Monday, April 22, 2019

Pg. 99: Greg Beckett's "There Is No More Haiti"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: There Is No More Haiti: Between Life and Death in Port-au-Prince by Greg Beckett.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is not just another book about crisis in Haiti. This book is about what it feels like to live and die with a crisis that never seems to end. It is about the experience of living amid the ruins of ecological devastation, economic collapse, political upheaval, violence, and humanitarian disaster. It is about how catastrophic events and political and economic forces shape the most intimate aspects of everyday life. In this gripping account, anthropologist Greg Beckett offers a stunning ethnographic portrait of ordinary people struggling to survive in Port-au-Prince in the twenty-first century. Drawing on over a decade of research, There Is No More Haiti builds on stories of death and rebirth to powerfully reframe the narrative of a country in crisis. It is essential reading for anyone interested in Haiti today.
Learn more about There Is No More Haiti at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: There Is No More Haiti.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Five top books about plagues and pandemics

Claudia Gray is the New York Times bestselling author of many science fiction and paranormal fantasy books for young adults, including the Defy the Stars series, the Firebird series, the Evernight series, the Spellcaster series, and Fateful.

At she tagged five essential books about plagues and pandemics, including:
The Stand by Stephen King

Other epic plague stories have been written; by now Stephen King’s bibliography must be nearly as long as one of his novels. Yet I don’t think any fictional plague has ever horrified and fascinated more people than Captain Trips, and at least for me, The Stand may be King’s single greatest work.

In the first scene, a young guard violates quarantine protocol to escape from a military facility with his family. He thinks he can outrun the deadly biological weapon that’s been accidentally unleashed—but instead sets into motion a chain of infections that claims approximately 97% of the world’s population. King’s vision for the devolution of society—from fear to barbarity to silence—is as chilling as it is convincing. As for his descriptions of Captain Trips, aka Tubeneck … I have yet to meet one person who’s read The Stand who didn’t spend the first quarter of the book convinced they were catching a cold.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Stand is among Michelle Tea's top ten books about the apocalypse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Katy Loutzenhiser's "If You're Out There"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: If You're Out There by Katy Loutzenhiser.

About the book, from the publisher:
Part whip-smart suspense tale, part touching story of friendship, this is an extraordinary debut about a determined teen trying to solve a mystery no one else believes in.

After Zan’s best friend moves to California, she is baffled and crushed when Priya suddenly ghosts. Worse, Priya’s social media has turned into a stream of ungrammatical posts chronicling a sunny, vapid new life that doesn’t sound like her at all.

Everyone tells Zan not to be an idiot: Let Priya do her reinvention thing and move on. But until Zan hears Priya say it, she won’t be able to admit that their friendship is finished.

It’s only when she meets Logan, the compelling new guy in Spanish class, that Zan begins to open up about her sadness, her insecurity, her sense of total betrayal. And he’s just as willing as she is to throw himself into the investigation when everyone else thinks her suspicions are crazy.

Then a clue hidden in Priya’s latest selfie introduces a new, deeply disturbing possibility:

Maybe Priya isn’t just not answering Zan’s emails.

Maybe she can’t.
Visit Katy Loutzenhiser's website.

My Book, The Movie: If You're Out There.

Writers Read: Katy Loutzenhiser.

The Page 69 Test: If You're Out There.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top novels for the literate oenophile

Jay McInerney's books include the novels Precious Days, Bright Lights, Big City, Model Behavior and The Good Life, which received the Grand Prix Littéraire. His short story collection How It Ended was named one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Times. He is the editor of Wine Reads: A Literary Anthology of Wine Writing.

At LitHub he tagged eight novels for the literate oenophile, including:
Michael Dibden, A Long Finish

Dibden was an English novelist who took up residence in Italy and wrote a series of literate mysteries, starring a wine-loving detective named Aurelio Zen, including A Long Finish, set in Piedmont, the home of truffles, Barolo and Barbaresco.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 20, 2019

What is M. G. Wheaton reading?

Featured at Writers Read: M. G. Wheaton, author of Emily Eternal.

His entry begins:
Right now, I’m reading about five books at once: one on audio, two on the Kindle, and two physical books which is about average for me depending on if I’m in the car, working out, or in a theater somewhere waiting for the curtain to rise.

