Archive for July, 2011
There is that question we asked one another in college: Who in history, if you could meet and talk to whomever you wished, would you select?… Reading Lipskyâ€™s book, ALTHOUGH OF COURSE YOU END UP BEING YOURSELF, reads like a contemporary answer to the â€śwho would you chooseâ€ť hypothesis. Wallace is gone now, but what if you could just spend a few days with him, even a few hours? What was the man like, really? By his work, he will be remembered. But what of the man?
The premiseâ€”we are shaped by our interactions with othersâ€”sounds like something from a school summer writing assignment and is almost too bland to be worked with. But if truly great writing creates marvels from almost nothing, then Christie Hodgenâ€™s ELEGIES FOR THE BROKENHEARTED is one such wonder.
Odysseus was a legendary and cunning hero on a journey to find home, and lived by his guile. Annie Oakley was a sharpshooter with an epic aim, living by her wits. Siddhartha traveled on a spiritual quest to find himself, and defined the river by its timelessnessâ€”always changing, always the same. Now, in Bonnie Jo Campbellâ€™s adventure story, we are introduced to sixteen-year-old Margo Crane, gutsy, feisty survivor who manifests a flawed blend of all three heroes, who lives once and inexorably upon a river.
A “story man” walks from village to village across bare African lands, carrying a heavy book bag over his shoulder, filled with an odd collection of English language classics that visitors gave to him when passing through the villages. The books have opened his mind, like windows into another world: “I have read their books and told their stories very many times. I understand them, have seen the places that made them, seen the lives they want to live…” Charles Davis’ new novel, STANDING AT THE CROSSROADS, set most likely in Sudan, is an heart-rending example of superbly imaginative storytelling.
THE QUANTUM THIEF by Hannu Rajaniemi is a tremendous first novel, first published in Great Britain last year and now in the US. It is a wild adventure story taking place centuries from now on Mars. The solar system has been colonized by our descendents, not all of whom get along. Technologies based on quantum weirdness are everywhere. Robotics has progressed well beyond true artificial intelligence. Jean le Flambeur, master thief, is broken free from prison to steal some time. This is what might be called hard science fiction in that the science is an intelligent and informed extrapolation of what we now know or speculate.
Nestled in the pristine Finnish woods is a sanatorium for women. Itâ€™s the 1920s and medicine and its accompanying attitudes towards womenâ€™s health is moving from Victorian ideas to more modern methods of treatment, but those shifts have not yet reached the womenâ€™s hospital at Suvanto. This vast multistoried building is still part spa for the wealthy wives of the male employees for the local timber company, and part hospital for the poor. This is a building with sharp physical and mental divisions between staff and patients and also between the patients themselves. The poor patients–those who are considered “really” ill are kept on the bottom floors, while the convalescing wives of the timber employees, called the “up-patients” lodge on the 5th floor.
July 15, 2011
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: Gothic, Graywolf, Mental Health/Illness, Scandinavian Â· Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Family Matters, Finland, Mystery/Suspense, Unique Narrative