THE COMPANION by Lorcan Roche

Trevor is a young Irishman in New York City. A film-school dropout with a checkered past, he is also a born storyteller whose life, both past and present, plays out in short takes of absurdity, abandonment, and aggression, with brief moments of wonder and wisdom thrown in — not an atypical first-time reaction to Manhattan. Voices speak to him in the soundtrack tones of James Mason or Bob Hoskins as he picks up the outtakes of his life from the cutting-room floor. And in calling him a born storyteller, I should also mention that he is one of the most unreliable narrators one is likely to encounter; most of the book will be spent distinguishing the truth from the falsehoods. As he himself admits: “We lie to protect. We lie to inure. To keep on going we have to lie.”

September 4, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, New York City

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

A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY by Lauren Grodstein

Just like her earlier debut novel REPRODUCTION IS THE FLAW OF LOVE, Lauren Grodstein’s new book, too, is written from the point of view of a morose male protagonist. The hero in A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY is Peter Dizinoff, a doctor living in a very comfortable New Jersey suburb. In the beginning of the novel we find Dizinoff unhappy and separated from his family, but we are not told why. Flipping between flashbacks, we learn that his son Alec, on whom all of his fatherly expectations are laden, has disappointed his father by dropping out of a promising school.

February 5, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Contemporary, Family Matters, US Mid-Atlantic

NOCTURNES by Kazuo Ishiguro

Music, musicians, strains of regret and longing for what never will be, come together to form NOCTURNES, a collection of five short stories by Kazuo Ishigiro. Winner of the Booker and the Whitbread Prize, Ishiguro, an established master of the longer form (REMAINS OF THE DAY, THE UNCONSOLED, NEVER LET ME GO) experiments here with lighter, briefer fare and that’s what we get.

December 9, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Short Stories, y Award Winning Author

HUGE by James W. Fuerst

James W. Fuerst’s HUGE is a riff on a classic hardboiled detective novel. It is noir scaled down to the suburbs, as traversed by a kid on the cusp of middle school. Video arcades take the place of bars, and high school football players are the hired goons. Instead of being narrated by a jaded man with a suit and a whiskey bottle, the story is told by a chocolate milk guzzling, jam shorts wearing, twelve-year-old boy.

August 29, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: 2009 Favorites, Debut Novel, Mystery/Suspense, Noir, Unique Narrative

THE PROOF OF THE HONEY by Salwa Al Neimi

The nameless seductress of THE PROOF OF HONEY declares, “In my life I have been addicted to beds and stories.” She has studied the classical Arabic erotica of al-Suyuti and al-Nafzawi, as well the Kama Sutra and Western works by Casanova, Henry Miller, and Georges Bataille. She also makes wild and saucy claims of having taken numerous lovers of both genders. These then form the bases of her addictions and a discernable core to her wandering writings about sex in the Near East.

August 8, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Debut Novel, Iran, Translated, Unique Narrative, World Lit