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

THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd

Fourteen year-old Lily Melissa Owens has been a motherless child for ten years now. It fills her with anguish to think that she, at age four, had a hand in the accidental shooting death of Deborah Fontanel Owens, her own mother. Lily’s life has been shaped around this incident, and she has never ceased to yearn for her mother, (for a mother’s love), although her memories of the actual woman have been blurred by time. In fact, Lily has very little memory of that dark day’s events, and is totally dependent on her miserable, sadistic father, T. Ray Owens, for any and all accounts of her mom. The only person who shows her any affection is Rosaleen, a black peach-picker T. Ray brought in from the fields to care for his child.

January 20, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, Theme driven, US South

THE MAID’S VERSION by Daniel Woodrell

THE MAID’S VERSION by Daniel Woodrell is a small book but reads like a tome, with such literate and beautiful imagery that I was enthralled. The book centers around the mystery of the explosion at Arbor Dance Hall in 1929. The explosion killed 42 people, many unrecognizable in death with their bodies broken up or burned beyond recognition. Alma Dunahew lost her sister Ruby in the explosion and for years has been trying to discover the answer to what happened. Those years have been hard on her with several of them spent at the Work Farm in West Table, Missouri, due to her psychic breakdown caused by rage and grief …

December 21, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Noir, US South

THE CONSUMMATA by Mickey Spillaine and Max Allan Collins

THE CONSUMMATA finds Morgan the Raider on the run in Miami’s Little Havana and being chased by “federal suits” teamed with “local fuzz” who think he has 40 million dollars in stolen funds. With no place to hide, the chase seems to be coming to its inevitable conclusion, but suddenly Morgan finds himself snatched and hidden from the feds by some of Little Havana’s Cuban community.

October 9, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Florida, Noir, Thriller/Spy/Caper

CHILD WONDER by Roy Jacobsen

Navigating that shaky bridge between childhood and adulthood is never easy, particularly in 1961 – a time when “men became boys and housewives women,” a year when Yuri Gargarin is poised to conquer space and when the world is on the cusp of change.

Into this moment of time, Norwegian author Roy Jacobsen shines a laser light on young Finn and his mother Gerd, who live in the projects of Oslo. Fate has not been kind to them: Gerd’s husband, a crane operator, divorced her and then died in an accident, leaving the family in a financially precarious position. To make ends meet, she works in a shoe store and runs an ad for a lodger for extra money.

September 28, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Coming-of-Age, Facing History, Family Matters, Norway, Translated, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

MAKEDA by Randall Robinson

MAKEDA is the title character of Randall Robinson’s astounding, thought provoking, and highly engaging novel. A blind retired “laundress,” Makeda’s life is anchored in her tiny, often sun-filled, parlour in Richmond, Virginia. Her modest circumstances, after a life of hardship, stand in stark contrast to her appearance and demeanor: at home, at church and in the market, she is usually clad in richly embroidered beautiful African gowns and she radiates wisdom and emotional strength, instilling respect wherever she goes. Some unknown visitors leave gifts for her, or speak to her as if she were somebody else…

September 11, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Coming-of-Age, Family Matters, Literary, US South