With the tenor of a thoroughly researched student essay, this insightful book will appeal to fans eager to learn more about...

Muriel Spark

TIME IN HER FICTION

An informed yet dry scholarly essay examining the significance of time in Muriel Spark’s fiction.

Author of 22 novels, award-winning Scottish writer Dame Muriel Spark is perhaps most famous for her work The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961). In this extended essay, Bruno focuses on this and four other novels—Memento Mori (1959), The Girls of Slender Means (1963), The Mandelbaum Gate (1965) and The Driver’s Seat (1970)—as a way of exploring Spark’s fragmented and cyclical approach to time in her fiction. Bruno begins by examining how Spark’s life is mirrored in her fiction, addressing the role of war, religion, thrift and economy, and she then goes on to critically investigate the books themselves. The theme of time is carefully intertwined with that of memory; the manner in which Spark disrupts chronology in her fiction is tackled with aplomb. Bruno also emphasizes Spark’s interest in natural cycles, such as the passing of the seasons, as well as her use of complex time shifts intended to imitate violent disruptions in life. The reluctance to examine Spark’s entire body of work makes for a rather stunted study, although the author succeeds in working methodically through each of the chosen novels, drawing out relevant strands and providing sharp textual analysis. An awkward turn of phrase can sometimes discredit Bruno’s argument, however: “A pattern also exists in the confusion of the modern world. It is for the individual to search for it.” The result is a style both tangled and stuffy. Throughout, the essay can sometimes come across as a reworked graduate dissertation, particularly with regard to its repetitious statements of intent. The dissertation style might not engage a nonacademic readership, although it will certainly appeal to Spark’s dedicated fan base.

With the tenor of a thoroughly researched student essay, this insightful book will appeal to fans eager to learn more about a talented author.

Pub Date: March 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482788297

Page Count: 108

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

NO REMORSE

Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.

Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.

Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0980806601

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Marq Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2012

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With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the...

OUT OF THE SHADOWS

Tragedy turns into triumph in Carlson’s debut novel about a young woman who regains her self-confidence after multiple losses and years of dejection.

Before readers meet 28-year-old Jamie Shire, she has already hit rock bottom. Jobless, she drinks away her days on her best friend’s couch as she wallows in loneliness. Among Jamie’s troubles: Her mother died when she was a child, the only man she ever loved wouldn’t reciprocate, her unborn daughter died, and she continuously feels rejected by her father and brother. After a chance encounter with a wealthy woman at a coffee shop, Jamie accepts a live-in job researching philanthropic causes at Fallow Springs Estate. Reaching out to the house staff and eventually working with Darfur refugees afford Jamie some valuable context for her own pain; she’s able to gain confidence as she learns to stop fearing rejection and start pursuing her dreams. Throughout the novel, the author skillfully creates mood. In the beginning, when Jamie borders on depression, her emotional touchiness and oversensitivity will create an uneasy feeling in readers. But as Jamie slowly regains confidence, readers will also feel increasingly optimistic. Alongside the main character’s emotional struggle is the struggle faced by Darfur refugees, although this plotline doesn’t advance too far; yet details from Jamie’s trip to the refugee camp in Chad—the types of beer served at the aid workers’ bar or a depiction of a young refugee sitting blank-faced and tied to a pole because he might run away—effectively transport readers to faraway places. Jamie’s story will interest readers, but, with a weak ending, the story leaves many unanswered questions. Who is Jamie’s wealthy employer? Does Jamie’s work in Chad help anyone but herself? And what of the conflict Jamie feels between herself and the refugees, between the haves and the have-nots?

With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the destination.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984991808

Page Count: 389

Publisher: First Snow Publishing House

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

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