NUDE WALKER by Bathsheba Monk

THE NUDE WALKER in Bathsheba Monk’s entertaining read is Barbara Warren, a schizophrenic who tends to walk around downtown Warrenside in the buff when she’s off her meds. The Warrens were once the industrial scions in Warrenside, a fictional town in Pennsylvania. As the town, which used to be the center of the booming steel industry, gradually went into decline, so too rusted the fortunes of the Warrens. These days, Barbara isolates herself in the past, clinging on to memories of the glory days and worrying (because nobody else will, she says) that by 2012, European Americans would be the minority in town.

March 18, 2011 · Judi Clark · Comments Closed
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Contemporary, Debut Novel, Reading Guide, US Mid-Atlantic

THE INTIMATES by Ralph Sassone

Robbie and Maize, the principal characters in Ralph Sassone’s immensely readable debut novel, THE INTIMATES, totally fit the profile of these restless and searching young adults. As the book opens, the two are still in high school; Maize nurses a crush on her guidance counselor and when Robbie’s path crosses hers, it doesn’t immediately amount to much. Robbie is gay—a fact he doesn’t realize until much later in high school.

February 21, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Contemporary, Debut Novel, New York City

GHOST LIGHT by Joseph O’Connor

GHOST LIGHT by Joseph O’Connor is a brilliant and complex book. It is one of the best books I have read in the last five years. The language is poetic and hallucinatory and this is a book where one can’t skip passages or lines. Every word is necessary and the whole is a gift put together with the greatest care and love.

February 1, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Facing History, Reading Guide, United Kingdom

COMEDY IN A MINOR KEY by Hans Keilson

To be comfortable in the world of the Kafkaesque, one must slowly climb up the literary ladder, page after page, year after year. My journey began with the likes of V.C. Andrews during my tawdry youth, and then eventually reached its pinnacle with Tolstoy, and of course, Kafka. Aside from my literary snobbery (which is nothing short of a veneer – I still love me some Sidney Sheldon), having entered Kafka’s abyss of absurdity and horror makes Hans Keilson’s novel, COMEDY IN A MINOR KEY, not only recognizable, but entirely brilliant.

December 16, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Classic, Holland, Reading Guide, World Lit

TRAVELS IN SIBERIA by Ian Frazier

Hints of travel writer Ian Frazier’s latest project showed up in a recent issue of the New Yorker magazine, when an excerpt from TRAVELS IN SIBERIA was published. Having evocatively captured the spirit of a Native American reservation and the American Great Plains in earlier work, Frazier set his sights on a much grander level—he decided to travel across Siberia. A self-confessed lover of all things Russian, Frazier travels across Siberia despite warnings to the contrary

November 10, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Non-fiction, Russia

DEATH OF THE ADVERSARY by Hans Keilson

What is the relationship between persecutors and their victims? In THE DEATH OF THE ADVERSARY – poised on the brink of what soon will be one of the world’s most horrific tragedies – an unnamed narrator in an unnamed country reflects on an unnamed figure who will soon ascend to power. Although the figure (“B”) is never revealed, it soon becomes obvious that he is Hitler and that the narrator is of Jewish descent.

October 22, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Allegory/Fable, Classic, Facing History, Germany, World Lit