I’ve often thought that being famous must be a horrible burden. There would be the fun bits, of course, but there’s a definite downside: the psycho fans, the paparazzi, and the fact that every little thing you do could potentially end up on the cover of National Enquirer. But perhaps what’s even worse than being famous is tasting fame and then fading into complete obscurity.

Rick Bass’s novel Nashville Chrome is a fictionalized account of the Browns: Maxine. Jim Ed, and Bonnie. At the height of their fame, this singing trio was second only to Elvis, and even the Beatles shared a few jam sessions with their idols. Have you ever heard of the Browns? I hadn’t, and I’ll admit that I was some way into the novel before it dawned on me that this is a story of very real and very forgotten people.

September 16, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History

DEAR MONEY by Martha McPhee

Martha McPhee is the real deal. DEAR MONEY is engrossing, intelligent, playful, and timely. And it would be a shame if it did not get the high readership it deserves.

In this Pygmalion tale of novelist turned bond trader, India Palmer is — well, very much like the author herself. She’s a critically acclaimed writer of four books and has just completed her fifth. She and her husband — a gifted but not-so-rich sculptor — are close friends with a wealthy couple who live luxuriously in NYC’s tony Tribeca area. In India’s attempt to “keep up with the Joneses,” she discovers that “one goes broke in a thousand small ways: birthday presents, house presents; ballet classes; lessons in general; theater subscriptions…dinners out…”

June 6, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Contemporary, New York City, Reading Guide


Ginnah Howard’s NIGHT NAVIGATION is a powerful and unflinching novel about drug addiction and mental illness. It is beautifully written in a terse and spare style that is both rich and evocative. The narrative reminded me of the music of Erik Satie or the pizzicato violin in the andante movement of Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto. The writing is that beautiful and melodic. It made me rise out of myself into the world that Ms. Howard has created.

November 11, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Family Matters, NE & New York

THE FAMILY MAN by Elinor Lipman

In Elinor Lipman’s THE FAMILY MAN, Henry Archer is a recently retired and unattached attorney who happens to be gay. Henry has a shallow, self-centered, and grating ex-wife, Denise, whose third husband, Glenn Krouch, recently passed away at the age of seventy. All of a sudden, Denise tries to weasel her way back into Henry’s good graces.

May 7, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Humorous


When the Author, the otherwise unnamed main character of Amos Oz’s newest work, arrives at a literary evening at the Shunia Shor Community Center in Tel Aviv as the special guest, he expects the usual sorts of questions from his audience. What his audience never suspects is that the author, while answering their sometimes intrusive questions about himself, is secretly inventing names and imaginary lives for them…

April 19, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Israel, Literary, Unique Narrative, World Lit, y Award Winning Author