Archive for the ‘Reading Guide’ 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

THE CUTTING SEASON by Attica Locke

The past and the present are inextricably bound, and history is examined, re-examined, and refined within the context of a changing world of ideas, new evidence, and reform. Attica Locke demonstrated this in her first crime book, Black Water Rising, (nominated for an Orange Prize in 2009). Once again, she braids controversial social and historical issues with an intense and multi-stranded mystery.

Locke artfully informs Cutting Season with the dark corners of our nation’s past and the ongoing prejudices and failures to live up to the enlightened ideals of equality and justice. Her fiction tells the truth through an imaginative storyline, and she enfolds these issues and more in this lush historical novel of murder, racism, and family. The title of the book refers to the season of sugarcane cutting.

March 22, 2014 · Judi Clark · Comments Closed
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Mystery/Suspense, Reading Guide, US South, y Award Winning Author

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

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

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