Archive for the ‘2011 Favorites’ Category

CALLING MR. KING by Ronald De Feo

CALLING MR KING by Ronald De Feo is an exhilarating read. It is poignant, funny, serious and sad. It grabs the reader from the beginning and we go on a short but rich journey with Mr. King, a hit-man, an employee of The Firm, as he transforms himself from a killer to a would-be intellectual and lover of art and architecture.

September 1, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Debut Novel, Humorous, Mystery/Suspense, New York City, Psychological Suspense, World Lit

ADIOS, HAPPY HOMELAND by Ana Menendez

I have seldom read such an extraordinary collection of stories, fascinating in their sheer inventiveness, subtly interlinked so that their images reflect and coruscate. It is not entirely right to speak of stories either. Roughly half the two dozen pieces in this collection might be called stories in the normal sense, though some are no more than brief surreal hallucinations. The rest include several poems, two sets of dictionary entries, a letter and the reply to it, a news report, and a brief history of poetry in Cuba. All the pieces are ostensibly by different authors, collected by an expatriate Irishman who introduces himself in the preface and concludes with brief biographies of all the writers involved. All of course are fictional, even the author herself: “Ana Menéndez is the pseudonym of an imaginary writer and translator, invented, if not to lend coherence to this collection, at least to offer it the pretense of contemporary relevance.”

August 18, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Cuba, Short Stories, Unique Narrative, World Lit

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

AND YET THEY WERE HAPPY by Helen Phillips

Like a fairy tale, way (way) back in the day when you could still be enchanted, and yet they were happy makes you feel giddy and haunted at the same time. I found myself blinking a lot while reading, as if I couldn’t quite believe what my mind was seeing. Slowly, I realized: I believe.

August 3, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Allegory/Fable, Short Stories, Unique Narrative, y Award Winning Author

ITALIAN SHOES by Henning Mankell

This is a compact sonata of a novel, composed in four “movements.” The title of the last, “Winter Solstice,” might have been a better title for the whole book, set mainly on a small frozen island off the coast of Sweden. It is certainly an appropriate image: the solstice is the darkest part of the year; after it, the days will get longer, but it will still be winter for a long time. This is a book about resurrection, thaw, the slow flowering of the frozen spirit, but it promises few miracles, and even at the end there are setbacks and reversals — a feeling Nordic people must know well in their long wait for Spring.

July 31, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Sweden, Swedish Crime Writer, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

NORTHWEST CORNER by John Burnham Schwartz

Over 12 years ago, John Burnham Schwartz introduced us to two ordinary families facing an extraordinary crisis – the inadvertent death of a young boy, Josh Lerner, by a hit-and-run driver, a small-town lawyer named Dwight Arno. The book was RESERVATION ROAD, a wrenching psychological study about how a single moment in time can shatter an orderly world into tiny little shards. Now, in a poignantly written sequel, Mr. Schwartz revisits the two families – the Arnos and the Lerners – years later, at the cusp of yet another crisis.

July 26, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Character Driven, Contemporary, Family Matters, US Northwest