Monday, December 05, 2016

Wendy Lee's "The Art of Confidence," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Art of Confidence by Wendy Lee.

The entry begins:
The Art of Confidence is told from five different points of view involving a forged painting: the forger, the gallery owner, her assistant, the buyer, and the original artist.

The forger, Liu Qingwu, is a Chinese immigrant in his fifties who’s lived in America for thirty years as an unsuccessful artist. Outwardly, he’s nearly invisible—another character describes him as looking like a deliveryman. Inside, though, he possesses a keen and pessimistic wit. John Lone (from The Last Emperor and M. Butterfly) would be great at depicting those two sides.

Caroline Lowry, the gallery owner who commissions the forgery, is described by Liu as “well-preserved in the way city women over a certain age are.” She also has her vulnerable and quirky moments, so I feel like Diane...[read on]
Visit Wendy Lee's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Across a Green Ocean.

The Page 69 Test: Across a Green Ocean.

Writers Read: Wendy Lee.

My Book, The Movie: The Art of Confidence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Roz Chast's six favorite books

Roz Chast is a New Yorker cartoonist and author of the award-winning graphic memoir Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Highsmith's first in a series of novels about a charming, fascinating sociopath is by far my favorite. It's one of the most darkly funny books I've read. Tom Ripley is not really a bad guy! He has no conscience and sometimes does some pretty terrible things, but there are always reasons. He just wants to live a nice life surrounded by beauty — doesn't everybody? — though God forbid you should get in his way.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Talented Mr Ripley is on Nicholas Searle's top five list of favorite deceivers in fiction, Chris Ewan's list of the ten top chases in literature, Meave Gallagher's top twenty list of gripping page-turners every twentysomething woman should read, Sophia Bennett's top ten list of books set in the Mediterranean, Emma Straub's top ten list of holidays in fiction, E. Lockhart's list of favorite suspense novels, Sally O'Reilly's top ten list of novels inspired by Shakespeare, Walter Kirn's top six list of books on deception, Stephen May's top ten list of impostors in fiction, Simon Mason's top ten list of chilling fictional crimes, Melissa Albert's list of eight books to change a villain, Koren Zailckas's list of eleven of literature's more evil characters, Alex Berenson's five best list of books about Americans abroad John Mullan's list of ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, Tana French's top ten maverick mysteries list, the Guardian's list of the 50 best summer reads ever, the Telegraph's ultimate reading list, and Francesca Simon's top ten list of antiheroes.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Liar.

My Book, The Movie: The Good Liar.

Writers Read: Nicholas Searle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Pg. 99: Coll Thrush's "Indigenous London"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire by Coll Thrush.

About the book, from the publisher:
An imaginative retelling of London’s history, framed through the experiences of Indigenous travelers who came to the city over the course of more than five centuries

London is famed both as the ancient center of a former empire and as a modern metropolis of bewildering complexity and diversity. In Indigenous London, historian Coll Thrush offers an imaginative vision of the city's past crafted from an almost entirely new perspective: that of Indigenous children, women, and men who traveled there, willingly or otherwise, from territories that became Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States, beginning in the sixteenth century. They included captives and diplomats, missionaries and shamans, poets and performers. Some, like the Powhatan noblewoman Pocahontas, are familiar; others, like an Odawa boy held as a prisoner of war, have almost been lost to history. In drawing together their stories and their diverse experiences with a changing urban culture, Thrush also illustrates how London learned to be a global, imperial city and how Indigenous people were central to that process.
Learn more about Indigenous London at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Indigenous London.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best novels representing the ins & outs of large families

At B&N Reads Hanna McGrath tagged five top novels that really represent the ins and outs of large families, including:
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, by Ayana Mathis (11 kids)

As a teenager in 1923, Hattie Shepard fled Georgia in search of a better life in Philadelphia. What Hattie finds, though, is far from what she’s looking for, and it turns her into a brash and cold mother bent on preparing her children to live in a loveless and cruel world. Hattie’s tribes consist of her eleven children and one granddaughter, and it’s through those tribes that her story unfolds. Each chapter is a focused narrative of one family member, each adding another piece to their family’s puzzle. While the novel’s form is unusual, isn’t this how families (of any size) work? Each tribesman’s story informs/influences the story of the group as a whole.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Beatrice Colin reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Beatrice Colin, author of To Capture What We Cannot Keep.

