Saturday, June 15, 2019

What is Bryan Reardon reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Bryan Reardon, author of The Perfect Plan.

His entry begins:
I am a chronic re-reader. Since I started writing professionally (about twelve years ago), I found it harder and harder to read new material. Sometimes I wonder if I am competitive. Or if I'm afraid that other plotlines might influence my own. It might be that I spend hours a day reading, and the joy I used to find in it has become more of a labor.

Over the past year, however, I have been so lucky. My fortune brought me into contact with three amazing authors. Their books have rekindled my desire to read more. And I owe them greatly for that.

First, it was Karen Dionne and her amazing book The Marsh King's Daughter. In her work, I was transported to an entirely new world. Pick this book up, open to the first page, and you won't come up for air until it's over. You will visit a place so close, but so foreign, that you will wonder what...[read on]
About The Perfect Plan, from the publisher:
From New York Times bestselling author Bryan Reardon comes a tense, twisting story about two brothers locked together in a dangerous game—and an unforgettable tale of a family’s dark secrets.

Liam Brennan teeters on the edge. Early one morning, he snaps, kidnapping a young woman who works for Drew Brennan, Liam’s older brother and the upstart candidate in a heated election. This sudden, vicious attack appears to be the beginning of an unthinkable spiral. But when it comes to the Brennan brothers, nothing is what it seems.

To the rest of the world, Liam is the troubled problem child who grew up to be his brother’s enforcer, while Drew has always been the perfect son and a charismatic leader who has his sights set on the governor’s mansion with his charming and beautiful wife, Patsy, by his side.

Now, as Liam tries to stay one step ahead of the authorities and his brother, every passing minute provides a deeper glimpse into the brothers’ past, long hidden behind a picture-perfect suburban veneer. With the threat of the truth surfacing, Liam and Drew are driven toward one final, desperate act…
Follow Bryan Reardon on Facebook and Twitter.

Writers Read: Bryan Reardon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four good "bad dad" memoirs

Andrew G. S. Thurman is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh's MFA program in Creative Nonfiction. He is working on a book about his father. At LitHub he tagged four good Bad Dad memoirs, including:
Frank Conroy, Stop-Time

Michael Chabon refers to Stop-Time as the “great grandaddy” of literary memoir. He’s not quite right—Conroy was just one member of a larger movement legitimizing the artistic merit of nonfiction—but Stop-Time is still a model for young memoirists for a reason.

Between his father’s insanity, his stepfather’s incompetent grifting, and his mother’s ambivalence, Conroy is effectively forced to raise himself. He does so with grace, becoming a charismatic and effortlessly funny young man good at having his back to the wall—which, throughout the narrative, it often is.

By the end of the book, however, we begin to see a sad truth take shape: the comedic tic that defines him is not just a personality trait and storytelling device, but also a coping mechanism for latent trauma. What emerges is a surprisingly bitter ending from a work that otherwise seems to pride itself on being wry and detached.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: John B. Kachuba's "Shapeshifters: A History"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Shapeshifters: A History by John B. Kachuba.

About the book, from the publisher:
There is something about a shapeshifter—a person who can transform into an animal—that captures our imagination; that causes us to want to howl at the moon, or flit through the night like a bat. Werewolves, vampires, demons, and other weird creatures appeal to our animal nature, our “dark side,” our desire to break free of the bonds of society and proper behavior. Real or imaginary, shapeshifters lurk deep in our psyches and remain formidable cultural icons.

The myths, magic, and meaning surrounding shapeshifters are brought vividly to life in John B. Kachuba’s compelling and original cultural history. Rituals in early cultures worldwide seemingly allowed shamans, sorcerers, witches, and wizards to transform at will into animals and back again. Today, there are millions of people who believe that shapeshifters walk among us and may even be world leaders. Featuring a fantastic and ghoulish array of examples from history, literature, film, TV, and computer games, Shapeshifters explores our secret desire to become something other than human.
Visit John B. Kachuba's website.

