FLIGHT BEHAVIOR by Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver is one of those rare writers with whom you know what you are getting before you open the first page.

You know, for example, that the prose is going to be literary, dense, and luscious (take this descriptive line: Summer’s heat had never really arrived, nor the cold in turn, and everything living now seemed to yearn for sun with the anguish of the unloved.”) You know that the content will focus on some kind of social justice, biodiversity, or environmental issue. You know, too, that at some point, Ms. Kingsolver will cross the line into authorial intrusion based on her passion for the subject she is writing on.

But you keep coming back for more. At least, I do. There is something mesmerizing about a Barbara Kingsolver novel, and something refreshing about a writer who combines a solid scientific background with stunning prose.

December 14, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Literary, Reading Guide, Theme driven, US South

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

THE STORM AT THE DOOR by Stefan Merrill Block

Stefan Merrill Block has written a novel so irrepressibly beautiful and poetic that it left me stunned.THE STORM AT THE DOOR is based on the life of his grandparents, Frederick and Katharine. Partly imagined and partly based on fact, this is the story of a troubled family dealing with mental illness, secrets, and denial. It is also about the horror and the power of a psychiatric hospital, along with the myriad patients who have enacted their trust in this institution.

July 1, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Facing History, Family Matters, Literary, NE & New York, y Award Winning Author

FUNERAL FOR A DOG by Thomas Pletzinger

Husbands and wives who work together either end up with their marriage in trouble or being the best of friends. In German author, Thomas Pletzinger’s novel, FUNERAL FOR A DOG, it’s the first scenario for journalist Daniel Mandelkern. Mandelkern is an ethnologist who is supposed to be writing “about anthropological concepts like matrilineality and male childbed,” but instead he’s been getting a series of shit assignments from his boss/wife Elisabeth. Mandelkern is beginning to wonder if there’s an underlying message to these assignments and then he’s told to interview the reclusive Dirk Svensson, the author of a wildly successful illustrated children’s book “The story of Leo and the Notmuch.” Mandelkern protests against the assignment, and with his marriage in crisis, he storms out of his apartment on the journey to interview Svensson.

May 4, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Germany, New York City, Unique Narrative, World Lit

SING THEM HOME by Stephanie Kallos

This is a saga, a sweeping family story that lodges in your marrow, the kind of story that makes you smile, laugh, weep, snort, chortle, sing, spread your arms wide and lay your heart wide open.

With flavors tender, ribald, ironical, farcical, tragic, magical, and wondrous, Sing Them Home narrates an epic story of a family emotionally disrupted by the disappearance of their mother (and wife), Hope, in a Nebraska tornado of 1978. Hope was swept up, along with her Singer sewing machine and a Steinway piano, but she never came down. Due to the absence of her remains, all that stands in the graveyard is her cenotaph.

March 27, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Contemporary, Family Matters, Literary, Reading Guide, US Midwest

SEVEN YEARS by Peter Stamm

The title and the description on the back cover suggest a familiar story of adultery as in the movie The Seven Year Itch: husband, getting bored after seven years of marriage, looks for a younger and prettier woman elsewhere. And indeed there is something of this. But Swiss author Peter Stamm goes out of his way to minimize any normal comparisons between the women. Alexander, the first-person narrator, is married to Sonia, a fellow architect, but more brilliant, more determined than he is, from a wealthier family, beautiful, and self-assured. The other woman, Ivona, is actually an earlier acquaintance, an undocumented Polish worker, dowdy, inarticulate, religious, not at all attractive, yet familiar…

March 23, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Character Driven, Contemporary, Translated, World Lit