Articles by Dan
If you are someone who makes in part a living by reviewing books, it is a bit risky to state that an author is tops in a specific field because next month a new one may come along and change your mind. Still, I have absolutely no hesitation in claiming here that Clare Clark is a master of the art of historic fiction. Her latest book, The Nature of Monsters, is a breathtakingly audacious novel that, if anything, surpasses her outstanding first novel, The Great Stink. The titles alone capture the very essence of the place and the periods to which she takes us in her stories.
Alidė has also posted an interview with the author she conducted during Clare's recent visit to Toronto:
As every writer has a different way of approaching the writing of a novel, I wondered whether Clark knew in advance where the book will lead her. "My story comes out of my research. My characters come out of my research. They walk out of it. That way they come out of their time. If a book is good, the characters speak to me. They have a voice in which they speak to you. If not, you end up with Dick van Dyke and Mary Poppins."
June 29, 2007
CBC Radio One Ideas has devoted an entire program to two books from Granta's excellent 'HOW TO READ' series. Ideas host Paul Kennedy interviews Josh Cohen, the author of HOW TO READ FREUD, and in turn David Tacey, the author of HOW TO READ JUNG, to discuss the concept of the 'unconscious' in the work of Freud and Jung.
I particularly enjoyed discovering that there is a Sigmund Freud action figure, but on a deeper level it is a truly fascinating discussion, and it is now available as a podcast from the CBC website.
In fall, Ideas will also be discussing Richard Holloway's HOW TO READ THE BIBLE. Watch this space!
Janelle Martin has posted an extensive preview of the the adult titles coming from Raincoast in Fall 2007 on her blog Eclectic Closet.
June 26, 2007
This book was such a moving memoir. At times I found myself blown away by certain actions, or perhaps more by his honesty and vulnerability in admitting to these things. The reader can't help but feel sense of intimacy with the author as he shares his experiences with us. Binge Eating Disorder is a disease that fills the sufferer with a deep sense of shame and I am so thankful that Ron Saxen was courageous enough to deal with that, provide this incredibly informative book on the subject and let other BED sufferers know they are not alone.
Tom McCarthy, has caused a something of a furore in the UK with an article published in The Times at the weekend:
While artists and curators still draw inspiration from writers, publishing has dumbed itself down--where the UK art market is driven by no more than 50 very well-informed collectors, every schmoe is a book buyer. The point is elitist, and possibly reactionary, but true.
The book, as a whole, is an enjoyably self-conscious literary performance. Echoes of other books, such as The Collector and J. G. Ballard's Crash, are obvious. There are also plenty of elements tossed in for symbol-hunters, especially the leitmotifs of stains and cracks. The smell of cordite is another motif, seeming to follow the narrator around and foreshadowing an appearance by the Devil himself as a London borough councillor, apparently leading the narrator on to the Other Side.
Blogger Ellis Sharp is less convinced of Tom's influences though:
Alex Good is enthusiastic about Tom McCarthy's Remainder - but to my mind, oddly so--Lots of novels remind me of other novels. Not so Remainder, which struck me as utterly and brilliantly original. Whatever the influences may have been, they have been absorbed, filtered and made invisible.
The review refers to the paperback edition which is published by Vintage. We still have a few copies of the lovely hardcover edition available though if you'd like one. They will be collector's items...
June 20, 2007
June 20, 2007
Charlene over at The Literary Word blog has posted a racy review of Chronicle Books' smart and funny guide to erotic vocabulary DIRTY TALK: SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF LUST by Lynne Stanton (with sleek illustrations by UK illustrator Stan Chow):
Lynne Stanton gives us a cute little book that is a breeze to read. This book oozes sensuality, even the smooth velvet style cover screams out with it and while it jumped out at me as making a great valentines gift, it would be a fabulous addition to any bedroom, any time.
Congratulations to Raincoast author Adam Lewis Schroeder whose debut novel THE EMPRESS OF ASIA is a finalist for 30th annual First Novel Award, a prestigious Canadian literary award that recognizes the outstanding achievement of a first-time novelist.
The six nominees for the 2006 First Novel Award, listed alphabetically by author, are:
- "The Law of Dreams" by Peter Behrens, House of Anansi Press
- "The Uninvited Guest" by John Degen, Nightwood Editions
- "Stolen" by Annette Lapointe, Anvil Press
- "Lullabies for Little Criminals" by Heather O'Neill, Harper Collins
- "Certainty" by Madeleine Thien, McClelland & Stewart
Previous winners include Michael Ondaatje, Rohinton Mistry, Anne Michaels, Colin McAdam and Joseph Boyden.
June 19, 2007
I had the pleasure of meeting Clare Clark, author of THE NATURE OF MONSTERS, in Toronto a couple of weeks ago when she was in town for a reading at The Booked! Festival and so I was very happy to see that her devilishly good new novel garnered a great review in The New York Times this weekend:
In "The Nature of Monsters," Clark again shows an impressive ability to combine historical accuracy with vivid language and a strong plot, confirming her claim to a place in historical city-lit by returning to London for a tale of mystery, skulduggery and (in what seems set to become a hallmark of her work) intensely described physical sensation--As a storyteller, Clark is endowed with verve and intelligence, but her larger gift, dazzlingly in evidence throughout both her fine novels, lies in the originality of her imagination. She gives us a world that feels alive and intense, magnificently raw.
Furthermore, James Macgowan profiled Clare Clark for the Ottawa Citizen on Sunday:
Clark, who just turned 40, studied history at Cambridge, and must have taken her studying seriously, for she doesn't just describe life in 1719 London, she reconstructs it, smelly detail by smelly detail, until the dirt, the odour, and the brutish streets lift themselves off the page and practically squat down next to you.
And Joseph at The Book Design Review Blog has posted about the terrific cover design for the book!
Here's a quick summary, of recent reviews and interviews:
The Guardian (United Kingdom)
St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
The Winnipeg Free Press
The Jane Day Reader (this review also ran in The Winnipeg Free Press review)