THE ASTRAL by Kate Christensen

THE ASTRAL, by Kate Christensen, gets its title by way of its namesake, the Astral building in Brooklyn, New York. This building houses the protagonist of this book, an aging poet named Harry Quirk. His last name befits him and his family. They are interestingly dysfunctional in many ways.

Harry was once a somewhat well-known poet, teaching poetry workshops and writing his lyrical poems in rhyming and sonnet style. His publisher and mentor has moved to Europe and his style is now out of favor in the United States. His wife, Luz, decides after thirty years of marriage that Harry is having an affair with his best friend, Marion. Despite Harry’s pleading innocence – and he is innocent – Luz does not believe him and she kicks him out of their apartment in the Astral.

August 1, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Drift-of-Life, Family Matters, New York City, Satire, y Award Winning Author

SWAMPLANDIA! by Karen Russell

In her hotly-anticipated debut novel, SWAMPLANDIA!, Karen Russell returns to the mosquito-droves and muggy-haze of the Florida Everglades and the gator-themed amusement park featured in her short story, “Ava Wrestles the Alligator,” that opened her widely-praised 2006 collection, ST. LUCY’S HOME FOR GIRLS RAISED BY WOLVES. It was that collection, with its exuberant mix of satire and fabulism, that secured Russell’s reputation as one of the most exciting up-and-comers around and earned her a coveted spot on The New Yorker’s much buzzed about “20 under 40” list last fall. With her energetic prose, quirky settings, and fantastical plots, Russell is a writer’s whose style forces you to sit up and take notice, sometimes at the cost of emotional involvement with her work. However, Swamplandia!, with all its flashing-neon prose is an insightful (and surprisingly funny) exploration of the loss of innocence that inevitably follows the death of a parent.

February 2, 2011 · Judi Clark · 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, Family Matters, Florida, Humorous, Unique Narrative

THIS IS EXACTLY LIKE YOU by Drew Perry

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

BEACH WEEK by Susan Coll

Those who enjoyed Susan Coll’s last novel will be pleased to know that she has successfully recycled a different aspect of the same material in her newest, bitingly witty satire, Beach Week. While Acceptance took aim at the upper middle class suburban hysteria surrounding the college application process, Beach Week is much edgier, a novel whose focus is the post-graduation tradition of high school seniors in the wealthy DC suburbs. During the summer before college, mobs of college-bound spoiled eighteen-year-olds rent, with the sanction and cosignatures of parents, beach houses along the Delaware shore where they engage in a week of bad decisions and biblical-like immorality.

June 27, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Humorous, Satire, Washington, D.C.

A KIND OF INTIMACY by Jenn Ashworth

Imagine, for a moment, that you live in a nice quiet little middle-class street policed by the local volunteer neighbourhood watch. All the gardens are tidy and well-kept. The neighbours know one other, and nothing much ever happens here. And then imagine that a madwoman moves in next door.

Ok, now switch scenarios and imagine yourself as that madwoman, and that you’ve moved into that nice little neighbourhood. You’ve not only moved there, but you want to belong, you want to mingle, you want to make friends….

June 18, 2010 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Betty Trask Prize, Humorous, Literary, Reading Guide, Unique Narrative, United Kingdom