urban landscapes are vivid throughout. There is a span of thirty-six years between the first short story and the last, giving the themes a relatively large period of time in which to develop.