WHITE SPACE BETWEEN by Ami Sands Brodoff

ami Sands Brodoff opens with an epigraph from Rabbi Avi Weiss: “The Torah is written ‘black fire on white fire’ . . . black fire refers to the letters of the Torah . . . the white refers to the spaces between the letters . . . they are the story, the song, the silence.” Exploring the story, singing the song, reflecting on the silence, these are the promises of this intimate yet ambitious novel, and they are both moving and beautiful. To say that Brodoff does not quite realize them is not to diminish the value of her search. The book is a sincere and obviously personal attempt to illuminate mysteries that may ultimately remain unknowable.

December 3, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Canada, Contemporary, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

THE MARRIAGE ARTIST by Andrew Winer

Andrew Winer has written a potboiler that is also literary. Writing about such a serious subject as the Holocaust sometimes constricts a novelist into a more conventional form of storytelling/historical fiction. But as we have seen with such books as Frederick Reiken’s DAY FOR NIGHT and Nicole Krauss’s more postmodern GREAT HOUSE, as well as Death as a narrator in Markus Zusak’s THE BOOK THIEF, the only unwritten rules are to grip the reader in a credible story and to edify through words. Winer has done both, and he puts his unique stamp on it with his fluid, page-turning, thriller style blended with his out-of-the-box imagination and mellifluous prose. Like Plath did so craftily with THE BELL JAR, Winer will reach a wider audience by his hewing of the elevated with the pedestrian. Saul Bellow meets Stephen King. I applaud his ambitious style, which he succeeded with on many levels. Two stories parallel and merge, reaching forward in one, backward in the other, fusing in a transmigration of redemption.

October 26, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Literary, World Lit

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

NEMESIS by Philip Roth

“Tender” and “noble” are two words I have never used to describe a Roth character. In fact, Roth’s usual suspects are razor sharp with a mean streak of self-loathing to befit the most unlikable anti-heroes of the American literary canon. Not to mention, most of his characters are so self-obsessed and entrenched in complicated sexual proclivities that they seldom do the right thing. And much to the chagrin of my feminist friends, I’m amused, if not seduced, by these delinquent male protagonists, and look forward to their self-deprecating demise each and every time I encounter them.

Which is precisely why my love for Eugene “Bucky” Cantor bemuses me in a way I can’t describe. Cantor, the leading man in Roth’s latest novel NEMESIS, is so decent, so likable in a non-Rothian way, that if you’re a stalwart fan of Alexander Portnoy or David Kepesh, two of the most deliciously depraved characters to ever grace Roth’s fiction, then Bucky Cantor materializes like Mother Theresa. And yet never before have I ached for such a character – identified with such a man whose nobility and innocence would have previously escaped me.

October 16, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Literary, Man Booker International Prize, NE & New York, y Award Winning Author

GREAT HOUSE by Nicole Krauss

An imposing wooden desk with nineteen drawers floats through this book like a buoy, and sometimes with shackles, loosely uniting four disparate but interconnected narrative threads. The desk is largely a monument to Jewish survival, loss, and recovery, and mirrors the dissolution, pain, and dire hope of each character. Additionally, it is a covetous object, given a poignant and existential significance by the chorus of voices that are bound to it by their memories.

October 6, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Facing History, Literary, National Book Award Winner, Theme driven, Unique Narrative

THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE by Julie Orringer

The publisher of THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE, this blockbuster book, speaks of its “Tolstoyesque juxtaposition of the fate of the individual with the motions of time and history.” The implied comparison to War and Peace is not unreasonable, in that Julie Orringer also describes the events of a terrible period (the decade beginning in 1937), concentrating on a number of sympathetic characters, mingling bloodshed with romance, and giving herself generous space in which to do so. But this is Tolstoy rewritten in book-of-the-movie style, Tolstoy lite.

August 19, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Facing History