HAPPINESS, LIKE WATER by Chinelo Okparanta

Chinelo Okparanta came to my attention after her story, America, was a finalist for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing. It tells the touching story of a very special friendship between two young women that challenges Nigerian traditions and social conventions… America has been published as one of ten stories in this, her first collection, Happiness, like Water. Okparanta is without a doubt becoming a promising representative of the new generation of Nigerian and African writers who are giving growing prominence to the field of African short fiction writing.

January 12, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Short Stories, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

I MARRIED YOU FOR HAPPINESS by Lily Tuck

Lily Tuck`s novel, I MARRIED YOU FOR HAPPINESS, is the story of a woman mourning the sudden death of her husband. It was shortly before dinner when Philip came home from his college teaching position. When Nina calls him for dinner he is dead. She lies by his cold body all night remembering their lives together. The prose is spare and lovely, recalling their joys, passions and pains of their forty-two years together.

September 8, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Literary, Reading Guide, y Award Winning Author

MY AMERICAN UNHAPPINESS by Dean Bakopoulos

One of Zeke Pappas’s biggest heroes is Joseph Cornell, an artist who created “assemblages”—most of Cornell’s work were glass-fronted boxes filled with a stunning variety of found objects. Zeke loves Cornell because he “devoted his life to the collecting the unhappy scraps left behind by others and trying to distill them and make sense of them. Cornell’s work to me is about our abandonment of joy, about our reckless inability to hold on to something meaningful. This is an attempt to find meaning—no, to find magic—in our collective dross, in the castoff and the forgotten,” Zeke says during one of his annual visits to the Cornell boxes collection at the Art Institute of Chicago.

June 16, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Facing History, Reading Guide, US Midwest

OUTSIDE THE ORDINARY WORLD by Dori Ostermiller

At first I thought this book was not for me as a male reviewer, for its focus is so much upon its central female character and her roles as daughter, wife, and mother. But I soon found Dori Ostermiller gripping me with her writing, and her uncanny ability to plot the emotional seismograph of a woman on the brink of an affair. “I want to ask if she ever felt she was falling through her life, pulled down through dream and memory by a force larger than gravity. I want to know if she felt the splintering pain of it — a terrible, fruitful pain like birth, a pain you can’t stop because you have to know what’s on the other side.”

August 19, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Family Matters, NE & New York, Reading Guide

LAST NIGHT IN TWISTED RIVER by John Irving

I had dinner recently with a friend who asked me what I was reading. “The new John Irving book,” I told her. She became instantly animated. “I love John Irving,” she declared. “I’ve read everything he’s written, and watched the movies too.” I was almost finished with the newest Irving book, LAST NIGHT AT TWISTED RIVER, and was exhausted at what I found to be its inherent ups and downs. I needed her enthusiasm. “Tell me why you like him so much,” I asked. “Well,” she began, “his characters are always so interesting. And the stories, they’re usually tragic but still somehow funny. I love how he can do that.” I understood both these comments–and agreed. “He’s just different than all other writers.” I understood that too–I think.

October 26, 2009 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Canada, Contemporary, Literary, NE & New York, y Award Winning Author

REAL LIFE & LIARS by Kristina Riggle

In REAL LIFE & LIARS, protagonist Mira Zielinski represents a new demographic for our times: hippie turned senior, at age sixty-five still free-spirited and defiant, who has decided to refuse treatment for her recently diagnosed breast cancer. She’s also decided to withhold the diagnosis from her three grown children, as they converge on the family home for a grand 35th anniversary party. As it turns out, however, the Zielinski children are bringing home a few secrets of their own.

October 19, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, End-of-Life, Family Matters, Reading Guide, US Midwest