On Kindle, I’m reading Ahmed Saadawi’s novel, Frankenstein in Baghdad, and Tony Healey’s The Singles, a collection of short stories and novellas. Frankenstein in Baghdad takes place during the US occupation of Iraq and focuses on the aftermath of a sectarian bombing. One of the nameless people blown to bits is reassembled by a junk dealer but before long, heads out into the city again with...[read on]
About Emily Eternal, from the publisher:
Meet Emily, “the best AI character since HAL 9000″ (Blake Crouch). She can solve advanced mathematical problems, unlock the mind’s deepest secrets, but unfortunately, even she can’t restart the sun.

Emily is an artificial consciousness, designed in a lab to help humans process trauma, which is particularly helpful when the sun begins to die 5 billion years before scientists agreed it was supposed to.

Her beloved human race is screwed, and so is Emily. That is, until she finds a potential answer buried deep in the human genome that may save them all. But not everyone is convinced Emily has the best solution–or the best intentions. Before her theory can be tested, the lab is brutally attacked, and Emily’s servers are taken hostage.

Narrowly escaping, Emily is forced to go on the run with two human companions–college student Jason and small-town Sheriff, Mayra. As the sun’s death draws near, Emily and her friends must race against time to save humanity. Soon it becomes clear not just the species is at stake, but also that which makes us most human.
Visit Mark Wheaton's website.

Writers Read: M. G. Wheaton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Nicholas Walton's "Singapore, Singapura"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Singapore, Singapura: From Miracle to Complacency by Nicholas Walton.

About the book, from the publisher:
Modern Singapore is a miracle. Half a century ago it unwillingly became an independent nation, after it was thrown out of the Malay Federation. It was tiny, poor, almost devoid of resources, and in a hostile neighborhood. Now, this unlikely country is at the top of almost every global national index, from high wealth and low crime to superb education and much-envied stability. But have these achievements bred a dangerous sense of complacency among Singapore's people?

Nicholas Walton walked across the entire country in one day, to grasp what it was that made Singapore tick, and to understand the challenges that it now faces. Singapore, Singapura teases out the island's story, from mercantilist Raffles and British colonial rule, through the war years, to independence and the building of the current miracle.

There are challenges ahead, from public complacency and the constraints of authoritarian democracy to changing geographic realities and the difficulties of balancing migration in such a tiny state. Singapore's second half-century will be just as exacting as the one since independence--as Walton warns, talk of a "Singapore model" for our hyper-globalized world must face these realities.
Visit Nicholas Walton's website.

The Page 99 Test: Singapore, Singapura.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six unforgettable fictional murder scenes

Jane Haseldine's newest novel is You Fit the Pattern.

At CrimeReads she tagged six unforgettable fictional murder scenes, including:
A Tap on the Window, Linwood Barclay

I get downright giddy when I know a new Linwood Barclay book is about to come out. And Barclay, the king of writing the everyday Joe lead who is put into nail-biting situations, creates one of my favorite reoccurring characters, Cal Weaver, in this gem of a mystery. Cal is mourning the recent death of his teenage son, Scott, who fell off a building to his death while high on ecstasy. Searching for answers, Cal picks up a hitchhiker who was a former classmate of Scott’s, and the private investigator’s already upended life takes another sinister turn. Cal gets put through the ringer in this story as a murder suspect, a grieving parent, and not to mention having to wrangle with a bunch of crooked cops. I was totally rooting for Cal in this book, so a surprise murder at the end left me feeling like I wanted to give the poor guy a hug.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 19, 2019

Todd Strasser's "Summer of '69," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Summer of '69 by Todd Strasser.

The entry begins:
Like most people I love movies and good television, but in the nearly fifty years that I’ve been writing novels, I’ve never thought about what actors might play my characters. So this is sort of new to me.

Looking at contemporary actors for Summer of ’69 with the understanding that they’d be required to spend a fair amount of time acting -- or just plain being -- stoned, I think Ryan Gosling would be a good choice for the main character Lucas.

For his two close friends I’d choose Paul Dano for Milton, and...[read on]
Visit Todd Strasser's website.

My Book, The Movie: Summer of '69.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six novels about nonconformist women

Lissa Evans has written books for both adults and children, including Their Finest Hour and a Half, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Crooked Heart was also longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize); it is her first novel to be published in the US. Evans lives in London with her family.