The Page 99 Test: Shapeshifters: A History.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 14, 2019

Eight top novels dealing with refugees

Michael Niemann's latest Valentin Vermeulen thriller is No Right Way.

At CrimeReads the author tagged eight "novels of displacement, diaspora, and the traumas of exile," including:
The Collaborator of Bethlehem, Matt Rees

The single largest refugee population lives in Palestine. According to the UNHCR, 5.4 million Palestinian refugees are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Administration for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA). The origin of this population has been hotly debated for decades. For years, the official Israeli position was that the Palestinians fled because they were told by Arab governments that they could go back as soon as the Israeli forces were defeated. Historical research after the opening of British and Israeli archives now show that the use of violence, including strategic massacres, and the fear of that violence propelled the vast majority to flee their homes. Matt Reese situates his first Omar Yussef novel in the Dehaisha refugee camp near Bethlehem. Yussef teaches history at an UNWRA school and appalled by the absence of nuance brought about by the morbid effects of decades of occupation. Resistance fighters squeeze off rounds at Israeli positions during the night, the Israeli army responds by destroying roads, buildings and targeted killings. One such killing leads to the arrest of Yussef’s good friend and former student as a collaborator. The evidence gathered by Yussef points into a different direction, but the battle lines have hardened so much that the collaborator is given the death penalty without even a hint of a fair trial. Yussef has but two days to prove his friend’s innocence in a climate where revenge is the popular emotion. Rees draws out the ignominy of Israeli occupation but also highlights the power of Palestinian militias and their not so clean business undertakings. The novel shows what happens when the refugee status becomes permanent without a resolution in sight. It’s a sad combination of resignation and anger. After a bomb goes off in the wee hours in the morning at his school, Yussef, leading a policeman past the destroyed classroom, spells this out, “He’s seen this kind of destruction many times. It doesn’t even concern him that this is his own daughter’s classroom.”
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

My Book, The Movie: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Roselle Lim's "Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim.

About the book, from the publisher:
Lush and visual, chock-full of delicious recipes, Roselle Lim’s magical debut novel is about food, heritage, and finding family in the most unexpected places.

At the news of her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn’t spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco’s Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She’s even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant.

The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant’s fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around—she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along.
Visit Roselle Lim's website.

The Page 69 Test: Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune.

--Marshal Zeringue

Robyn Arianrhod's "Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science by Robyn Arianrhod.

The entry begins:
The long-lost Elizabethan scientific genius Thomas Harriot lived a dramatic and extraordinary life. Arriving in London as a brilliant young Oxford graduate from the wrong side of the tracks, he was soon swept up in the most glamorous of Elizabethan circles. His first boss – who became a lifelong friend – was the brilliant, impetuous Sir Walter Ralegh, favorite of Queen Elizabeth I.

Harriot is a mysterious character, and I have more to say about him. But first, who better to play the larger-than-life Sir Walter than Ioan Grufudd: tall, dark, handsome, and with the beard he sports in the TV series Harrow, he even sort of looks like Ralegh! And for Elizabeth I, the fabulous Fiona Shaw is terrific at playing powerful, morally ambivalent women – need I say more than Killing Eve? Or the legendary...[read on]
Learn more about Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Seduced by Logic.

My Book, The Movie: Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 13, 2019

What is D.B. Jackson reading?

Featured at Writers Read: D.B. Jackson, author of Time’s Demon.

His entry begins:
Last fall, soon after the release of Time’s Children, the first book in my epic fantasy/time travel series, The Islevale Cycle, I wrote a “Writer’s Read” post for this site. At the time, as usual, I was reading a variety of things: novels, short stories, magazines. Like so many writers, I read widely and eclectically. Being a professional writer means as well being a professional reader.

