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.
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.
One of Zeke Pappasâ€™s biggest heroes is Joseph Cornell, an artist who created â€śassemblagesâ€ťâ€”most of Cornellâ€™s work were glass-fronted boxes filled with a stunning variety of found objects. Zeke loves Cornell because he â€śdevoted his life to the collecting the unhappy scraps left behind by others and trying to distill them and make sense of them. Cornellâ€™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 meaningâ€”no, to find magicâ€”in our collective dross, in the castoff and the forgotten,â€ť Zeke says during one of his annual visits to the Cornell boxes collection at the Art Institute of Chicago.
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
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: Adultery, Berkshires, Happiness, Life Choices, Massachusetts, Motherhood Â· Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Family Matters, NE & New York, Reading Guide
I had dinner recently with a friend who asked me what I was reading. â€śThe new John Irving book,â€ť I told her. She became instantly animated. â€śI love John Irving,â€ť she declared. â€śIâ€™ve read everything heâ€™s written, and watched the movies too.â€ť 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. â€śTell me why you like him so much,â€ť I asked. â€śWell,â€ť she began, â€śhis characters are always so interesting. And the stories, theyâ€™re usually tragic but still somehow funny. I love how he can do that.â€ť I understood both these comments–and agreed. â€śHeâ€™s just different than all other writers.â€ť I understood that too–I think.
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. Sheâ€™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.