At LitHub she tagged six novels from other eras that "feature women (and in one case a small girl) from other eras who don’t do what they’re supposed to do," including:
The Shipping News, Annie Proulx

Agnis Hamm, known throughout most of the book as The Aunt, is not the main character in this novel, but instead the steady sidekick, the battery that drives the plot. Born into poverty in Newfoundland and suffering an unspeakable childhood, she has carved out a life in which she has made all her own choices, finding both a skilled career and true love. When her adored partner dies, The Aunt decides to return to the place where she spent her childhood, taking her nephew and his broken family with her. She is dry, fierce and magnificent, and is one of my favourite characters in 20th century fiction.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Shipping News appears on David Vann's six favorite books list, Rachel Seiffert's top ten list of books about troubled families, RJ Ellory's five best list of human dramas, Elise Valmorbida's list of top ten books with a happy ending, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best fishing trips.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Alafair Burke's "The Better Sister"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Better Sister: A Novel by Alafair Burke.

About the book, from the publisher:
From Alafair Burke—New York Times bestselling author of the runaway hit, The Wife—comes another twisty tale of domestic noir. When a prominent Manhattan lawyer is murdered, two estranged sisters—one the dead man’s widow, the other his ex—must set aside mistrust and old resentments ... but can they escape their past?

Though Chloe was the younger of the two Taylor sisters, she always seemed to be in charge. She was the honor roll student with big dreams and an even bigger work ethic. Nicky was always restless . . . and more than a little reckless—the opposite of her ambitious little sister. She floated from job to job and man to man, and stayed close to home in Cleveland.

For a while, it seemed like both sisters had found happiness. Chloe earned a scholarship to an Ivy League school and moved to New York City, where she landed a coveted publishing job. Nicky married promising young attorney Adam Macintosh, and gave birth to a baby boy they named Ethan. The Taylor sisters became virtual strangers.

Now, more than fifteen years later, their lives are drastically different—and Chloe is married to Adam. When he’s murdered by an intruder at the couple’s East Hampton beach house, Chloe reluctantly allows her teenaged stepson’s biological mother—her estranged sister, Nicky—back into her life. But when the police begin to treat Ethan as a suspect in his father’s death, the two sisters are forced to unite . . . and to confront the truth behind family secrets they have tried to bury in the past.
Visit Alafair Burke's website.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Connection.

The Page 69 Test: Angel’s Tip.

The Page 69 Test: 212.

The Page 69 Test: All Day and a Night.

The Page 69 Test: The Ex.

The Page 69 Test: The Wife.

The Page 69 Test: The Better Sister.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Ten top books to inspire graduates

At B&N Reads the editors tagged ten books to inspire graduates, including:
Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination, by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Joel Holland

Very Good Lives is an illustrated version of J.K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard University commencement speech, in which she spoke less about success and more about failure: “Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.” She also dwells on the importance of imagination, and of taking responsibility for your own actions. This is a great book for graduates, and a great book for almost anyone else, too.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Virginia Morell's "Becoming a Marine Biologist"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Becoming a Marine Biologist (Masters at Work) by Virginia Morell.

About the book, from the publisher:
A fascinating guide to a career in marine biology written by bestselling journalist Virginia Morell and based on the real-life experiences of an expert in the field—essential reading for someone considering a path to this profession.

For the last two decades, Dr. Robin Baird has spent two months out of each year aboard a twenty-four-foot Zodiac boat in the waters off the big island of Hawai'i, researching the twenty-five species of whales and dolphins that live in the Pacific Ocean. His life may seem an impossible dream—but his career path from being the first person in his family to graduate college to becoming the leading expert on some of Hawai'i's marine mammals was full of twists and turns.

Join Baird aboard his Zodiac for a candid look at the realities of life as a research scientist, from the ever-present struggles to secure grants and publish new data, to the joys of helping to protect the ocean and its inhabitants. You’ll also learn pro tips, like the unexpected upsides to not majoring in marine biology and the usefulness of hobbies like sailing, birdwatching, photography, and archery. (You’ll need good aim to tag animals with the tiny recording devices that track their movements.)