Today, only a week or two removed from the release of Time’s Demon, the second Islevale novel, I could easily write a similar post. I’ve recently read Guy Gavriel Kay’s newest novel, A Brightness Long Ago, so that I could review it for another site. It’s brilliant, as is all of Kay’s work. And, as it happens, I am currently re-reading his Fionavar Tapestry, a favorite of mine from long ago that I return to again and again, like comfort food for the spirit. I have been reading the most recent issue of The New Yorker magazine, savoring articles about...[read on]
About Time’s Demon, from the publisher:
Fifteen year-old Tobias Doljan Walked back in time to prevent a war, but instead found himself trapped in an adult body, his king murdered and with an infant princess, Sofya, to protect. Now he has been joined by fellow Walker and Spanner, Mara, and together they must find a way to undo the timeline which orphaned the princess and destroyed their future. Arrayed against them are assassins who share their time-traveling powers, but have dark ambitions of their own, and the Tirribin demon, Droë, whose desperate quest for human love and Tobias leads her into alliances which threaten all of Islevale.
Learn more about the book and author at D. B. Jackson's website and blog.

D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of a dozen fantasy novels.

The Page 69 Test: Thieftaker.

The Page 69 Test: Time’s Children.

Writers Read: D.B. Jackson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Hannah Roche's "The Outside Thing"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Outside Thing: Modernist Lesbian Romance by Hannah Roche.

About the book, from the publisher:
In a lecture delivered before the University of Oxford’s Anglo-French Society in 1936, Gertrude Stein described romance as “the outside thing, that ... is always a thing to be felt inside.” Hannah Roche takes Stein’s definition as a principle for the reinterpretation of three major modernist lesbian writers, showing how literary and affective romance played a crucial yet overlooked role in the works of Stein, Radclyffe Hall, and Djuna Barnes. The Outside Thing offers original readings of both canonical and peripheral texts, including Stein’s first novel Q.E.D. (Things As They Are), Hall’s Adam’s Breed and The Well of Loneliness, and Barnes’s early writing alongside Nightwood.

Is there an inside space for lesbian writing, or must it always seek refuge elsewhere? Crossing established lines of demarcation between the in and the out, the real and the romantic, and the Victorian and the modernist, The Outside Thing presents romance as a heterosexual plot upon which lesbian writers willfully set up camp. These writers boldly adopted and adapted the romance genre, Roche argues, as a means of staking a queer claim on a heteronormative institution. Refusing to submit or surrender to the “straight” traditions of the romance plot, they turned the rules to their advantage. Drawing upon extensive archival research, The Outside Thing is a significant rethinking of the interconnections between queer writing, lesbian living, and literary modernism.
Learn more about The Outside Thing at the Columbia University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Outside Thing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top houseguests in fiction

Jessica Francis Kane is the author of This Close, The Report, and Bending Heaven. This Close was longlisted for The Story Prize and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize, and The Report was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection and a finalist for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction. Her stories and essays have appeared in a number of publications, including Virginia Quarterly Review, McSweeney’s, The Missouri Review, The Yale Review, A Public Space, and Granta.

Kane's new novel is Rules for Visiting.

