THE GORDIAN KNOT by Bernhard Schlink

Just now and again in this novel, as in the quotation above, one gets a glimpse of Bernhard Schlink the moral philosopher who probed so deeply into the German past with his novels THE READER and HOMECOMING and especially the non-fiction GUILT ABOUT THE PAST. But readers looking to this novel for deeper insights will be disappointed. Although the publishers do nothing whatever to indicate that this is not a new novel, its references to Francs and Deutschmarks, to East Germany as a separate country, and to the still-standing World Trade Center show that the book is not of our time. It is in fact a translation of a comparatively early novel by the German author-jurist, first published in 1988. This matters little to readers willing to accept the book on its own terms, but will disappoint those expecting to follow the recent development of Schlink’s sophisticated thought.

January 14, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: France, New York City, Noir, Thriller/Spy/Caper

CONCRETE by Thomas Bernhard

I’d read wildly different reviews of a Thomas Bernhard book. One review was overwhelmingly positive while another review thought the same book (THE OLD MASTERS) pointless. After reading both reviews and salient quotes, I leaned towards the pointless reaction, but then again, the reviewers’ reactions to the same book were so different, I was curious to try a Bernhard novel. This brings me to CONCRETE, and after reading it, I now understand how this author could provoke such vastly different reactions from readers.

October 12, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Austria, Classic, Literary, Translated, World Lit

WOODCUTTERS by Thomas Bernhard

WOODCUTTERS, originally written as part of a trilogy, is Bernhard’s diatribe about his disgust, revulsion, loathing, hatred and vilification of the hypocrites and losers that make up the art circle in Vienna from the 1950’s through the 1980’s. In his unique style, with not one paragraph in nearly 200 pages, this novel is told primarily in stream of consciousness from the viewpoint of a writer, one not unlike Bernhard himself. The novel is in three identifiable parts – the writer sitting in a wing chair observing a dinner party, the writer discussing his relationship with a recently deceased friend, and the conversations of an actor during dinner.

October 12, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Austria, Classic, Literary, Translated, World Lit

QUARRY’S EX by Max Allan Collins

Another autumn descends and another Quarry novel is on the shelf. These are good times to be a reader. With four Quarry Novels in five years, Max Allan Collins can almost be forgiven for the 20-year gap in the series from the mid 80s to the mid 00s.

This time Quarry, a former hitman for the mob who has turned freelance, is on the set of a low budget biker movie in the late 70s. He’s trying to protect the director, Art Stockwell, from an inevitable assassination attempt. He is also trying to find out who put the contract out on Stockwell’s life. Among the suspects are a Chicago mob boss and Stockwell’s nearly-estranged wife who also happens to be Quarry’s fully-estranged ex-wife. This situation proves to be the first socially awkward moment in the hitman’s career.

September 28, 2010 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Thriller/Spy/Caper, y Award Winning Author

THE IMMORTALS by Amit Chaudhuri

THE IMMORTALS is a tale of two families: one luxuriating in a new world of corporate affluence and the other getting by on the old world of musical tradition. Together, they are joined by a “common, day-to-day pursuit of music.”

Music is the thread that ties this book together, and Amit Chaudhuri knows his stuff. He is, himself, a composer and musician and the meticulous detail and grand amount of exposition is clearly written by a man who has inhabited the world he creates.

September 23, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: India-Pakistan, World Lit, y Award Winning Author


The main character tells another, “Science fiction is the Olympic Games of the imaginatively fit.” Adam Roberts certainly is in the running for a gold medal with YELLOW BLUE TIBIA. His novel, in the form of a Soviet science fiction writer’s memoir, leads the reader on a perplexing, high-strung, high-concept pursuit. Konstantin Skvorecky (the writer); Stalin; KGB officers; other science fiction writers; an American man and woman representing Scientology; and a phobic, tic-ridden taxi driver all play their parts in this elaborate, ironic, schizophrenic “fantasy.”

February 12, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Speculative (Beyond Reality)