THE UNAMERICANS by Molly Antopol

A title such as THE UNAMERICANS begs this question: what is an American? Or more specifically, what is an American in Molly Antopol’s world? A traditional answer might be to have a personal sense of identity and to be unencumbered to pursue one’s most shining hopes and dreams in a land where anything is possible.

Molly Antopol’s characters are mostly Jewish and they are mostly alienated – from spouse or kids, from past ideology and beliefs, and often, from their most authentic selves. Each story is a little gem onto itself.

February 26, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 5 under 35, Short Stories, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

PALISADES PARK by Alan Brennert

PALISADES PARK is no roller coaster ride of a novel, rather it is a well written love letter to a “cherished part of the author’s childhood.” (author’s quote). This is a fascinating historical fiction, written with love to a magical place and era long gone.

January 25, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, NE & New York

THE WOMAN WHO LOST HER SOUL by Bob Shacochis

This is a big book in every sense of the word: big in breadth, in ideas, in audacity. You will lose your heart to it and end up shaking your head in awe and admiration. And along the way, you will learn something about the shadowy world of politics and espionage, the hypocrisy of religion, and the lengths that the players go to keep their sense of identity – their very soul – from fragmenting.

January 3, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, Facing History, Latin American/Caribbean

ON CANAAN’S SIDE by Sebastian Barry

So here I was yesterday, pounding my treadmill, reading Sebastian Barry’s new novel, alternately sobbing and laughing aloud at the sheer magnificence of it, reveling in the exuberant brilliance of his writing. Admittedly, exertion at the gym calls forth such strong reactions, but the book had touched me quietly already with its first pages upon waking, and would retain its hold through the limpid ambiguity of its final paragraphs, read before going very late to bed. Yes, I finished it in a single day; I could not help myself.

September 18, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: End-of-Life, Facing History, Literary, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

TRAIN DREAMS by Denis Johnson

Denis Johnson won an O. Henry prize for this novella of the old American West in 2003. It originally appeared in the Paris Review but is now reissued and bound in hardback with an apt cover art—a painting by Regionalist Thomas Hart Benton called “The Race.” If you contemplate the painting for a while, you may feel the ghost of the book’s protagonist, Robert Grainier, as he, too, felt the ghosts and spirits of the dead.

August 30, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Reading Guide, US Northwest, Wild West, y Award Winning Author

RAGTIME by E. L. Doctorow

E.L. Doctorow’s 1974 masterpiece, Ragtime, takes its name from the a style of music, the melodious offspring of blackface cakewalks and patriotic marches, that perfectly captures the optimism and energy of the America in the early 1900s. It’s aptly titled too, for Doctorow manages to capture the energy of the era, a time of hitherto unheard of growth and prosperity, a time when coal miners took on the capitalists for safer work conditions and fair pay, and won; a time when a single, socially- minded photographer, documenting immigrant ghettos, took pictures powerful enough to move a president and serve as evidence of the necessity of improved housing conditions for the poor; a time when American entrepreneurs amassed more wealth than some European monarchy, through little more than hard work and talent. However, it was also the era of Jim Crow legislation and the venomous prejudice that made it impossible for a black man to materially enjoy his success, say, by driving a shiny new Model T Ford – but more on that later.

July 30, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Classic, Facing History, National Book Critic Circle (NBCC), NE & New York, New York City, y Award Winning Author