Archive for December, 2013

A PERMANENT MEMBER OF THE FAMILY by Russell Banks

I have long been an admirer or Russell Banks’ work. This collection of short stories is excellent and many of them kept me riveted for the duration. The collection consists of twelve stories, most of them about the families we have and the families we make. Others are about the figments of truth that make up our experiences while we decide what is worth believing and what is not. The stories take place in different geographic settings from Florida to upstate New York to Portland, Oregon.

December 19, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, Florida, NE & New York, Short Stories, US Northwest

THE LUMINARIES by Eleanor Catton

Twelve men meet at the Crown Hotel in Hokitika, New Zealand, in January, 1866. A thirteenth, Walter Moody, an educated man from Edinburgh who has come here to find his fortune in gold, walks in. As it unfolds, the interlocking stories and shifting narrative perspectives of the twelve–now thirteen–men bring forth a mystery that all are trying to solve, including Walter Moody, who has just gotten off the Godspeed ship with secrets of his own that intertwine with the other men’s concerns.

December 17, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, 2013 Man Booker Shortlist, Man Booker Prize, New Zealand, y Award Winning Author

THE SLEEP ROOM by F. R. Tallis

THE SLEEP ROOM by F. R. Tallis, is set in England in the 1950s. Dr. James Richardson is offered an opportunity to work with Hugh Maitland, a well-known scholar and “the most influential psychiatrist of his generation.” After he is hired, James travels to Wyldehope Hall, in rural Suffolk, a hospital with twenty-four beds and a narcosis room. Severely disturbed patients are given drugs to induce sleep for twenty-one hours a day…

December 15, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Horror, Mystery/Suspense, Psychological Suspense, United Kingdom

FLIGHT BEHAVIOR by Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver is one of those rare writers with whom you know what you are getting before you open the first page.

You know, for example, that the prose is going to be literary, dense, and luscious (take this descriptive line: Summer’s heat had never really arrived, nor the cold in turn, and everything living now seemed to yearn for sun with the anguish of the unloved.”) You know that the content will focus on some kind of social justice, biodiversity, or environmental issue. You know, too, that at some point, Ms. Kingsolver will cross the line into authorial intrusion based on her passion for the subject she is writing on.

But you keep coming back for more. At least, I do. There is something mesmerizing about a Barbara Kingsolver novel, and something refreshing about a writer who combines a solid scientific background with stunning prose.

December 14, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Literary, Reading Guide, Theme driven, US South

JUNKYARD PLANET by Adam Minter

It was probably just a coincidence that we put up our holiday lights today. The setting up of the twinkling bulbs is probably as much of an annual tradition as its other unfortunate side-effect: practically every year, we discover some strands that just don’t work. Now imagine the same scene being played out in every American household. That’s a lot of unwanted strands of Christmas lights. As it happens bales upon bales of these get exported to China, where workers set upon them stripping the wires free of insulation to get at the copper that is one of the most valuable raw commodities a booming China needs. The demand for raw goods — copper, steel, aluminum — in rapidly growing countries like China is fueling a global demand for all kinds of scrap be it metal, plastic and even rags (white rags can be turned into paper).

December 13, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: China, Non-fiction

ELEVEN DAYS by Lea Carpenter

n a blog that she wrote for the Huffington Post, Lea Carpenter notes that eleven days was the period of truce negotiated between King Priam and Achilles in the Iliad after the death of Hector — an encounter movingly narrated by David Malouf in his novel Ransom. It is an appropriate reference for many reasons, not least the almost classical values that Carpenter both celebrates and espouses in her storytelling; this gripping debut novel is immediate in content, ample in moral perspective, rich and thoughtful in its human values.

December 11, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Middle East, Reading Guide, Washington, D.C.