At the Guardian she tagged ten notable houseguests in fiction, including:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Austen’s novels are filled with visiting. She wrote in an era when going to stay with family or friends was an established way for an unmarried woman to meet a husband or make herself useful to those who already had them. Thanks to a rainy day, Jane Bennet winds up a sickly houseguest and her sister Elizabeth must come to her rescue – initiating all the celebrated romantic attachments of the story.
Read about another entry on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on O: The Oprah Magazine's twenty greatest ever romance novels, Cristina Merrill's list of eight of the sexiest curmudgeons in romance, Sarah Ward's ten top list of brothers and sisters in fiction, Tara Sonin's lists of fifty must-read regency romances and seven sweet and swoony romances for wedding season, Grant Ginder's top ten list of book characters we love to hate, Katy Guest's list of six of the best depictions of shyness in fiction, Garry Trudeau's six favorite books list, Ross Johnson's list of seven of the greatest rivalries in fiction, Helen Dunmore's six best books list, Jenny Kawecki's list of eight fictional characters who would make the best travel companions, Peter James's top ten list of works of fiction set in or around Brighton, Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, the Telegraph's list of the ten greatest put-downs in literature, Rebecca Jane Stokes' list of ten fictional families you might enjoy more than the one you'll actually spend the holidays with, Melissa Albert's lists of five fictional characters who deserved better, [fifteen of the] romantic leads (and wannabes) of Austen’s brilliant books and recommended reading for eight villains, Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance, Emma Donoghue's list of five favorite unconventional fictional families, Amelia Schonbek's list of five approachable must-read classics, Jane Stokes's top ten list of the hottest men in required reading, Gwyneth Rees's top ten list of books about siblings, the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Paula Byrne's list of the ten best Jane Austen characters, Robert McCrum's list of the top ten opening lines of novels in the English language, a top ten list of literary lessons in love, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families, Cathy Cassidy's top ten list of stories about sisters, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked clerics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best housekeepers in fiction, ten great novels with terrible original titles, and ten of the best visits to Brighton in literature, Luke Leitch's top ten list of the most successful literary sequels ever, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer. Richard Price has never read it, but it is the book Mary Gordon cares most about sharing with her children.

The Page 99 Test: Pride and Prejudice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Becky Masterman's "We Were Killers Once," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: We Were Killers Once: A Thriller (Brigid Quinn Series, Volume 4) by Becky Masterman.

The entry begins:
Despite being purchased last year by a production company, my first book Rage Against the Dying has yet to flicker onto a screen of any size. Since it was published I've fantasized about many an actress to play my aging yet powerful series protagonist, Brigid Quinn. Holly Hunter, Glenn Close, Emma Thompson, and Jamie Lee Curtis are all possibilities. But whenever I speak of the actor to play Brigid's husband Carlo DiForenza, I get disbelieving stares. Okay, so Carlo is an ex-Catholic priest who mildly quotes Bonhoeffer. But why not Jeff...[read on]
Visit Becky Masterman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Rage Against the Dying.

The Page 69 Test: Rage Against the Dying.

My Book, The Movie: Fear the Darkness.

The Page 69 Test: Fear the Darkness.

My Book, The Movie: A Twist of the Knife.

My Book, The Movie: We Were Killers Once.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Lisa Grunwald's "Time After Time"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Time After Time: A Novel by Lisa Grunwald.

About the book, from the publisher:
On a clear December morning in 1937, at the famous gold clock in Grand Central Terminal, Joe Reynolds, a hardworking railroad man from Queens, meets a vibrant young woman who seems mysteriously out of place. Nora Lansing is a Manhattan socialite whose flapper clothing, pearl earrings, and talk of the Roaring Twenties don’t seem to match the bleak mood of Depression-era New York. Captivated by Nora from her first electric touch, Joe despairs when he tries to walk her home and she disappears. Finding her again—and again—will become the focus of his love and his life.

Nora, a fiercely independent aspiring artist, is shocked to find she’s somehow been trapped, her presence in the terminal governed by rules she cannot fathom. It isn’t until she meets Joe that she begins to understand the effect that time is having on her, and the possible connections to the workings of Grand Central and the solar phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge, when the sun rises or sets between the city’s skyscrapers, aligned perfectly with the streets below.

As thousands of visitors pass under the famous celestial blue ceiling each day, Joe and Nora create a life unlike any they could have imagined. With infinite love in a finite space, they take full advantage of the “Terminal City” within a city, dining at the Oyster Bar, visiting the Whispering Gallery, and making a home at the Biltmore Hotel. But when the construction of another landmark threatens their future, Nora and Joe are forced to test the limits of freedom and love.

Delving into Grand Central Terminal’s rich past, Lisa Grunwald crafts a masterful historical novel about a love affair that defies age, class, place, and even time.
Visit Lisa Grunwald's website.

