Archive for the ‘Contemporary’ Category

LONG MAN by Amy Greene

“You can’t stand against a flood, Annie Clyde.” Oh, yes she can. Or at least die trying. A descendant of the native Cherokees, Annie Clyde Dodson has deep-rooted connections to the land of Yuneetah, Tennessee. Long Man, the river that courses through, is tempestuous and moody but the farmers here have learned to corral its powers to make their living off the land. The Tennessee Valley Authority though, has other plans. A dam has been built upstream and in a matter of a few days, Yuneetah will be under water. Annie Clyde is one of the last holdouts. She just can’t up and leave the land which she wanted her daughter, Gracie, to know and love. And as much as her husband has plans to find factory work up north in Michigan, Annie can’t stomach the thought of a stark existence away from the natural surroundings she loves.

February 25, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Facing History, Reading Guide, Theme driven, US South

THE WOMAN UPSTAIRS by Claire Messud

The eponymous title of this penetrating and artful novel refers to third-grade schoolteacher and unfulfilled artist Nora Eldridge, who has lived in the Boston area her whole life. It is also the book’s principal motif, surfacing periodically to describe Nora’s various attributes as an uncharacteristically plain woman, a woman who doesn’t rock any boats or shine like a supernova– one who is always nice, mannerly, and unthreatening to others. Essentially, anonymous and invisible. Nora has previously accepted this about herself, living up to the part with emblematic virtuosity.

February 20, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, NE & New York, Reading Guide

WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES by Karen Joy Fowler

The most absorbing books I read have a vital lesson at their core: they teach me what it means to be human. Karen Joy Fowler’s latest book tackles this crucial theme and by doing so, captured my heart and reduced me to tears.

There is no getting around that this is an agenda book. Ms. Fowler’s purpose is to show us—through fiction—that the most complicated animal – the human animal can be disastrous to the rest of the animal kingdom through sheer arrogance.

Typically, I avoid authorial intrusion like the plague. But this book was so irresistibly readable, so original, and so psychologically nuanced that I couldn’t help but turn the pages compulsively.

February 15, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Theme driven, US Midwest

BLUE ASYLUM by Kathy Hepinstall

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 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Contemporary, Facing History, Literary, Reading Guide, Theme driven, US South

SALVAGE THE BONES by Jesmyn Ward

This bighearted, voluptuous, riveting book – one of my favorites of the decade – 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 it’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 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Literary, National Book Award Winner, Reading Guide, US South, y Award Winning Author

BREWSTER by Mark Slouka

BREWSTER reads like a melancholy ballad sung by Leonard Cohen, Dylan, or Bruce Springsteen. It’s like driving down a remote, one-lane dark road surrounding a black reservoir, the starless sky doomy and vast. You are headed toward a forgotten city. Now and then a beacon in the distance blinks like a metronomic eye. Brewster is a static town in upstate New York, where it always feels like winter, “weeks-old crusts of ice covering the sidewalks and the yards, a gray, windy sky, smoke torn sideways from the brick chimneys.”

February 5, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, Literary, NE & New York