THE COMPANION by Lorcan Roche

Trevor is a young Irishman in New York City. A film-school dropout with a checkered past, he is also a born storyteller whose life, both past and present, plays out in short takes of absurdity, abandonment, and aggression, with brief moments of wonder and wisdom thrown in — not an atypical first-time reaction to Manhattan. Voices speak to him in the soundtrack tones of James Mason or Bob Hoskins as he picks up the outtakes of his life from the cutting-room floor. And in calling him a born storyteller, I should also mention that he is one of the most unreliable narrators one is likely to encounter; most of the book will be spent distinguishing the truth from the falsehoods. As he himself admits: “We lie to protect. We lie to inure. To keep on going we have to lie.”

September 4, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, New York City


Noam Shpancer has written a heady and unique novel that takes its primary form as therapy sessions between a psychologist and a stripper. The psychologist has a limited clinical schedule in his anxiety clinic and teaches a university class to augment his income. He also plays weekly basketball with a group of guys that he barely knows. He’s been involved in a love affair with another psychologist, Nina, and they have a child together. This relationship is ebbing.

August 3, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel

STASH by David Matthew Klein

Debut novelist Klein has written a smart and nervy domestic drama/thriller. The pages fly, and the prose is crisp and economical. He tackles difficult, dicey, and controversial subject matter without handing out platitudes or falling into blunt party line agendas. I am tempted to call it a non-puff beach read. It is lively, energetic, and easily accessible, but it is also thought provoking and ultimately bold.

July 28, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Mystery/Suspense, Reading Guide


The poverty of Southern Italy and the negative results of globalization are at the roots of the novella The Homecoming Party from Italian author Carmine Abate. Told through the eyes of Marco Tullio, the story covers certain pivotal moments in the lives of Marco’s family.

The book begins in Southern Italy at a Christmas bonfire while Marco sits with his father on the steps of a church. These are good times for 12-year-old Marco as he basks in the all-too rare company of his father, but as the evening wears on, Marco’s father tells stories about working in France, and Marco’s mind wanders off to thoughts of his sister Elisa who attends the University of Cosenza and returns home for the weekends.

July 27, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Family Matters, italy, Translated, World Lit


Jack Lang is not great at being in the world. At the start of this quirky and original book, he has impulsively purchased a second ranch house – right across the street from his original house – at an auction. His wife Beth, a teacher at a local college, his just left him for his good friend Terry Canavan. Terry’s long-time girlfriend, Rena, may or may not be coming on to him.

To really complicate things, he is left in charge of his autistic savant son Hendrick, who has a penchant for memorizing the Weather Channel and mimicking advertising (in its entirety) and sloganeering verbatim.

And that’s just the start of things.

July 11, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Humorous, Reading Guide, US South

UNION ATLANTIC by Adam Haslett

After reading UNION ATLANTIC, one fact becomes increasingly obvious: Adam Haslett is one heck of a talented writer. But what might not be that obvious is that he is also prescient. His gripping novel essentially revolves around a large fictional bank (Union Atlantic)’s spectacular failure. Get this: Haslett completed it the week that a real-life bank, Lehman Brothers, collapsed.

Haslett has said that while writing UNION ATLANTIC, he worried that no one would know what the Federal Reserve was, or “if they did they wouldn’t want to read about it in a novel.” He needn’t have worried. After all, life—in this case sadly—imitates art.

February 9, 2010 · Judi Clark · 9 Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Contemporary, Debut Novel, NE & New York, y Award Winning Author