PRAISE FOR Orchid of the Night (reader’s comments)
I’m writing to thank you for sending us a copy of your newest novel, Orchid of the Night, to be displayed at the Celebration of Life for Stuart Timmons. We admire and appreciate your steadfast support of both ONE and Lambda Literary; and wish you all the best for your entry into the 2018 Lambda Literary Awards. We are also honored to have your copy of Walking Fish among our collection, which has grown to about 3-4 million pieces (we are due to have an appraisal soon!) Our celebration for Stuart Timmons’ life was both vibrant, touching, well-attended, and emotional. Thank you again for providing your book for display.
Shirley Shirley Kawafuchi , Operations Assistant ONE Archives Foundation
Connie Harrington June 1, 2017
J.S. Bodin is a master storyteller, and nowhere is that more evident than in her latest novel, Orchid of the Night. The book can be enjoyed on many levels. On the surface, Bodin gives us a psychological thriller packed with fascinating characters moving about on a stage filled with murder, sex, and unexpected plot lines that capture the reader’s attention from start to finish. But on a deeper level, Bodin’s characters are well-developed and evocative, their motives complex. The plot twists are well-crafted and uniquely imaginative. Bodin draws the reader close with her mastery of dialogue, and then paints the broader view using backdrops of varied geographical landscapes alongside the deeper, psychological landscapes of mysticism. Orchid of the Night is a book worth reading twice!
Irene Aguilera February 16, 2017
Orchid of the Night is a page turning psychological thriller you won’t want to put down. Bodin’s tale draws the reader into the confused and damaged world of Kyle O’Sullivan and his alias Tom Tanner, who struggles to keep pace with his own lies. Along the way the reader is treated to a fascinating primer on orchids, a taste of Native American history, and an rare glimpse into a gay sanctuary set in the Southwest. From Maui to Arizona this story will entertain and enlighten
Roberta Parry July 9, 2017
Though ORCHID OF THE NIGHT didn’t quite qualify for me as a “thriller” (I’m a Jo Nesbo fan) I found it enjoyable and engaging. As another reviewer commented, there wasn’t for me much mystery as I knew who the villain was and was watching throughout for his appearance. And spotted him as soon as he made his entrance. What was engaging for me was Bodin’s cast of characters, all fresh, unusual, and well drawn. And I particularly enjoyed her description of the gay commune in the Arizona desert and her portrayal of its inhabitants. Excellently and sensitively done, plus with a touch of warmth and humor. The involvement of Detective Andy Gomez added a good new line. I previously read WALKING FISH. I am now also a Bodin fan.
Jean B. Shannon March 9, 2017
Orchid of the Night is a skillfully and beautifully crafted novel by an author who obviously cares about what her characters experience as they navigate shadow and light, reality and illusion, and who pulls the reader deeply into those experiences. No small part of the novel’s appeal for me are the lyrical passages that flow seamlessly through the narrative thread. This is a novel written with a poet’s sensibility and a serious researcher’s attention to detail.
BOOK REVIEWS AND PRAISE FOR Walking Fish: a novel and Piggybacked: poetry
BOOK REVIEW: FOREWARD MAGAZINE
February 23, 2011
WALKING FISH: A NOVEL Genre: Fiction
Author: Joanne Bodin
On the surface, Walking Fish is the story of a woman’s journey to reconnect with her estranged daughter. The novel focuses heavily on the universal experience of loss as the reader is shown glimpses into the lives of characters with beleaguered pasts. Bodin’s protagonist, Talia, dreams of the walking fish, an image that well represents the book’s characters, all of whom find themselves in situations where the need to adapt to new environments is crucial to their development. When Talia discovers that an erstwhile acquaintance may be the biological grandfather of her longtime partner’s grandson, she must choose to put their interests before her own and confront memories of circumstances that led to her being labeled an unfit mother. Walking Fish could have easily taken a turn for the histrionic, but Bodin manages to avert the melodrama that saturates films dealing with like subjects. As the knowing Talia reflects on her life, “It all seemed so insidious, so melodramatic, like an episode out of a daytime television soap opera,” so Bodin does not fall prey to the allure of sensationalism.