Her entry begins:
Exposure (2016) by Helen Dunmore

I’m a big fan of Helen Dunmore and have been for years. I love her pared down, poetic prose and clever twists. I met her once at an event and we walked around Winchester Cathedral together. She impressed me further when she looked down at the 12th century Winchester Bible in its glass case and translated the Latin. Anyway, set in England in the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, this novel explores what happens to a young family when caught up in the fringes of an espionage ring. Drawing links with the Jewish experience in Germany in the 1930s, it captures how easily the security of middle-class domesticity can be pulled from below and how one mother goes on to rebuild her life. Like all the best tales, this is a love story with...[read on]
About To Capture What We Cannot Keep, from the publisher:
Set against the construction of the Eiffel Tower, this novel charts the relationship between a young Scottish widow and a French engineer who, despite constraints of class and wealth, fall in love.

In February 1887, Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier meet in a hot air balloon, floating high above Paris, France--a moment of pure possibility. But back on firm ground, their vastly different social strata become clear. Cait is a widow who because of her precarious financial situation is forced to chaperone two wealthy Scottish charges. Émile is expected to take on the bourgeois stability of his family's business and choose a suitable wife. As the Eiffel Tower rises, a marvel of steel and air and light, the subject of extreme controversy and a symbol of the future, Cait and Émile must decide what their love is worth.

Seamlessly weaving historical detail and vivid invention, Beatrice Colin evokes the revolutionary time in which Cait and Émile live--one of corsets and secret trysts, duels and Bohemian independence, strict tradition and Impressionist experimentation. To Capture What We Cannot Keep, stylish, provocative, and shimmering, raises probing questions about a woman's place in that world, the overarching reach of class distinctions, and the sacrifices love requires of us all.
Visit Beatrice Colin's website.

My Book, The Movie: To Capture What We Cannot Keep.

Writers Read: Beatrice Colin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Pg. 99: David Welky's "A Wretched and Precarious Situation"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A Wretched and Precarious Situation: In Search of the Last Arctic Frontier by David Welky.

About the book, from the publisher:
A remarkable true story of adventure, betrayal, and survival set in one of the world’s most inhospitable places.

In 1906, from atop a snow-swept hill in the ice fields northwest of Greenland, hundreds of miles from another human being, Commander Robert E. Peary spotted a line of mysterious peaks looming in the distance. He called this unexplored realm “Crocker Land.” Scientists and explorers agreed that the world-famous explorer had discovered a new continent rising from the frozen Arctic Ocean.

Several years later, two of Peary’s disciples, George Borup and Donald MacMillan, assembled a team of amateur adventurers to investigate Crocker Land. Before them lay a chance at the kind of lasting fame enjoyed by Magellan, Columbus, and Captain Cook. While filling in the last blank space on the globe, they might find new species of plants or animals, or even men; in the era of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, anything seemed possible. Renowned scientific institutions, and even former president Theodore Roosevelt, rushed to endorse the expedition.

What followed was a sequence of events that none of the explorers could have imagined. Trapped in a true-life adventure story, the men endured howling blizzards, unearthly cold, food shortages, isolation, a fatal boating accident, a drunken sea captain, disease, dissension, and a horrific crime. But the team pushed on through every obstacle, driven forward by the mystery of Crocker Land and faint hopes that they someday would make it home.

Populated with a cast of memorable characters, and based on years of research in previously untapped sources, A Wretched and Precarious Situation is a harrowing Arctic narrative unlike any other.
David Welky is the author of The Thousand-Year Flood: The Ohio-Mississippi Disaster of 1937, The Moguls and the Dictators: Hollywood and the Coming of World War II, and other books. He is a professor of history at the University of Central Arkansas.

The Page 99 Test: The Thousand-Year Flood.

My Book, The Movie: A Wretched and Precarious Situation.

Writers Read: David Welky.

The Page 99 Test: A Wretched and Precarious Situation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books about human horror

J.A. Rock is the author or coauthor of over twenty LGBTQ romance, suspense, and horror novels, as well as an occasional contributor to HuffPo Queer Voices. One of her five "favorite horror stories where the real danger is human, rather than paranormal," as shared at Tor.com:
The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

I’m a sucker for anything carnival-themed, but there are no evil clowns or funhouses of death here. Instead, The Wicked Girls follows two middle-aged women—Amber, a carnival cleaner, and Kirsty, a journalist—as they attempt to keep their separate, unremarkable lives under control. Until a chance encounter sets things spiraling toward disaster.