Becoming a Marine Biologist is an essential guide for anyone looking to turn a passion for the natural world into a career. This is the most valuable informational interview you’ll have—required reading for anyone considering this challenging yet rewarding path.
Learn more about Becoming a Marine Biologist.

Coffee with a Canine: Virginia Morell and Buckaroo.

The Page 99 Test: Becoming a Marine Biologist.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Katy Loutzenhiser reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Katy Loutzenhiser, author of If You're Out There.

Her entry begins:
Though my own work doesn't quite fall under the "rom-com" category (my debut, If You're Out There, can best be described as a friendship-themed mystery/comedy with a dash of romance), my reading is heavy on the light and fluffy. A recent favorite was the debut YA novel Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan (out April 30). It follows a girl's romantic trials and tribulations during her summer job dressed as a hot dog. Honestly, the story had me at hot dog, and it did not disappoint! I also...[read on]
About If You're Out There, from the publisher:
Part whip-smart suspense tale, part touching story of friendship, this is an extraordinary debut about a determined teen trying to solve a mystery no one else believes in.

After Zan’s best friend moves to California, she is baffled and crushed when Priya suddenly ghosts. Worse, Priya’s social media has turned into a stream of ungrammatical posts chronicling a sunny, vapid new life that doesn’t sound like her at all.

Everyone tells Zan not to be an idiot: Let Priya do her reinvention thing and move on. But until Zan hears Priya say it, she won’t be able to admit that their friendship is finished.

It’s only when she meets Logan, the compelling new guy in Spanish class, that Zan begins to open up about her sadness, her insecurity, her sense of total betrayal. And he’s just as willing as she is to throw himself into the investigation when everyone else thinks her suspicions are crazy.

Then a clue hidden in Priya’s latest selfie introduces a new, deeply disturbing possibility:

Maybe Priya isn’t just not answering Zan’s emails.

Maybe she can’t.
Visit Katy Loutzenhiser's website.

My Book, The Movie: If You're Out There.

Writers Read: Katy Loutzenhiser.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top thrillers centered on psychology

Heather Gudenkauf's new novel is Before She Was Found.

At CrimeReads she tagged "ten masterfully told works of psychological suspense, featuring protagonists with exceptional psychological characteristics," including:
“I shut my eyes and try to sleep, but I’ve played this game before, and sleep has no intention of coming, not anytime soon. Sleep is perverse that way, abandoning you just when you need it most.”

Dedicated psychiatrist Dr. Zoe Goldman uses her talents and expertise to help her patients who contend with severe mental illness. Zoe has her own challenges to face—ADHD, a disorder that impacts both her personal and professional lives, a myriad of questions about her past and disjointed memories of a fire that destroyed her family. The first novel in a series that features Zoe, Little Black Lies gives us a protagonist who is relatable, determined and thoroughly endearing. Nightmares plague Zoe and as she tries to understand their origins she comes to realize that a very real and deadly danger is close at hand. Block continues Zoe’s story with two more novels: The Girl Without a Name and The Secret Room.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Pg. 69: Anne Hillerman's "The Tale Teller"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Tale Teller: A Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito Novel by Anne Hillerman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Legendary Navajo policeman Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn takes center stage in this riveting atmospheric mystery from New York Times bestselling author Anne Hillerman that combines crime, superstition, and tradition and brings the desert Southwest vividly alive.

Joe Leaphorn may have retired from the Tribal Police, but he finds himself knee-deep in a perplexing case involving a priceless artifact—a reminder of a dark time in Navajo history. Joe’s been hired to find a missing biil, a traditional dress that had been donated to the Navajo Nation. His investigation takes a sinister turn when the leading suspect dies under mysterious circumstances and Leaphorn himself receives anonymous warnings to beware—witchcraft is afoot.

While the veteran detective is busy working to untangle his strange case, his former colleague Jim Chee and Officer Bernie Manuelito are collecting evidence they hope will lead to a cunning criminal behind a rash of burglaries. Their case takes a complicated turn when Bernie finds a body near a popular running trail. The situation grows more complicated when the death is ruled a homicide, and the Tribal cops are thrust into a turf battle because the murder involves the FBI.

As Leaphorn, Chee, and Bernie draw closer to solving these crimes, their parallel investigations begin to merge ... and offer an unexpected opportunity that opens a new chapter in Bernie’s life.
Learn more about the book and author at Anne Hillerman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Spider Woman's Daughter.