This accessible novel will engage a general audience, but Baby Boomers may find themselves more adept in reading between the lines. Bodin’s academic backgrounds in philosophy and education shine through as the text proves even more fulfilling for the existential questions it raises than for the story itself. The author addresses many modern issues, including psychological labeling. When a character who’s a college student explains that she has autism and obsessive compulsive disorder, the reader is privy to a truly contemporary response by the aforementioned young man: “OCD. She has OCD just like me.” Here Bodin raises the correlation between labeling and identity formation, asking the reader to question many aspects of our society, which further adds to the richness of the text. The notion of a walking fish is a call to action for characters that need to generate major change in their lives. Coping with loss allows the novel’s characters to achieve personal growth as they learn to accept their situations. What remains is the choice to adapt.
Mark Danowski, Foreword Magazine 2/23/11
July 5, 2012
Reviewed by Stephanie D. for Readers Favorite
“Walking Fish” by Joanne Bodin is gritty yet touching contemporary fiction. Artist Talia, a nonconformist by any standards, has had a difficult life. Losing custody of her daughter Sophie when she was five following an unpleasant divorce, Talia has been shut out of her child’s life. The reason – Talia is gay. She has since found happiness with her partner Renie and expression in her art but her heart aches for her daughter. A family crisis erupts involving Renie’s grandson Joshua. He is a talented musician sadly suffering from manic depression and suddenly Talia realizes that she thinks she knows why. She knew a man twenty years ago very like Joshua. Could there be a connection? In investigating this possible link, Talia has to dig up elements of her own past which prove to be both painful but cathartic. Helping to confront Renie’s family problems helps her finally deal with her own. This is a very interesting, complex, challenging story. But it is not difficult to read. The author has an easy, flowing style that belies the sometimes difficult content. Talia is a sympathetic character whose choices we might find unconventional but we respect that she had and still has the courage to make them. The walking fish analogy comes from the fact that people need to adapt to survive as Talia has done. She has had to move out of the natural element for most other women of conventional family life to find her own way of living. It is ultimately a very inspiring book.
“I savored the complex and surprising inter-relationships of these families, each unusual (but believable), as the characters, risking the dangers of change and the necessity of testing experiences, move out of their native elements to find ultimately satisfying resolutions where doors are open into the new and unfamiliar.”
– Phyllis Hoge Thompson, poet, and author of The Painted Clock: Memoirs Of A New Mexico Ghost Town Bride.
“Joanne Bodin’s tale of a woman reinventing herself and taking charge of her life is a balm for the soul.”
– Sean Murphy, author of The Hope Valley Hubcap King and The Time of New Weather. www.murphyzen.com.
Piggybacked is a collection of poems that evokes universal experiences of beauty, pain, suffering, longing, joy, mirth, dreams, and nightmares, allowing the reader a glimpse into the unorthodox world view of the poet. With thought-provoking imagery, these poems delve into the paradoxes of our own human existence. The inspiration for this book came from the author’s relationship with her late grandfather, also a poet, and their individual quests for freedom. The title of the book is an expression of ancestral ties that bind us through the generations.
Joanne Bodin’s collection, Piggybacked, is a lyrical trove of poems that move from her earliest memories to the present, and end with an interesting selection of poems by her long-deceased grandfather, translated from the Yiddish. This is a poetry of connection. Bodin remembers her origins in line such as “I am from a place near the ocean where foghorns warn of approaching planes,” and “a wedding cake hunger drives through me like a nail, coating the years with iced stickiness and indulgent bulges.” Six splash ink drawings by the author enhance the book. A new poetic voice worth reading.
Margaret Randall, author of Ruins and As if the Empty Chair/Como si la silla vacia, among other titles.
In Piggybacked, Joanne Bodin expresses the world views of herself and her Russian Jewish grandfather through the poetry of both. Dreams, realized and forgotten, help the reader understand how universal is the desire to feel free, and how diverse the paths we each take to reach our own “distant shore.”
Karin Bradberry, Winner of Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards (2009) for her poem entitled, “Javelina,” editor of Albuquerque’s monthly poetry broadsheet, The Rag.