Archive for the ‘2013 Favorites’ Category

THE INTERESTINGS by Meg Wolitzer

The greatest gift that any writer can give her readers is providing them with a fictional world they can immerse – and ultimately lose – themselves in.

That’s precisely what Meg Wolitzer achieves in THE INTERESTINGS, surely the most fully-realized and satisfying book of her career.

This panoramic saga focuses on a group of Baby Boomers from the time they meet at a camp for the creatively gifted as teenagers through middle age. The bond that draws these divergent characters together is powerful and special; they dub themselves “The Interestings.” And the bond, for the most part, is stretched, sustained, and redefined as they age.

March 24, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, New York City, Reading Guide

BEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walter

After looking up various images of the 1963 movie Cleopatra, the film that critically bombed but was lit up by the scandal of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, I saw a coastline of Italy that looked exactly like the cover of this book. It is a most felicitous cover that captures the mood and time that this novel begins, in 1962. A parochial innkeeper, Pasquali Tursi, lives in a rocky coastline village called Porto Vergogna (Port of Shame), a place the size of a thumb between two mountains, and referred to as “the whore’s crack.”

March 16, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, Contemporary, Facing History, italy, Literary, US Northwest, World Lit

A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING by Ruth Ozeki

How do a century-old modern-thinking Buddhist nun, a WW II kamikaze pilot, a bullied 16-year-old Japanese schoolgirl on the verge of suicide, her suicidal father, a struggling memoirist on a remote island of British Columbia, Time, Being, Proust, language, philosophy, global warming, and the 2011 Japanese tsunami connect?

In this brilliantly plotted and absorbing, layered novel, one can find the theme in a quote from Proust, quoted by Ozeki:

“In reality, every reader, while he is reading, is the reader of his own self.”

January 27, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, 2013 Man Booker Shortlist, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, Japan, Literary, Unique Narrative

FALLEN LAND by Patrick Flanery

A perfect title for a stunning book. Its literal meaning is explained in the 1919 prologue, when a tree on which two men have been lynched falls deep into a sinkhole with the bodies still on it. The rest of the novel takes place in the present, or perhaps the not too distant future, when the land has been developed as an upscale subdivision for a rapidly growing city in the Midwest. But we are not quite there yet. In a second, slightly longer prologue, a woman goes to visit a convict on death row. It is a creepy, brilliant scene, although we know little of either of them, except that his name is Paul Krovik, and she regards him as a destroyer.

January 23, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, Contemporary, Theme driven, US Midwest

NIGHT FILM by Marisha Pessl

This psychological, genre-bursting/ busting literary thriller took me on a high-speed chase into a Byzantine rabbit hole into the quirkiest, eeriest, darkest parts of the soul. Investigative reporter Scott McGrath is on a quest to exhume the facts of a young piano prodigy’s tragic end. Ashley Cordova, 24, daughter of cult-horror film director, Stanislav Cordova, was found dead–allegedly a suicide. The now reclusive director (30 years isolated from known whereabouts) is the reason for McGrath’s ruined reputation five years ago, and Scott is hungry to turn things around, upside down, and inside out to pursue Cordova again and save himself. And to disinter the “truth,” which itself can be an illusory concept in this cat and mouse thriller.

January 11, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, Horror, Literary, Mystery/Suspense, New York City, Reading Guide, Thriller/Spy/Caper

LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson’s first novel, SCENES AT THE MUSEUM, began with two words: “I exist!” This one says, “I exist! I exist again! And again!” LIFE AFTER LIFE is a marvel. It’s one of the most inventive novels I’ve ever read, rich with details, beautifully crafted, and filled with metaphysical questions about the nature of time, reality, and the ability of one person to make a dramatic difference based on one small twist of fate. In short, it’s amazing.

January 8, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, 2013 Man Booker Shortlist, Alternate History, Costa Award (Whitbread), Facing History, Literary, Reading Guide, Unique Narrative, y Award Winning Author