The Page 69 Test: Spider Woman's Daughter.

The Page 69 Test: Song of the Lion.

The Page 69 Test: The Tale Teller.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten bilingual books

Yara Rodrigues Fowler's first novel, Stubborn Archivist, is out now in the UK and forthcoming (July 2019) in the USA.

One of her ten favorite tales told in multiple languages, as shared at the Guardian:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I know, I know, we’ve all already read this book, but it’s too good not to be on here. And, interestingly, although Adichie uses Ibgo in her earlier novels Purple Hibiscus and Half a Yellow Sun, Americanah is the first one where she does not translate. (To readers who can’t read Igbo, Adichie suggests Google). Even the title is kind of bilingualism, holding a specific meaning to Nigerian readers.
Read about another entry on the list.

Americanah is among Greta Gerwig's ten favorite books and Nada Awar Jarrar's ten favorite books about exile.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Michael J. Sullivan's "Earned Citizenship"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Earned Citizenship by Michael J. Sullivan.

About the book, from the publisher:
The migration and settlement of 11 million unauthorized immigrants is among the leading political challenges facing the United States today. The majority of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. have been here for more than five years, and are settling into American communities, working, forming families, and serving in the military, even though they may be detained and deported if they are discovered. An open question remains as to what to do about unauthorized immigrants who are already living in the United States. On one hand it is important that the government sends a message that future violations of immigration law will not be tolerated. On the other sits a deeper ethical dilemma that is the focus of this book: what do the state and citizens owe to unauthorized immigrants who have served their adopted country?

Earned Citizenship argues that long-term unauthorized immigrant residents should be able to earn legalization and a pathway to citizenship through service in their adopted communities. Their service would act as restitution for immigration law violations. Military service in particular would merit naturalization in countries with a strong citizen-soldier tradition, including the United States. The book also considers the civic value of caregiving as a service to citizens and the country, contending that family immigration policies should be expanded to recognize the importance of caregiving duties for dependents. This argument is part of a broader project in political theory and public policy aimed at reconciling civic republicanism with a feminist ethic of care, and its emphasis on dependency work. As a whole, Earned Citizenship provides a non-humanitarian justification for legalizing unauthorized immigrants based on their contributions to citizens and institutions in their adopted nation.
Learn more about Earned Citizenship at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Earned Citizenship.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top legal fiction / domestic suspense hybrids

Alafair Burke's new novel is The Better Sister.

At CrimeReads she tagged six "favorite novels that [she] also consider[s] to be hybrids between legal fiction and domestic suspense," including:
Defending Jacob by William Landay

This story of a father who leaves his job as a prosecutor to defend his troubled teenage son accused of murder has all the legal heft and realism of a novel written by a former prosecutor, as Landay is. But it tells a lawyer’s story from an intensely personal perspective. It’s as much about family, loyalty, and community as it is about the American legal system. It’s also a riveting thriller.
Read about another entry on the list.

Defending Jacob is among Kate Moretti's eight suspense novels that explore nurture vs. nature and Nicholas Sparks' six top books about family.

The Page 69 Test: Defending Jacob.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Pg. 69: August Norman's "Come and Get Me"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Come and Get Me by August Norman.

About the book, from the publisher:
At Indiana University, someone’s been studying the female student body: their dating customs, nocturnal activities—and how long they can survive in captivity.

When award-winning journalist Caitlin Bergman is invited back to campus to receive an honorary degree, she finds an opportunity for a well-earned victory lap—and a chance to face the trauma that almost destroyed her as an undergrad. But her lap becomes an all-out race when a student begs her to probe an unsolved campus disappearance: Angela Chapman went out one Friday night and never came back.

To find the missing woman, Caitlin must join forces with a local police detective and the department that botched her own case so long ago. But while Caitlin follows the clues behind Angela’s disappearance, someone else is following her…

Unearthing secrets hidden beneath an idyllic Midwestern college town, Caitlin must expose what really happened to Angela—before she herself becomes the newest addition to a twisted collection.
Visit August Norman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Come and Get Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Rodrigo Rey Rosa reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Rodrigo Rey Rosa, author of Chaos, A Fable.

