A WIDOW’S STORY by Joyce Carol Oates

This is perhaps the bravest book I’ve ever read. It is searingly personal, raw and and stark. It portrays its creator, the author, in a relief, almost without exception, that is equally painful and tragic. There is no turning away, no place the writer hides–and consequently little relief afforded the reader. There she is, the new widow, Joyce Carol Smith–the persona behind the writer Joyce Carol Oates–struggling to stay alive amidst blinding grief, as revealed in a journey the destination of which is unsure.

February 15, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Non-fiction, y Award Winning Author

THE FATES WILL FIND THEIR WAY by Hannah Pittard

In Hannah Pittard’s absorbing THE FATES WILL FIND THEIR WAY, missing children territory is mined again, and quite convincingly. Sixteen-year-old Nora vanishes one day and no one knows quite what happened. What’s left is a series of rumors, imaginings, suspicions, and what-ifs from teenage boys whose lives she touched.

January 26, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Amanda Davis, Contemporary, Unique Narrative, y Award Winning Author

JUST KIDS by Patti Smith

There are a handful of writers who haunt me. That is, as I’m reading their books they come to me in my dreams, usually with sharp elbows and voices clamoring for attention. Cormac McCarthy effects me this way. So does, not surprisingly perhaps, Friedrich Nietzsche. No writers whisper to me in my dreams. It was the second night of reading Just Kids that I discovered here too a voice so strong and compelling so as to ring in my ears after the book is closed, the eyes shut and the brain turned off. Like caffeine, if consumed after a certain late hour, you know you’re in for a ride. Patti Smith is an original. She is a poet with the heart of a rock star and the drive of an Olympic athlete. She comes at you hard and fast and won’t let go, even in a dream state. She is that mesmerizingly good.

January 3, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Coming-of-Age, National Book Award Winner, New York City, Non-fiction, y Award Winning Author

SOURLAND by Joyce Carol Oates

Here’s how I ended up reading one of these stories in SOURLAND: Standing up – stepping away from it, yelling (sort of) at JCO for being a freak, wishing I was half as good a freak, sputtering inside my head, “Oh yes, this must be exactly what a four-year-old child feels/thinks/is afraid of!” Then, just, oh. She did not. She did that in the end? No way. She did do that. If she was here right now, I’d … let her tell me a thing or two.

Is there anyone literate in the United States of America who has not read a little Joyce Carol Oates? She’s a Master. She’s living. Read her. End of report.

October 14, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Short Stories, y Award Winning Author

MAN IN THE WOODS by Scott Spencer

Scott Spencer’s MAN IN THE WOODS is a novel that chronicles the life of Paul Phillips, a man who has been on his own since he was sixteen years old. Paul is both a simple and a complex man – simple because he has relied on good luck and good looks to open many doors, and complicated because he is an artisan of deep convictions that he is unwilling to compromise. He is not a man to say very much but a lot goes on in his mind that does not come out in words. He creates beautiful furniture, crafts, and remodels with wood. Each type of wood speaks to him in its own way. He has never given a lot of thought to his life. Where he is and what he’s doing have a way of simply falling into place. He has traveled around a lot, living in Alaska, South Dakota, Colorado and currently in rural New York State.

September 14, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Contemporary, NE & New York

THE LOVERS by Vendela Vida

Vendela Vida’s relatively short novel, THE LOVERS, packs a big wallop. It is a multi-layered story about Yvonne, a widow, who returns to Turkey where she and her husband once honeymooned. She believes that by returning to the same place where they had been together early in her marriage, she will feel closer to him. Her husband Peter was recently killed in a hit and run car accident in their hometown of Burlington, Vermont. Yvonne has rented a large home, sight unseen, for a couple of weeks until she is scheduled to meet up with her son and daughter and their partners on a boating trip.

June 24, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Turkey, y Award Winning Author