Archive for August, 2011

THE ECHO CHAMBER by Luke Williams

Evie Steppman’s mammoth ears are a repository of history, memory, and time. She was born unnamed to British parents in Lagos, Nigeria, during the end of British colonial rule (1946), and, now in her fifties, she is chronicling her story and the stories of various individuals from a collection of documents, letters, diaries, pamphlets, photographs, and assorted, emotionally powerful objects, or “unica” (one-of-a-kind objects).

August 16, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Character Driven, Contemporary, Debut Novel, Facing History, World Lit

THE MISSING OF THE SOMME by Geoff Dyer

When I first read just the title of this book — THE MISSING OF THE SOMME — I thought perhaps it was an historical novel about World War I, or possibly a linear history of some of the men who had never come home from the fields of battle. Then, reading the Vintage description of Geoff Dyer’s slim volume, I banished those ideas in favor of curiosity about a work that “weaves a network of myth and memory, photos and film, poetry and sculptures, graveyards, and ceremonies that illuminate our understanding of, and relationship to, the Great War.” Did Dyer ably marry these diverse elements and create a memorable contribution to WWI literature?

August 15, 2011 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, World Lit

SMUGGLED by Christina Shea

This is Éva Farkas, a Hungarian Jew, releasing a homing pigeon in the bleak courtyard at Auschwitz sometime in the early 1990s. Smuggled out of Hungary at the age of five, she has survived by living under an assumed name (Anca) in Romania, survived years of Communist oppression, years of “peeping between her fingers,” always in fear of denunciation, paying for accomodation with access to her body. Now, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, she has come home again to reclaim her old identity and embark on a life too long postponed.

August 14, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Reading Guide, Romania, World Lit

FRENCH FEAST: A TRAVELER’S LITERARY COMPANION edited by William Rodarmor

According to Richard Wrangham, a biological anthropologist at Harvard, when Homo erectus, already master over fire, threw some tubers on a spit, freeing up nutrients and easing digestion, teeth, jaws and intenstines shrunk, paving the way for the evolution of larger brains, and us, Homo sapiens. In the wilds of the prehistoric world, it’s likely our human ancestors gathered around a single fire for safety, and a communal feast, suggesting that our need to sit and break bread with each other – rather than scarfing down food, alone, in a moving car –is an ancient memory buried deep in our brains.

August 13, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: France, Short Stories, Translated, World Lit

THE TAO OF TRAVEL by Paul Theroux

How many travelers has Paul Theroux influenced, I wonder? If poets and composers and artists are prodded, pushed and inspired by predecessors and peers, why not travelers?

August 12, 2011 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Non-fiction, y Award Winning Author

LADIES’ MAN by Richard Price

Crude and hilarious, LADIES’ MAN from American author and screenwriter, Richard Price is a week in the life of Kenny Becker, a thirty-year-old college dropout who works as door-to-door salesman selling crappy cheap gadgets. It’s the 1970s, and Kenny lives in New York with his girlfriend, “bank clerk would-be singer” La Donna, a good-looking, marginally talented girl whose big night revolves around a cheesy talent contest at a hole- in-the-wall club called Fantasia. Kenny has a series of failed relationships in his past, and when the book begins, La Donna’s singing lessons, according to Kenny, appear to be placing a strain on the couple.

August 11, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Allegory/Fable, Character Driven, Contemporary, Debut Novel, Drift-of-Life, Humorous, New Orleans