His entry begins:
When I write fiction—as I am doing now—my reading tends to be more scattered than usual. My general rule is not to read fiction when I’m writing. I read poetry, art history, newspapers and magazines, books on philosophy, anthropology, jurisprudence, but no fiction at all. If I were to read fiction, I’d probably look for something by John Le Carré that I haven’t read. Or Henry James or Patricia Highsmith. But so far this year, I can honestly say that I haven’t read a single page of fiction. The last novel I started (and abandoned on December 31, 2018) was South Wind by Norman Douglas. I hope to finish reading it someday.

In recent months I’ve read essays by Giorgio Agamben on the art of desecration. Also: Creation and Anarchy: The Work of Art and the Religion of Capitalism. Even in the parts I...[read on]
About Chaos, A Fable, from the publisher:
A breathtaking novella about faith and anarchy by the acclaimed and prizewinning Latin American writer Rodrigo Rey Rosa.

Mexican author Rubirosa is attending a book fair in Tangier when he reconnects with an old acquaintance, a Moroccan artist who asks one favor of his visiting friend: to access the puzzling files on a memory card. It could help fulfill the destiny of his son Abdelkrim. It could also unwittingly draw both men into irreversible events already in motion on distant shores.

In America, Abdelkrim, a brilliant aspiring astronaut deemed “too Muslim” for citizenship, has teamed up with an equally gifted young prodigy, a witness to the plight of Syrian refugees. Together, the foreign students share a vision of altering the world’s geopolitical landscape to end human suffering with a nearly inconceivable blueprint. And they can turn theory to reality. They can bring about change. But only through a technological apocalypse can there be redemption—by unleashing total chaos.

A provocative morality tale that moves with the visceral rhythms of a high-tech thriller, Chaos, A Fable is a spare and stunning triumph from one of the most celebrated Latin American authors of his generation.
Learn more about Chaos, A Fable.

Writers Read: Rodrigo Rey Rosa.

--Marshal Zeringue

Dave Patterson's "Soon the Light Will Be Perfect," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Soon the Light Will Be Perfect by Dave Patterson.

The entry begins:
Let’s get weird. Imagine you could take the virtuoso skill set of Philip Seymour Hoffman with a dash of John C. Reilly and cram it all inside a twelve year old actor. That would be the dream for the lead role. This would allow for a striking gravitas, a deep humanity, and a disarming sense of humor for the lead. I imagine this movie demanding understated performances. There’s a menacing undercurrent to the life of this family that could be ruined by over-the-top performances. My hybrid Philip Seymour Hoffman/John C. Reilly clone would nail the nuanced darkness creeping in at the edges of the child lead.

For the parents, I’d love, love, love to see thirty-something versions of Frances McDormand and Gary Sinise as the mother and father. It just blew my mind a little to envision their performances in the roles of a sick-with-cancer mother and an out-of-work father. They would bring a fire to this family on the brink of collapse.

The dream director to guide my...[read on]
Visit Dave Patterson's website.

My Book, The Movie: Soon the Light Will Be Perfect.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books centered on women in space

Michelle Anne Schingler, a former librarian and Hebrew school teacher, is the managing editor at Foreword Reviews. At BookRiot she tagged five books about the universe and women’s roles in its mapping, including:
In Meg Howrey’s The Wanderers, the privately funded Prime Space is planning the first human mission to Mars, and famed astronauts Helen, Yoshi, and Sergei have been tapped to “man” it. That verbiage itself goes to the heart of many of the dilemmas that the crew, and their families, face in the year-plus during which they simulate the journey, ostensibly in the Utah desert. Helen is a riveting lead, both for the mission and in the book; relegated to the role of a cold careerwoman in her life, thanks on no small part to her older novelist husband (who is dead by the time the novel opens, but whose gaslighting still comes through in his wife and daughter’s accounts of their lives), she struggles with what it means to be the first person to do anything and still be made to feel inadequate. Her daughter, an actress, also flails against her mother’s vastly more impressive legacy; and Yoshi’s wife has her own entanglements with what’s considered proper womanhood. On and off of Prime Space’s (simulated?) craft, there’s reckoning aplenty with assigned roles, conscripted spaces, restricted expressions, and the very question of what’s real. “Did they or didn’t they?” is the question that will linger.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue