Author du Jour: Marcia Clark

Moral-Defense-Clark-smallMoral Defense” by Marcia Clark

(Thomas & Mercer, pp 460, $24.95)

Let me start with this month’s most unlikely candidate. Someone who has been in the news twenty or so years ago during the infamous O. J. trial. I am referring to Marcia Clark. Her new book, “Moral Defense,” is a novel. Yes, you have read loud and clear. A crime novel to be precise, which is by the way not her first one. “Moral Defense,” is a sequel to “Blood Defense” (soon to be a TV series).  Of course, probably like most people, you did not know that Clark also wrote crime fiction. After all, she gained fame for being the prosecutor of one of the most controversial murders in our history, something which cannot be easy to shake off, especially if you intend to reinvent yourself.

But in defense of Clark, she reads like a seasoned pro. “Moral Defense” follows the criminal defense attorney, Samantha Brinkman, who represents a teenager, whose family has been brutally murdered. The more Samantha puts her case together, the more she discovers that her narrative thread does not align. If everyone has been murdered, how come her client has survived? . . . Beyond the plot, ultimately, what makes a thriller stand above the fray is not the clever complexity of twists and turns, but the moral questions the main character confronts. And there Clark’s experience and honesty triumph.

Author du Jour: Larry Atkins

Skewed-atkins-smallSkewed: A Critical Thinker’s Guide to Media Bias,” by Larry Atkins

(Prometheus Books, pp 280, $24.00)

I am not sure how many people have read this book so far . . . But given what we now know about the Presidential elections fiasco, meant here as the shocking Trump’s victory, “Skewed,” should have been a must-read for all political parties and media outlets involved. That no polls had predicted the baffling result only makes Atkins’ point more trenchant. The fact that we had never seen such political polarization and dismissal of facts, makes “Skewed,” an even more essential read.

Skewed,” is a history of media, an analysis of the current situation of the landscape, and a courageous attempt of explain why advocacy journalism has only grown in its domination of opinions in newspapers, talk radio, news network, and the internet. The keyword here is ‘biases,’ which only leave listeners and readers stranded in competing and conflicting worldviews, where truth is often only a matter of opinions. Agenda driven, selective used of data, have resulted in a bipolar landscape, which, as we have witnessed, fails to hear those without voices. An insightful book to lift up the one-sided blindness of our time.

Author du Jour: Anne Korkeakivi

Korkeakivi.ShiningSea-smallShining Sea,” by Anne Korkeakivi

(Little, Brown and Company, pp 282, $ 26.00)

Sophomore novels have the reputation to be always the hardest one to produce, especially if the breaking-out novel was a success or generated buzzing reviews. Self-pressure being often the cause as the challenge to recapture the lengthy feat, embedded in the first published novel, is insurmountable for authors. It is not the case for “Shining Sea.” Though not a fan of multi-generational novel, I tip my hat to Anne Korkeakivi’s second novel. Recapturing she managed indeed, and with verve and energy. Recapturing here acts a crucial word, since I was reminded at once, and not to a detriment, to Woolf’s obvious “To the Lighthouse,” where the protagonist spends her day looking out the window, but rather at “Moments of Being,” her long essay on the creative process. Something today, we refer to as being present in the moment. By being completely present in an experience, we expose ourselves to possible epiphanies. And the most trivial moments are elevated in “Shining Sea,” Korkeakivi’s use of the present tense going a long way to invite the readers to connect immediately with the emotional plights of her characters.

Written in a sparse, unaffected, style, this family saga takes us straight into the universe of the Gannon’s family. Following the death of Michael Gannon, Barbara, his widow, is left alone with four kids and one still gestating, and must now confront a major readjustment in her life. The time is 1962. Rolling back the clock to post WWII, Korkeakivi displays her true talent in her ability to show how lives cross paths and disperse again in other parts of the country, while keeping all the threads intriguing. Where an amateur’s schema would have lost us, Korkeakivi’s spontaneous prose delivers a thoroughly compelling story of personal struggles in the face of grief, held together by the endless hope for self-renewal.