The Page 69 Test: Time After Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about Paris

Whitney Scharer holds a BA in English Literature from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous journals including New Flash Fiction Review, Cimarron Review, and Bellevue Literary Review. Her first novel, The Age of Light, based on the life of pioneering photographer Lee Miller, was published by Little, Brown (US) and Picador (UK) in February, 2019, and is forthcoming from over a dozen other countries. She lives with her husband and daughter in Arlington, MA.

At O: The Oprah Magazine Scharer tagged ten of the best books about Paris. One title on the list:
All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

Millions of copies sold, multiple years on the New York Times bestseller list, and a Pulitzer Prize—Anthony Doerr probably doesn’t need another shout-out about his book, but I can’t help myself. The sections of the novel that take place in Paris, focalized through Marie-Laure, a blind girl whose father works at the Museum of Natural History, are some of the most sensually evocative descriptions of Paris I’ve ever read. I love the structure of the book, too—short chapters that read like prose poems.
Read about another entry on the list.

All the Light We Cannot See is among David Baldacci's six favorite books with an element of mystery, Jason Flemyng's six best books, Sandra Howard's six best books, Caitlin Kleinschmidt's twelve moving novels of the Second World War and Maureen Corrigan's 12 favorite books of 2014.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Pg. 99: Elizabeth Goldring's "Nicholas Hilliard"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist by Elizabeth Goldring.

About the book, from the publisher:
This illustrated biography follows Nicholas Hilliard’s long and remarkable life (c. 1547–1619) from the West Country to the heart of the Elizabethan and Jacobean courts. It showcases new archival research and stunning images, many reproduced in color for the first time. Hilliard’s portraits—some no larger than a watch-face—have decisively shaped perceptions of the appearances and personalities of many key figures in one of the most exciting, if volatile, periods in British history. His sitters included Elizabeth I, James I, and Mary, Queen of Scots; explorers Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh; and members of the emerging middle class from which he himself hailed. Hilliard counted the Medici, the Valois, the Habsburgs, and the Bourbons among his Continental European patrons and admirers. Published to mark the 400th anniversary of Hilliard’s death, this is the definitive biography of one of Britain’s most notable artists.
Learn more about Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist at the Yale University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist.

The Page 99 Test: Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine top classic and contemporary spy novels

When Timothy Jay Smith quit an intriguing international career to become a full-time writer, he had a host of real life characters, places and events to inspire his stories. His first novel, Cooper’s Promise, in some ways is still the most autobiographical of his novels, though he was never an American deserter adrift in Africa. But he was in The Mining Pan bar and he did meet Lulay and he did stowaway on a barge that landed him in an African jail.

Now, in his third novel, The Fourth Courier, set in Poland in 1992, Smith looks back at the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, as witnessed through the eyes of an FBI Special Agent on assignment to stop a nuclear smuggling operation out of Russia. Smith’s newest book continues his style of page-turning thrillers steeped with colorful characters.

At CrimeReads he tagged nine notable spy thrillers, including:
An Honorable Man by Paul Vidich

Paul Vidich’s 2016 debut novel, An Honorable Man, is set in 1950s Washington DC, where the Cold War is heating up amidst the demagoguery of McCarthyism. Josef Stalin’s death has left a dangerous power vacuum in the Soviet Union. Inside the CIA, a presumed double agent, codenamed Protocol, is blamed for helping Moscow assassinate the CIA’s local assets and ruthlessly stop other operations. The CIA, only seven years old, knows McCarthy will destroy its public standing if word gets out about the Russian mole. The CIA hires George Mueller to ferret him out. Who could be more qualified? Yale-educated, he’s run missions in Eastern Europe, and is so dedicated he’s chosen job over wife. Mueller, though, has secrets of his own, and when it’s learned that he’s made contact with a Soviet agent, suspicion falls on him. Until Protocol is found, everyone is a suspect.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is David Drake reading?

Featured at Writers Read: David Drake, author of To Clear Away the Shadows.

His entry begins:
Rustics in Rebellion/George Alfred Townsend

Townsend was a correspondent from Tidewater Maryland writing for northern papers during the Civil War. He was strongly opposed to Secession but he understood the common people who were doing the fighting--and who were being trampled by being in the path of the armies. He was one of those people himself.

This is an honest account of the civil war by a non-combatant who went where the fighting was so that he could report it. It is full of homely details, like writing a note for an illiterate private to his wife and baby girl before the Battle of Cedar Mountain, who says that he'll write more if he...[read on]
About To Clear Away the Shadows, from the publisher:
ADVENTURES BEYOND THE EDGE OF THE KNOWN UNIVERSE

The truce between Cinnabar and the Alliance is holding, and the Republic of Cinnabar Navy is able to explore regions of the galaxy without the explorers being swept up in great power conflict.

The Far Traveller is probing sponge space to open routes for Cinnabar traders—and for RCN warships if war breaks out again. But besides astrogation, the Far Traveller is to survey and catalog life forms on the worlds it touches.

Harry Harper has just been posted to the Traveller. He's an RCN officer by convention, a scientist by training—and a member of one of the leading aristocratic families on Cinnabar by birth.

Lieutenant Rick Grenville would rather serve on a warship in the heart of battle, but peace and the whim of the Navy Board have put him on an exploration vessel instead. He finds that the dangers on the fringes of civilization are just as great as those from missiles and gunfire that he expected to face.

As internal struggles cause the Alliance to relax its iron grip, regional forces are attempting to increase their own power—and they're not fussy about the means they use.

Besides the biological answers that officials on Cinnabar expect the Far Traveller to find, the ship's Director of Science, Dr. Veil, has her own agenda: to learn more about the Archaic Spacefarers who roamed the universe tens of thousands of years before humans reached the stars.

The crew of the Far Traveller is poised to clear more of the shadows away from the deep past than ever before in human history—if they survive.
Visit David Drake's website.

Writers Read: David Drake.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the best books on leadership

Eliane Glaser is a writer, a senior lecturer at Bath Spa University, an associate research fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, and a BBC radio producer. Her books include Get Real: How to See Through the Hype, Spin and Lies of Modern Life and, most recently, Anti-Politics: On the Demonization of Ideology, Authority and the State.

At the Guardian Glaser tagged six top books on leadership, including:
A similar strategy [--put underlings first in order to maximise their performance--] leads to disaster for the nameless narrator of Daphne du Maurier’s luridly brilliant novel Rebecca. When she moves in to widower Maxim de Winter’s imposing family seat, Manderley, she finds it difficult to give the servants their orders. Rather than rewarding her for her liberal attitude, they are horrified by this breaking of protocol. Unpleasant aspects of class are at work here, but the novel also offers a counterintuitive lesson in the importance of rules and norms, of authority appropriately exercised. Our hapless narrator is overpowered by the precedents of her semi-mythical predecessor, Rebecca, and Manderley burns to the ground.
Read about another entry on the list.

Rebecca appears on Penelope Lively’s list of five of her favorite gardens in literature, Xan Brooks's top ten list of terrible houses in fiction, Tom Easton's top ten list of fictional "houses which themselves seem to have a personality which affects the story," Martine Bailey's list of six of the best marriage plots in novels, Stella Gonet's six best books list, John Mullan's list of ten of the best conflagrations in literature, Tess Gerritsen's list of five favorite thrillers, Mary Horlock's list of the five best psychos in literature, and Derwent May's critic's chart of top country house books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 10, 2019

Pg. 99: Robert Blaemire's "Birch Bayh: Making a Difference"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Birch Bayh: Making a Difference by Robert Blaemire.

