Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

ORFEO by Richard Powers

The protagonist of ORFEO, Peter Els, listens at age thirteen to a recording of Mozart’s Jupiter symphony and is transported. This novel continues the author’s literary exploration of cutting edge science and its impact on its practitioners. Peter Els becomes a composer of serious music, very much of the current moment in the arts. He is a musical idealist, with a belief in the power of music to truly move the listener. As he matures, his work becomes ever more difficult and timely. As a young man he was a prodigy in music with talent in science as well. The creative juices of both flow in his veins. In college he starts out in chemistry, but becomes enmeshed in music through the musical connection with his first love, Clara. In graduate school at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, his work becomes ever more difficult and “modern,” in part through his collaborations with Maddy, who becomes his lover and later his wife for a while, and with Richard Bonner, an experimental theater director who he meets while in graduate school. Richard pushes him to become ever more radical.

March 20, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Literary, Reading Guide, Scifi, US Midwest

YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel of domestic angst, You Should Have Known, is the story of Grace Reinhart Sachs. She is a therapist who, for fifteen years, has specialized in helping couples mend or sever their relationships as painlessly as possible. In addition, Grace’s publicist has arranged interviews and television appearances to stimulate interest in Grace’s forthcoming work of non-fiction. It cautions women to be on the lookout for warning signs that should give them pause before they invest time, energy, and emotional resources in a serious relationship. Her message is that when women fall in love, they are sometimes dazzled by what they perceive as instant chemistry. Consequently, they may not pay close attention to their partners’ flaws; only when it is too late do they realize that should have been more circumspect.

March 18, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, New York City

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

ALL OUR NAMES by Dinaw Mengestu

Mengestu’s third novel—another about the immigrant experience—is his most accomplished and soulful, in my opinion. He returns again to the pain of exile and the quest for identity, as well as the need for a foreigner from a poor and developing country to reinvent himself. In addition, he alternates the landscape of post-colonial Uganda with the racially tense Midwest of the 1970s, and demonstrates that the feeling of exile can also exist in an American living in her own hometown. The cultural contrast of both countries, with a narrative that alternates back and forth, intensifies the sense of tenuous hope mixed with shattered illusions.

March 13, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Class - Race - Gender, Reading Guide, US Mid-Atlantic, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

REDEMPTION MOUNTAIN by Gerry FitzGerald

The setting for REDEMPTION MOUNTAIN is located in Red Bone, West Virginia, in the Appalachian region of the Southern United States. Ranked by median income, it is the poorest state in the union except for Mississippi. The major resource in West Virginia’s economy is coal and the state is a top coal-producer in this country, second only to Wyoming.

From the beginning, in 1863, the state of West Virginia mined coal. While it has been blessed with a vast assortment of natural resources, coal is found in 53 of 55 counties, it is a mixed blessing. The downside of this blessing is about the the environment, the land, the people who mine it, and the unfortunate miners’ families who watch their loved ones leave for work never to see them again.

March 12, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Facing History, Theme driven, US South

ALENA by Rachel Pastan

ALENA is a novel about the art world and the people who inhabit it. It is said to be an homage to du Maurier’s Rebecca. However, not having read Rebecca in no way took anything away from my love of this novel. This novel stands on its own and I loved it.

March 6, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Europe, NE & New York