Archive for December, 2013

THE SON by Philipp Meyer

There is nothing small about the state of Texas nor is there anything small about this epic masterpiece of a novel, which will surely catapult Philipp Meyer into the ranks of the finest American novelists.

What he has accomplished is sheer magic: he has turned the American dream on its ear and revealed it for what it really is: “soil to sand, fertile to barren, fruit to thorns.” The most astounding thing is, you don’t know how good it really is until you close the last page and step back and absorb what you have just experienced.

December 23, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, Facing History, Texas, US Frontier West, Wild West

ALL THE LAND TO HOLD US by Rick Bass

ALL THE LAND TO HOLD US is an apt title whose protagonist is the land – and it is a strange and powerful land. The harsh desert environment of West Texas is extremely arid, bitter and bleak. This environment shapes much of the novel’s character and the characters’ characters. The area receives much less rainfall than the rest of Texas and the temperature has been known to hit 120ºF in the summer. “An easterner, after making the stage trip and experiencing the danger of Horsehead and the Trans-Pecos country, wrote to friends back home that he now knew where hell was.” The setting also includes Castle Gap and Juan Cordoba Lake, an inland salt lake.

December 23, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Literary, Texas, US Southwest, Wild West

THE ORCHARDIST by Amanda Coplin

In this understated and emotionally raw novel of a family born as much from choice as from blood, debut novelist Amanda Coplin explores themes of love, loyalty, courage, compassion, revenge, and honor, as well as the lifelong, traumatic impact of both childhood abuse and loss.

December 22, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Debut Novel, Facing History, Reading Guide, US Frontier West, US Northwest

THE MAID’S VERSION by Daniel Woodrell

THE MAID’S VERSION by Daniel Woodrell is a small book but reads like a tome, with such literate and beautiful imagery that I was enthralled. The book centers around the mystery of the explosion at Arbor Dance Hall in 1929. The explosion killed 42 people, many unrecognizable in death with their bodies broken up or burned beyond recognition. Alma Dunahew lost her sister Ruby in the explosion and for years has been trying to discover the answer to what happened. Those years have been hard on her with several of them spent at the Work Farm in West Table, Missouri, due to her psychic breakdown caused by rage and grief …

December 21, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Noir, US South

COUNTRY HARDBALL by Steve Weddle

“I was locked up for a while. Full of the empty darkness, if that makes sense to you. The sort of nothing that fills up everything. Spent the whole time running down the “what if” crap to fill up my soul. What if I hadn’t dropped then? What if they’d buckled up? What if this and that? You can go crazy with that. And maybe I did. And maybe when I got out and was all of a sudden an adult and alone, yeah, maybe I did some things I shouldn’t have. And maybe those were my fault. But that’s the old me. That’s not who I am now.”

December 21, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Noir, US South

THE SECRET LIVES OF BABA SEGI’S WIVES by Lola Shoneyin

Ishola Alao, known as Baba Segi, has a problem that upsets his stomach and general well-being. After two years of trying, his fourth wife still does not show any signs of being pregnant. He already has a stable of kids with his other wives, but what is the use of another marriage if it doesn’t give him more offspring? Furthermore, his young wife, “the graduate,” has been creating unease and tension between his other wives. It is really beyond him to understand what the reason could be, given that he is sharing his favours equally among the women. Something has to be done about his “barren” wife and all else will sort itself out after that. Or does it?

December 20, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Reading Guide, World Lit, y Award Winning Author