ORFEO by Richard Powers

The protagonist of ORFEO, Peter Els, listens at age thirteen to a recording of Mozart’s Jupiter symphony and is transported. This novel continues the author’s literary exploration of cutting edge science and its impact on its practitioners. Peter Els becomes a composer of serious music, very much of the current moment in the arts. He is a musical idealist, with a belief in the power of music to truly move the listener. As he matures, his work becomes ever more difficult and timely. As a young man he was a prodigy in music with talent in science as well. The creative juices of both flow in his veins. In college he starts out in chemistry, but becomes enmeshed in music through the musical connection with his first love, Clara. In graduate school at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, his work becomes ever more difficult and “modern,” in part through his collaborations with Maddy, who becomes his lover and later his wife for a while, and with Richard Bonner, an experimental theater director who he meets while in graduate school. Richard pushes him to become ever more radical.

March 20, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Literary, Reading Guide, Scifi, US Midwest

STONE ARABIA by Dana Spiotta

…This nostalgic and affecting story of siblings (and family) is a philosophical meditation on memory and the driven desire for autobiography–to document and render a consequential life, and to assemble disparate experiences into coherent narratives. “And even then,” says Denise, “the backward glance is distorted by the lens of the present…It is not just that emotions distort memory. It is that memory distorts memory.”

September 6, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters

DELIRIOUS by Daniel Palmer

Daniel Palmer’s DELIRIOUS is a nightmarish tale in which Charlie Giles, “an electronics superstar,” suddenly loses his job, his reputation, and quite possibly, his mind.

June 25, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Macavity Award, NE & New York, Psychological Suspense, Thriller/Spy/Caper

SOLO by Rana Dasgupta

How do you write about failure?

Early in this book, its protagonist, Ulrich, a young Bulgarian man studying chemistry in Berlin, is walking down a corridor after Albert Einstein, who drops a sheaf of papers. When he picks them up and runs after the great man, Einstein thanks him by saying “I would be nothing without you.” Much later in life, after his own career has been a failure by all outward measures, and life has almost been crushed out of him by Soviet austerity, Ulrich comes to learn more about Einstein and his callousness to some of those closest to him, and realizes that genius feeds off the failure of others.

March 6, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Balkans, Commonwealth Prize, Literary, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

CHARLES JESSOLD, CONSIDERED AS A MURDERER by Wesley Stace

Wesley Stace’s ample new novel — half murder mystery, half music criticism — opens with a press report on the death of the talented young English composer Charles Jessold in 1923. He appears to have shot himself in his apartment after poisoning his wife and his wife’s lover and watching them die. The murder-suicide has not one but two ironic precedents. It reproduces the story of the Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo, who similarly killed his wife with her lover. It is also the subject of an English folk-ballad, “Lord Barnard and Little Musgrave,” which Jessold had taken as the subject for his operatic magnum opus, due to premiere the following night.

February 4, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, United Kingdom

PAGANINI’S GHOST by Paul Adam

Cremona, Italy. On the eve of an important performance, local luthier Gianni Castiglione is called on to examine Il Cannone, the violin once played by Niccolò Paganini, which would be played that night by competition winner Yevgeny Ivanov. A minor adjustment is made and at the recital both violin and musician perform flawlessly. The next day, however, a concert attendee, a French art dealer, is found dead in his Cremona hotel. Two items are noted among his possessions: a locked golden box and a torn corner of a music score from the night’s previous performance. Gianni’s police detective friend, Antonio Guastafeste, enlists his help and the two soon find themselves on an international chase, on the trail of not just a murderer but of a priceless historical treasure, one worth killing for.

January 5, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, France, italy, Mystery/Suspense, Sleuths Series, United Kingdom