About the book, from the publisher:
A remarkable history of one of the most legendary US senators of our time, Birch Bayh: Making a Difference reveals a life and career dedicated to the important issues facing Indiana and the nation, including civil rights and equal rights for women. Born in Terre Haute, Indiana, right before the Great Depression, Birch Bayh served more than 25 years in the Indiana General Assembly (1954–1962) and the United States Senate (1963–1981). His influence was seen in landmark legislation over his tenure, including Title IX, the 25th Amendment, the 26th Amendment, Civil Rights of the Institutionalized, Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act, and the Bayh-Dole Act. Bayh was also the author, chief Senate sponsor, and floor leader of the Equal Rights Amendment and successfully led the opposition to two Nixon nominees to the Supreme Court. Robert Blaemire profiles not only the prolific career of this remarkable senator but also an era when compromise and bipartisanship were common in Congress.
Learn more about Birch Bayh: Making a Difference at the Indiana University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Birch Bayh: Making a Difference.

Writers Read: Robert Blaemire.

The Page 99 Test: Birch Bayh: Making a Difference.

--Marshal Zeringue

Lisa Ling's ten favorite books

Lisa Ling is Executive Producer and Host of This Is Life on CNN.

One of her ten favorite books, as shared at Vulture.com:
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford

When we think of Genghis Khan, we think of one of history’s most violent pillagers and rapists. But in actuality, Genghis Khan was a great democratizer. His Mongol Empire conquered more territory in 25 years than the Romans did in 200. His strategy was to kill off the aristocracy and envelop the lowest members of society into his army. He allowed former servants to rise in rank and gain status in his empire.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Rachel Barenbaum's "A Bend in the Stars"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Bend in the Stars by Rachel Barenbaum.

About the book, from the publisher:
For fans of All the Light We Cannot See and The Women in the Castle comes a riveting literary novel that is at once an epic love story and a heart-pounding journey across WWI-era Russia, about an ambitious young doctor and her scientist brother in a race against Einstein to solve one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

In Russia, in the summer of 1914, as war with Germany looms and the Czar’s army tightens its grip on the local Jewish community, Miri Abramov and her brilliant physicist brother, Vanya, are facing an impossible decision. Since their parents drowned fleeing to America, Miri and Vanya have been raised by their babushka, a famous matchmaker who has taught them to protect themselves at all costs: to fight, to kill if necessary, and always to have an escape plan. But now, with fierce, headstrong Miri on the verge of becoming one of Russia’s only female surgeons, and Vanya hoping to solve the final puzzles of Einstein’s elusive theory of relativity, can they bear to leave the homeland that has given them so much?

Before they have time to make their choice, war is declared and Vanya goes missing, along with Miri’s fiancé. Miri braves the firing squad to go looking for them both. As the eclipse that will change history darkens skies across Russia, not only the safety of Miri’s own family but the future of science itself hangs in the balance.

Grounded in real history — and inspired by the solar eclipse of 1914 — A Bend in the Stars offers a heartstopping account of modern science’s greatest race amidst the chaos of World War I, and a love story as epic as the railways crossing Russia.
Visit Rachel Barenbaum's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Bend in the Stars.

The Page 69 Test: A Bend in the Stars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six books that inspired Kristen Arnett's first novel

Kristen Arnett is a queer fiction and essay writer. She was awarded Ninth Letter's 2015 Literary Award in Fiction, was runner-up for the 2016 Robert Watson Literary Prize at The Greensboro Review, and was a finalist for Indiana Review's 2016 Fiction Prize. She's a columnist for Literary Hub and her work has appeared or is upcoming at North American Review, The Normal School, Gulf Coast, TriQuarterly, Guernica, Electric Literature, McSweeneys, PBS Newshour, Literary Hub, Volume 1 Brooklyn, OSU's The Journal, Catapult, Bennington Review, Portland Review, Tin House Flash Fridays/The Guardian, Salon, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Her debut story collection, Felt in the Jaw, was published by Split Lip Press and was awarded the 2017 Coil Book Award.

Arnett's new novel is Mostly Dead Things.

At The Week magazine she tagged six books that inspired her first novel, including:
Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison (1992)

As a regional writer I am always looking for work that centers place, and Allison's semi-autobiographical novel does this beautifully with South Carolina. The writing is raw and rich. It is a love letter to home full of pain and joy and heartbreak. This is the book that made me want to be a writer.
Read about another entry on the list.

