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

THE HYPNOTIST by Lars Keplar

THE HYPNOTIST, written by Lars Kepler (a pseudonym for a husband and wife team writing together in Sweden), was tauted by Janet Maslin of The New York Times as “The summer’s likeliest new Nordic hit.” The writing is compared to that of Steig Larsson and Henning Mankell. Other than the novel taking place in Sweden, I observed little or no similarities to either of these two writers.

August 10, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Mystery/Suspense

THE DEVIL SHE KNOWS by Bill Loehfelm

Physically, 29 year-old Maureen Coughlin is a wisp of a woman, 5’ 4” tall and 100 pounds. Emotionally, she’s a powerhouse, a person with acumen, tenacity, and a wild streak just this side of the Serengeti. She works as a waitress, the same job for the last 10 years and she’s just sick of it. It’s a nowhere job and she’s going nowhere. She lives and works on Staten Island in a faux chic bar with the emphasis on ‘faux’. She’s started college and dropped out more than once but she knows that waitressing is not where she wants to find herself down the pike. She lives alone and has no one special in her life except her mother who gives her more trouble than solace.

June 11, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: New York City, Sleuths Series


First, a quick background about Indian (specifically Bengali) cinema: The great Indian filmmaker, Satyajit Ray, was from the state of West Bengal and is one of Bengal’s most revered sons and cultural icons. It stands to reason that years after Ray’s death, the incredibly talented Rahul Bhattacharya (a fellow Bengali) would use Ray’s famous bildungsroman, Pather Panchali, as the inspiration for his debut novel.

At its most basic essence, Bhattacharya’s THE SLY COMPANY OF PEOPLE WHO CARE is also a bildungsroman—it traces the growth and coming of age of its protagonist in a country far away from home, Guyana.

May 22, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Debut Novel, South America, World Lit

THE FREE WORLD by David Bezmozgis

Bezmozgis, born in Riga, Latvia, in 1973, centers this darkly humorous novel on the close-knit, irascible Krasnansky family as they emigrate from Soviet Latvia in 1978, joining the flood of Russian Jews seeking a better life elsewhere. Their way-station on this way to peace and plenty in Canada, America, Australia, Israel – somewhere – is Rome.

There are six adult Krasnanskys and two children. Battle-scarred Samuil, revolutionary and staunch communist, is the literal founder of the Krasnansky dynasty, having shed the family name – Eisner – and taken Krasnansky for “its evocation of the Communist color.”

May 13, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Family Matters, Literary, World Lit

THE GREAT NIGHT by Chris Adrian

In this phantasmagorical tale, Chris Adrian reshaped “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” into a mammoth, messy, tilted, erotic, meandering reimagining of Shakespeare’s comedy into an elaborate feast of faeries and monsters, Lilliputians and giants, demons and derelicts, heart-broken humans and a group of outspoken homeless people who are staging a musical reenactment of Soylent Green. And that is just a segment of the odd and atavistic population of characters that you will meet in this multiple narrative tale of loss, love and exile. As you enter San Francisco’s Buena Vista Park during this millennial summer solstice, the moon shines eerie and luminous over creatures large and small, and a thick wall of fog sluggishly spreads its fingers during the celebration known to the faerie kingdom as the “Great Night.”

April 26, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: California, Humorous, Speculative (Beyond Reality), Unique Narrative