DISASTER WAS MY GOD by Bruce Duffy

I was in my late thirties when the poet Arthur Rimbaud first crossed my horizon. It was Jim Harrison, the American writer, who brought him to my attention. In his memoir OFF TO THE SIDE, Harrison writes, “I think that I was nineteen when Rimbaud’s ‘Everything we are taught is false’ became my modus operandi.” Harrison continues, “…Rimbaud’s defiance of society was vaguely criminal and at nineteen you try to determine what you are by what you are against.” I admire Harrison a great deal. If he liked Rimbaud, if Rimbaud was the man, then I needed to know more.

October 13, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Facing History, France

THE CAT’S TABLE by Michael Ondaatje

In his new novel, THE CAT’S TABLE, Michael Ondaatje imagines a young boy’s three-week sea voyage across the oceans, from his home in Colombo, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) to England. The eleven-year-old travels alone and is, not surprisingly, allocated to the “lowly” Cat’s Table, where he joins an odd assortment of adults and two other boys of similar age.

October 7, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, Facing History, Literary

BOXER, BEETLE by Ned Beauman

First-time author Ned Beauman really lays it out there in the first chapter of this extraordinary novel, which begins with an imaginary surprise birthday party thrown by Hitler for Joseph Goebbels in 1940. It is an exhilarating, outrageous opening to a book that will in fact take a quite different course. But it is important as a way of establishing the moral parameters (and this IS a moral book) and freeing up an imaginative space in which Beauman can explore some ideas that are normally unapproachable.

September 13, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Facing History, Humorous, Satire, United Kingdom

THE TWELFTH ENCHANTMENT by David Liss

THE TWELFTH ENCHANTMENT, by David Liss, starts off promisingly. It is the early nineteenth century and our heroine, Lucy Derrick, is a twenty-year-old orphan who is living unhappily in Nottingham, England, with her cruel uncle and an abusive woman named Mrs. Quince. Although she was well-educated by her late father, Lucy was left almost penniless when he died. She is at the mercy of her vicious uncle, Richard Lowell, who cannot wait to be rid of her. In fact, her uncle plans to give her hand in marriage to a thirty-five year old, dried up prune of a man named Olson, the owner of a local hosiery mill.

August 26, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Scifi, United Kingdom, y Award Winning Author

THE DAYS OF THE KING by Filip Florian

It’s 1886, and the dentist Joseph Strauss follows Karl Ludwig of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen from Prussia to Bucharest, where the latter is crowned King Carol I of Romania. Carol’s relationship with Joseph strays beyond the dental boundaries and they develop a certain camaraderie, particularly when Joseph arranges for the services of a blind prostitute to be made available (in strictest secret) to the politically beleaguered king. It is precisely the intimate nature of the knowledge Joseph carries which eventually leads to the king’s deliberate distancing of himself from the dentist. However, when the three-year-old Princess Maria dies of scarlet fever, and no further heirs seem forthcoming, Joseph wonders whether the King ought to be informed that the blind whore now has a son with a suspiciously aristocratic nose.

August 17, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Facing History, Romania, Translated, World Lit, 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