AND THE DARK SACRED NIGHT by Julia Glass

Book Quote:

“It is the time of year when Kit must rise in the dark, as if he were a farmer or a fisherman, someone whose livelihood depends on beating the dawn, convincing himself that what looks like night is actually morning. His only true occupation these days, however, is fatherhood; his only reason for getting up at this dismal hour is getting his children to school.”

Book Review:

Review by Jill I. Shtulman  (APR 8, 2014)

Julia Glass’s latest book strikes right to the core of personal identity. How do we solidify our sense of who we are if we don’t know where we came from? In what ways can we take our place in the universe if our knowledge of our past is incomplete?

Kit Noonan has reached a fork in the road. Underemployed with no clear sense of purpose, he is floundering, until his wife urges him to take some time away to work out the secret of his father’s identity. That search leads him back to his stepfather Jasper in Vermont – a self-sufficient outdoorsman who effectively raised him along with two stepbrothers. Eventually, the journey brings him to Lucinda, the elderly wife of a stroke-ravaged state senator and onward to Fenno (from Julia Glass’s first book) and his husband Walter. Read the rest of this post »

April 8, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Drift-of-Life, Family Matters, NE & New York

THE MARRYING OF CHANI KAUFMAN by Eve Harris

Book Quote:

“The bride stood like a pillar of salt, rigid under layers of itchy petticoats. Sweat dripped down the hollow of her back and collected in pools under her arms staining the ivory silk. She edged closer to The Bedeken Room door, one ear pressed up against it.”

Book Review:

Review by Eleanor Bukowsky (APR 7, 2014)

In The Marrying of Chani Kaufman, Eve Harris discloses the secrets of a Chasidic community in Golders Green, London, focusing on the tribulations of three families: the Kaufmans, Levys, and Zilbermans. The Kaufmans have eight daughters, one of whom, nineteen-year-old Chani, is seeking an intelligent, animated, and good-natured husband. The Levys, a well-to-do couple, want only the best for their son, Baruch, and plan to settle for nothing less. The Zilbermans are facing a major crisis. Rabbi Zilberman’s wife, Rivka, is no longer a contented spouse, mother, and homemaker; she is restless, edgy, and depressed. Adding to the tension is the fact that one of her sons, Avromi, a university student, is acting strangely. He is secretive, stays out late, and avoids telling his family where he has been. Read the rest of this post »

April 7, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Man Booker Nominee, United Kingdom, World Lit

THE ACCIDENT by Chris Pavone

Book Quote:

“She knows that she is the obvious — the inevitable — literary agent for this project. And there’s also one very obvious acquiring editor for the manuscript, a close friend who never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like, no matter how ludicrous, no matter what level of lunatic the author. He used to have impressive success with this type of book, even by some of his less rational authors; there’s apparently a good-size book-buying audience out there that inhabits a space beyond the margins of sane discourse. He’ll be motivated to publish another. Especially this one, about these people.”

Book Review:

Review by Chuck Barksdale  (APR 6, 2014)

Isabel Reed, a literary agent for ATM, spends all night reading, The Accident by Anonymous, the new manuscript from her assistant Alexis who was very enthusiastic about it. The book has startling information about Charlie Wolfe, a major media figure with major political connections that is hoping to run for office himself. The information in the manuscript, if true, would certainly end Wolfe’s career as it describes a crime he apparently covered up while a student at Cornell University. Read the rest of this post »

April 6, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: California, Denmark, Edgar Award, New York City, Switzerland, Thriller/Spy/Caper, y Award Winning Author

RAISING STEAM by Terry Pratchett

Book Quote:

“… the man to whom you refer is a master of every martial art ever conceived. In fact he conceived of most of them himself and is the only known master of the de’ja’ fu*. He can throw a punch into the air and it will follow you home and smack you in the face when you open your own front door. He is known as Lu-Tze, a name that strikes fear in those who don’t know how to pronounce it, let alone spell it.

* A discipline where the hands move in time as well as in space, the exponent twisting space behind his own back whilst doing so.”

Book Review:

Review by Bill Brody  (APR 5, 2014)

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett is a book in his marvellous Discworld series. As in all the books of this series, Sir Pratchett spins an immensely readable yarn centered on the impact of an idea, an invention or the like into Discworld society. The ideas he’s tackled include the introduction of paper money; the post office; telegraph; deity, religion, and the corruptible priesthood; warfare rooted in ages-old history; terrorism; and in Raising Steam, the introduction of the steam locomotive. His characters are satirical and humorous, often takes on historical and literary icons, from Machiavelli’s Prince to LoTze to Don Giovanni. Discworld is unlike our own on the surface, but seen through Pratchett’s satirical lens, the reader finds hilarious commentary on our own world and its foibles. His impressive social intelligence and wicked sense of humor make for an engaging read. Read the rest of this post »

April 5, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Humorous, Speculative (Beyond Reality)

LOVE AND TREASURE by Ayelet Waldman

Book Quote:

“…tipped the contents of  of the pouch into his plan. He caught hold of the gold chain. The gold-filgreed pendant dangled. It bore the image, in vitreous enamel, of a peacock, a perfect gemstone staring from the tip of each painted feather.”

Book Review:

Review by Roger Brunyate (MAR 31, 2014)

Ayelet Waldman’s new book begins in Red Hook, Maine, the setting of her novel Red Hook Road, but the two could hardly be more different. For whereas she had previously confined herself to two families in the same setting over a period of a very few years, she travels in this one to Salzburg, Budapest, and Israel, at various periods over a hundred-year span. By the same token, though, it is a stretch to call Love and Treasure a novel; it is essentially a trilogy of novellas, each with different characters, but linked by a single object and common themes. The object is an enameled Jugendstil pendant in the shape of a peacock. Although only of modest value, it plays an important role in the lives of the people who people who possess it, and provides a focus for the novelist’s enquiry into the lives of Hungarian Jews both before and after the Holocaust. Read the rest of this post »

March 31, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Eastern Europe, Israel, NE & New York, World Lit

THE BLAZING WORLD by Siri Hustvedt

Book Quote:

“After she moved to Brooklyn, my mother collected strays — human strays, not animals. every time I went to visit her, there seemed to be another “assistant,” poet, drifter, or just plain charity case living in one of the rooms, and i worried they might take advantage of her, rob her, or even kill her in her sleep.”

Book Review:

Review by Betsey Van Horn  (MAR 30, 2014)

Harriet “Harry” Burden was an obscurely known artist for much of her life, and also a wife, mother, and scholar. She was criticized for her small architectural works that consisted of too much busyness–cluttered with figures and text that didn’t fit into any schema. Her husband, Felix Lord, was an influential, successful art collector, but who couldn’t help his wife for alleged fear of nepotism. After Felix died, Harriet came back with a vengeance, and under three male artist’s pseudonyms (artists that she sought out), she created a combination art (part performance, if you consider the pseudonyms as part of the process) a trilogy which was successful, and even more lauded posthumously. They were shown individually under the names of “The History of Western Art, ” “The Suffocation Rooms,” and “Beneath.” Later, when unmasked (so to speak), they were identified as Maskings. I am reluctant to reduce and categorize Harriet–although labels such as “feminist” may apply. Read the rest of this post »

March 30, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Contemporary, Literary