STONE ARABIA by Dana Spiotta

…This nostalgic and affecting story of siblings (and family) is a philosophical meditation on memory and the driven desire for autobiography–to document and render a consequential life, and to assemble disparate experiences into coherent narratives. “And even then,” says Denise, “the backward glance is distorted by the lens of the present…It is not just that emotions distort memory. It is that memory distorts memory.”

September 6, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters

THE FAMILY FANG by Kevin Wilson

Perhaps it’s entirely appropriate that their last name is Fang. For Caleb and Camille are truly parasites—sucking the blood out of their children, while using them primarily in the service of their art. “Kids kill art,” the elder Fangs’ mentor once told them. Determined to prove him wrong, Caleb and Camille incorporate Annie and Buster, their two children, into their art—even referring to them as Child A and Child B, mere props in the various performance art sketches they carry out.

September 5, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Contemporary, Debut Novel, Family Matters, Humorous

SWAMPLANDIA! by Karen Russell

In her hotly-anticipated debut novel, SWAMPLANDIA!, Karen Russell returns to the mosquito-droves and muggy-haze of the Florida Everglades and the gator-themed amusement park featured in her short story, “Ava Wrestles the Alligator,” that opened her widely-praised 2006 collection, ST. LUCY’S HOME FOR GIRLS RAISED BY WOLVES. It was that collection, with its exuberant mix of satire and fabulism, that secured Russell’s reputation as one of the most exciting up-and-comers around and earned her a coveted spot on The New Yorker’s much buzzed about “20 under 40” list last fall. With her energetic prose, quirky settings, and fantastical plots, Russell is a writer’s whose style forces you to sit up and take notice, sometimes at the cost of emotional involvement with her work. However, Swamplandia!, with all its flashing-neon prose is an insightful (and surprisingly funny) exploration of the loss of innocence that inevitably follows the death of a parent.

February 2, 2011 · Judi Clark · 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, Family Matters, Florida, Humorous, Unique Narrative