BOY, SNOW, BIRD by Helen Oyemi

“Nobody ever warned me about mirrors so for many years I was fond of them, and believed them to be trustworthy.” So begins the dazzingly imaginative and enigmatically-named new novel from Helen Oyeyemi.

But what happens when mirrors are not trustworthy? When Boy is really a girl? When a beautiful pale-skinned youngster actually shares the bloodline of the blackest of black individuals? When beauty is not truth and when truth is not beauty? When a mother or a grandmother is not a safe haven but something else entirely?

March 10, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Allegory/Fable, Class - Race - Gender, Contemporary

ALENA by Rachel Pastan

ALENA is a novel about the art world and the people who inhabit it. It is said to be an homage to du Maurier’s Rebecca. However, not having read Rebecca in no way took anything away from my love of this novel. This novel stands on its own and I loved it.

March 6, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Europe, NE & New York

THE SWAN GONDOLA by Timothy Schaffert

Swan Gondola literally starts off with a bang! Two elderly sisters, Emmaline and Hester, known by most in their small county, as the “Old Sisters Egan,” are sitting in their Nebraska farm kitchen drinking coffee. The day has been a peaceful one. Suddenly the house begins to shiver and shake and they are enveloped in noise, a loud BANG!! Books fall from their shelves, china dishes and cups fall to the floor, breaking, chimney bricks drop into the hearth, their caged canaries stop singing and the two sisters are left stunned, shocked.

February 14, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, US Frontier West, Wild West

FALLEN LAND by Patrick Flanery

A perfect title for a stunning book. Its literal meaning is explained in the 1919 prologue, when a tree on which two men have been lynched falls deep into a sinkhole with the bodies still on it. The rest of the novel takes place in the present, or perhaps the not too distant future, when the land has been developed as an upscale subdivision for a rapidly growing city in the Midwest. But we are not quite there yet. In a second, slightly longer prologue, a woman goes to visit a convict on death row. It is a creepy, brilliant scene, although we know little of either of them, except that his name is Paul Krovik, and she regards him as a destroyer.

January 23, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2013 Favorites, Contemporary, Theme driven, US Midwest

ABSOLUTION by Patrick Flanery

Patrick Flanery’s debut novel is a very interesting example of an overarching story that incorporates another “novel” or “memoir,” a journal and more embedded inside it. Set in post-apartheid South Africa Absolution is a thought provoking book, and engaging; not necessarily, or least of all, in the sense one would initially expect.

November 30, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Debut Novel, World Lit