Archive for the ‘Reading Guide’ Category
Mama Kadie cautiously enters the central path of her village, not sure what to expect, pondering on what has remained and who is still there or has come back like she does now. After the traumas, losses and devastation of the war she experiences profound emotions as she walks barefoot on the local soil, smells the scents of the land and watches and listens for every sound in the bushes. What will life have in store for her? The opening pages of Ishmael Beah’s debut novel, Radiance of Tomorrow, are achingly beautiful; his voice gentle and affecting, his deep emotional connection palpable with what he describes so colourfully. Having experienced international acclaim with his memoir, A Long Way Gone, which recounts the story of a child soldier in Sierra Leone, with his new book he returns to his homeland, sharing with his readers the demanding and difficult path that the local people have to follow in their recovery from the brutal war and its many losses in life and livelihood.
Julian Barnes’ memoir of grief for the death of his wife Pat Kavanagh in 2008 after a thirty-year relationship, must be one of the most moving tributes ever paid to a loved one, but also the most oblique. So let’s start with something simple, a photograph. Look up the title in the Daily Mail of London, partly for the marvelously-titled review “Lifted by Love, Grounded by Grief” by Craig Brown, but mostly for the photograph that accompanies it. Julian is seated. Pat stands behind him, her arms around his shoulders, her chin resting on the crown of his head. Her love is obvious, she whom Barnes refers to as “The heart of my life; the life of my heart.” But equally striking is the unusual vertical composition. Pat, who on the ground was a small woman beside the gangling Barnes, here appears above him, like a guardian angel reaching down.
This is Kathy Hepinstall’s fourth novel… and I’ve read all four, so obviously I like this author. She writes a different book each time and thus one never knows what will be found upon picking up her latest, although one can be sure it will be both literary and lyrical, no matter the tone and subject.
BLUE ASYLUM takes place during the Civil War years on Sanibel Island on the west coast of Florida.
February 9, 2014
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: 19th-Century, Florida, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, lyrical, Mental Health/Illness, Time Period Fiction Â· Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Contemporary, Facing History, Literary, Reading Guide, Theme driven, US South
This bighearted, voluptuous, riveting book â€“ one of my favorites of the decade â€“ is filled with contradictions. It tells an apocalyptic and ancient tale but its topic is fresh and timely. It is told without any pretensions yet itâ€™s lyrical and bracing. It focuses on the microcosm of a family under pressure yet its theme is universal and its messages integrate age-old mythologies.
February 8, 2014
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: Animals, Bloomsbury, Greek Literary Roots, Hurricane Â· Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Literary, National Book Award Winner, Reading Guide, US South, y Award Winning Author
I have never quite read anything like SILENCE ONCE BEGUN. Itâ€™s disturbing, lyrical, original, provocative, and experimental in the best of ways. Yet it stands on the shoulders of giants that came before it: Sartre comes to mind, as does Camus.
The premise is instantly (pardon the pun) arresting. A thread salesman named Oda Sotatsu signs a confession for a crime that has baffled the Japanese authorities â€“ eight older individuals disappear without a trace in what becomes known as the Narito Disappearances. Yet once jailed, he utters barely a wordâ€¦.even though we, the readers, know he is not guilty from the first pages.
Yvonne Carmichael, 52 years old, is a respected geneticist, married for many years with two grown children. She works for an esteemed institute called The Beaufort and is also an external examiner for graduate students. Her life is rich in many ways. Thus, it comes as a surprise to her that when she is scheduled to give a report at the House of Parliaments she notices a man who is giving her a come hither look and she begins to follow him. This begins an extraordinary affair. She doesn’t even know his name or what he does, though after some time she surmises that he is a spy of some type. This first time they have sex, he leads her to the Crypt Chapel on the House of Parliaments grounds and in the rank basement they make love. Yvonne thinks “From my empirical knowledge of you I know one thing and one thing only. Sex with you is like being eaten by a wolf.”