Archive for August, 2011

THE GIRL IN THE POLKA DOT DRESS by Beryl Bainbridge

The late Beryl Bainbridge, who died in 2010, is better known in Britain than over here. The winner of the Whitbread Award, and five times shortlisted for the Booker Prize, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2000, joining AS Byatt and preceding Margaret Drabble. She published sixteen novels over the course of her life, and was working on her seventeenth, THE GIRL IN THE POLKA DOT DRESS at the time of her death. Cast in a clear trajectory heading for an unmistakable conclusion, it does not feel unfinished, though the enigmatic compression which I gather is typical of all her books may perhaps be a little more enigmatic than usual.

August 31, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: United States, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

AN ACCIDENT IN AUGUST by Laurence Cosse

Very early in the morning of August 31 1997, Princess Diana was killed when her car crashed at high speed into a pillar in a road tunnel near the Pont de l’Alma in Paris. Evidence at the crash site suggested that the driver of the car might have lost control after side-swiping a slower-moving car, a white Fiat Uno, near the tunnel entrance. It was not until 2006 that the driver of this car was identified as a young man of Vietnamese origin, but at the time that Laurence Cossé published this novel in 2003, the Fiat still posed a mystery, leaving the author to imagine a story of her own.

August 31, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Mystery/Suspense, Translated

THE LEFTOVERS by Tom Perrotta

On May 21 this year, many Christians waited for an event, the Rapture, which was to physically transport them to their savior, Jesus Christ. Spurred on by a minister in California, Harold Camping, many were disappointed when the event they were confident was to happen, just never came to pass.

In his new book, author Tom Perrotta explores the what-ifs of what eventually turned out to be a non-event. What if an event like the Rapture did happen? What happens to the people who get left behind, the Leftovers? If Perrotta’s vision were to come true, most of the people who get left behind resort to their own special brand of religious fanaticism.

August 30, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Alternate History, Contemporary

TRAIN DREAMS by Denis Johnson

Denis Johnson won an O. Henry prize for this novella of the old American West in 2003. It originally appeared in the Paris Review but is now reissued and bound in hardback with an apt cover art—a painting by Regionalist Thomas Hart Benton called “The Race.” If you contemplate the painting for a while, you may feel the ghost of the book’s protagonist, Robert Grainier, as he, too, felt the ghosts and spirits of the dead.

August 30, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Reading Guide, US Northwest, Wild West, y Award Winning Author

THE CUT by George Pelecanos

In THE CUT, the first book in a new series, George Pelecanos presents 29-year old tough private investigator and Iraqi war vet Spero Lucas. Lucas’s main job is to help defense attorney Tom Petersen, but he also works on his own at times. After helping gather information that leads to the acquittal of 15-year-old David Hawkins, Spero, at the request of Petersen, decides to visit with David’s father Anwan Hawkins, a drug dealer also represented by attorney Tom Petersen. Hawkins, in prison awaiting a major drug charge, wants Spero to investigate some theft of marijuana from a couple of his employees who are still running his drug business. Although somewhat reluctant, Spero decides to help as long as his 40% return fee cut is agreed to by Hawkins.

August 29, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Sleuths Series, Washington, D.C.

THE STORY OF A BEAUTIFUL GIRL by Rachel Simon

A generation ago, Geraldo Rivera shocked the nation by exposing the horrendous living conditions at the infamous Willowbrook School — a state-supported institution for children with mental retardation. Now, Rachel Simon creates a fictional rendition of this heartbreaking subject of vulnerable individuals locked in institutions out of sight of society.

August 28, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Contemporary, Theme driven