Bastard Out of Carolina is among Stephen Graham Jones's twenty books as great today as they were in the 90s and Hanna McGrath's five favorite child narrators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 09, 2019

What is Jennifer Ryan reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jennifer Ryan, author of The Spies of Shilling Lane: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
I recently read The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, and even though I was afraid that it was going to be incredibly harrowing, I found it heartfelt, inspiring, and even upbeat.

The story is based on the life of a Jewish Slovakian man who was transported to Auschwitz early in the Second World War. There he is taken under the wing of the tattooist to be a junior, a job which allows him privileges and extra rations. Then he meets a young woman and...[read on]
About The Spies of Shilling Lane, from the publisher:
From the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir comes a thrilling new WWII story about a village busybody—the mighty Mrs. Braithwaite—who resolves to find, and then rescue, her missing daughter

Mrs. Braithwaite, self-appointed queen of her English village, finds herself dethroned, despised, and dismissed following her husband’s selfish divorce petition. Never deterred, the threat of a family secret being revealed sets her hot-foot to London to find the only person she has left—her clever daughter Betty, who took work there at the first rumbles of war.

But when she arrives, Betty’s landlord, the timid Mr. Norris, informs her that Betty hasn’t been home in days–with the chaos of the bombs, there’s no telling what might have befallen her. Aghast, Mrs. Braithwaite sets her bullish determination to the task of finding her only daughter.

Storming into the London Blitz, Mrs. Braithwaite drags the reluctant Mr. Norris along as an unwitting sidekick as they piece together Betty’s unexpectedly chaotic life. As she is thrown into the midst of danger and death, Mrs. Braithwaite is forced to rethink her old-fashioned notions of status, class, and reputation, and to reconsider the question that’s been puzzling her since her world overturned: How do you measure the success of your life?

Readers will be charmed by the unforgettable Mrs. Braithwaite and her plucky, ruthless optimism, and find in The Spies of Shilling Lane a novel with surprising twists and turns, quiet humor, and a poignant examination of mothers and daughters and the secrets we keep.
Visit Jennifer Ryan's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Spies of Shilling Lane.

Writers Read: Jennifer Ryan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sixteen of the best books for dog-lovers

At The Oprah Magazine McKenzie Jean-Philippe tagged sixteen dog books for anyone who's pet-obsessed. One title on the list:
Off the Leash by Matthew Gilbert

In this non-fiction work Gilbert, a Boston Globe TV Critic, unleashes (see what we did there?) his musings about the characters and events of his local dog park after becoming the first-time owner of a Yellow Lab puppy named Toby.
Read about another entry on the list.

Coffee with a Canine: Matthew Gilbert & Toby.

--Marshal Zeringue

Elizabeth Goldring's "Nicholas Hilliard," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist by Elizabeth Goldring.

The entry begins:
Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist tells the story of Nicholas Hilliard, portrayer of Elizabeth I, James I, and their courts. Born into a family of Devon goldsmiths at the tail-end of Henry VIII’s reign, Hilliard lived an exceptionally long and rich life, notable for the wide range of people he met and portrayed, as well as for his own journey to the heart of the English court – and, indeed, to the heart of the French court, where he spent about two and a half years as a court painter (in all probability doing a bit of spying for Elizabeth I on the side).

Hilliard’s fame derives chiefly from his exquisitely detailed portrait miniatures: tiny images painted in watercolour on vellum using a brush made from squirrel hairs set in a bird quill. Most are no bigger than the lid of jam jar, though some are as small as a watch-face. In an era long before the invention of the photograph – much less the instantly communicable imagery of the mobile telephone – portrait miniatures had the great virtue of being easily portable and thus of helping to create intimacy (or the illusion thereof) across long distances. Hilliard was the first native-born English artist to acquire a reputation for...[read on]
Learn more about Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist at the Yale University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist.

--Marshal Zeringue