Archive for November, 2011

QUEEN OF AMERICA by Luis Alberto Urrea

Like its predecessor, THE HUMMINGBIRD’S DAUGHTER, Urrea’s sequel, QUEEN OF AMERICA is a panoramic, picaresque, sprawling, sweeping novel that dazzles us with epic destiny, perilous twists, and high romance, set primarily in Industrial era America (and six years in the author’s undertaking). Based on Urrea’s real ancestry, this historical fiction combines family folklore with magical realism and Western adventure at the turn of the twentieth century.

November 30, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: California, Facing History, italy, Latin American/Caribbean, Mexico, NE & New York, New Orleans, New York City, Texas, United Kingdom, US Southwest, Washington, D.C., Wild West

THE THIRD REICH by Roberto Bolano

Bolaño cites this quotation from Goethe (also given in German) towards the end of this early but posthumously discovered novel. It is as good a key as any to what the book may be about. The protagonist, Udo Berger, a German in his mid-twenties, is literally a guest — in a hotel. He is taking a late summer vacation with his girlfriend Ingeborg in a beach hotel on the Costa Brava where he used to come with his family as a child. Together with another German couple, Hanna and Charly, they engage in the usual occupations: swimming, sunbathing, eating, drinking (a lot), and making love. But shadows hang over this idyll.

November 22, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Germany, World Lit

ASSUMPTION by Percival Everett

The hardscrabble desert land of New Mexico is the perfect setting for Percival Everett’s new novel, ASSUMPTION, mainly because it mirrors the protagonist’s character incredibly well. Ogden Walker is a deputy in the sheriff’s office in the small town of Plata, where he serves after a brief stint in the army. Plata might be where mom Eva Walker lives but Ogden finds her presence not enough of a comfort to overcome his unease with his mixed African American heritage (he is biracial) or his general malaise with what seems to be a dead-end career. He finds it hard to be content hunting for the small fish even if a colleague tells him, “A big fish is fun, I suppose, but so are small ones sometimes. Depends on the water. If I catch a ten-incher in a creek that’s two foot wide, that’s a big fish.”

November 17, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Mystery/Suspense, Thriller/Spy/Caper, US Southwest, Wild West, y Award Winning Author

THE MARRIAGE PLOT by Jeffrey Eugenides

“Reader, I married him.”

What sensitive reader hasn’t thrilled to the last lines of the novel JANE EYRE, when the mousy and unprepossessing girl triumphantly returns to windswept Thornfield as a mature woman, marrying her one-time employer and great love, Mr. Rochester?

That era of these great wrenching love stories is now dead and gone. Or is it?

November 16, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Literary, NE & New York, Reading Guide, y Award Winning Author

ED KING by David Guterson

ED KING had me mesmerized from the first page and did not let up throughout the book. It is a contemporary retelling of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex set in the American northwest. The protagonist’s name, Ed King, means Oedipus Rex. Ed is short for Oedipus and Rex means “king” in Greek. Ed’s middle name is Aaron and one could read into this, “Ed, A King.” There is no real subtlety to the retelling. The characters change but the story remains the same. Ed kills his father and marries his mother. It is a Greek tragedy of great proportions and strength, hubris and loss.

November 13, 2011 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Contemporary, Literary, US Northwest, y Award Winning Author

BLUE NIGHTS by Joan Didion

BLUE NIGHTS is ostensibly about the loss of a child. In reality, however, it is about the passing of time. Indeed, it is the passing of time that captures all loss, loss of children, of loved ones, and ultimately, of self. It is the classic Heritclitian flow and Ms. Didion has here given herself to it fully, embracing every ripple, bend and eddy. With superhuman strength she resists fighting the current. She does not emote. She does not wax sentimental. Rather she turns her hard-edged and beautiful prose squarely upon her subject matter–as she always has done–and sets to work. Yet even she wonders if the manner in which she practices her art is up for the task.

November 10, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: End-of-Life, Non-fiction, y Award Winning Author