The book weaves back and forth in time, from the present to a childhood where Amber and Kirsty knew each other by different names. The two women are bound together by a horrible event: the long ago murder of a four-year-old, for which they were jointly convicted and served time in a juvenile prison before being released with new identities and a legal mandate never to contact each other again. Props to Marwood for her ability to make her leads by turns sympathetic and repellant, while casually offering mob mentality as an alternative villain in this story. What’s scarier—two allegedly murderous eleven-year-olds, or a gang of self-righteous townspeople hell-bent on vigilante justice? At times, it’s a toss up.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Karen Harper's "Chasing Shadows"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Chasing Shadows by Karen Harper.

About the book, from the publisher:
The dead still talk if you know how to listen

Every case that Claire Britten cracks is a win, not only professionally but personally. The forensic psychologist has spent a lifetime fighting a neurological disorder, and her ability to conquer it is a testament to her razor-sharp intuition.

Nick Markwood is used to winning in the courtroom, so when his latest case is overthrown by Claire's expert testimony, he can't help being impressed by her skill. He needs her on the team of his passion project—investigating unusual cases involving mysterious deaths. Her condition doesn't deter him, and neither does the attraction that sparks between them…even if it should.

As they join forces to investigate a murder in St. Augustine, Florida, Claire is thrust into a situation far more dangerous than she'd anticipated, pushing her disorder to a breaking point. Just when she fears she can't trust her own mind, she discovers Nick's personal connection to the case—and wonders whether she can trust anyone at all.
Visit Karen Harper's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Broken Bonds.

The Page 69 Test: Chasing Shadows.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 02, 2016

Pg. 99: Charles Wohlforth & Amanda Hendrix's "Beyond Earth"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Beyond Earth: Our Path to a New Home in the Planets by Charles Wohlforth and Amanda R. Hendrix.

About the book, from the publisher:
From a leading planetary scientist and an award-winning science writer, a propulsive account of the developments and initiatives that have transformed the dream of space colonization into something that may well be achievable.

We are at the cusp of a golden age in space science, as increasingly more entrepreneurs—Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos—are seduced by the commercial potential of human access to space. But Beyond Earth does not offer another wide-eyed technology fantasy: instead, it is grounded not only in the human capacity for invention and the appeal of adventure but also in the bureaucratic, political, and scientific realities that present obstacles to space travel—realities that have hampered NASA’s efforts ever since the Challenger disaster.

In Beyond Earth, Charles Wohlforth and Amanda R.Hendrix offer groundbreaking research and argue persuasively that not Mars, but Titan—a moon of Saturn with a nitrogen atmosphere, a weather cycle, and an inexhaustible supply of cheap energy, where we will even be able to fly like birds in the minimal gravitational field—offers the most realistic and thrill­ing prospect of life without support from Earth.
Visit Charles Wohlforth's website and Facebook page, and learn more about Amanda R. Hendrix.

The Page 99 Test: The Fate of Nature.

The Page 99 Test: Beyond Earth.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Wendy Lee reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Wendy Lee, author of The Art of Confidence.

Her entry begins:
I’ve just finished The Expatriates by Janice Y. K. Lee, author of the also excellent The Piano Teacher. The story revolves around three women living in Hong Kong and the way their lives intersect—literally, in the place that’s become their temporary home; and thematically, around the issues of belonging, grief, and...[read on]
About The Art of Confidence, from the publisher:
“I suppose I did it because I wanted something to show for the thirty years—longer than I had lived in my homeland—that I had been here in America. Something that was properly appreciated, even if someone else got all the credit.”

Liu Qingwu doesn’t set out to commit a crime. He only wants to sell a painting—something more substantial than the Impressionist knockoffs he flogs to tourists outside New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. But the lucrative commission he receives from a Chelsea art dealer is more complicated than he initially realizes. Liu has been hired to create not an homage to Andrew Cantrell’s modernist masterpiece, Elegy, but a forgery that will sell for millions.

The painting will change the lives of everyone associated with it—Liu, a Chinese immigrant still reeling from his wife’s recent departure; Caroline, a gallery owner intent on saving her aunt’s legacy; Molly, her perceptive assistant; and Harold, a Taiwanese businessman with an ethical dilemma on his hands. Weaving together their stories with that of Cantrell and the inspiration for his masterpiece, Wendy Lee’s intricate, multilayered novel explores the unique fascination of great art and the lengths to which some are driven to create it—and to possess it.
Visit Wendy Lee's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Across a Green Ocean.

The Page 69 Test: Across a Green Ocean.

Writers Read: Wendy Lee.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top classic mysteries

Charles Finch is a graduate of Yale and Oxford. He is the author of the Charles Lenox mysteries. His first novel, A Beautiful Blue Death, was nominated for an Agatha Award and was named one of Library Journal's Best Books of 2007, one of only five mystery novels on the list. His first contemporary novel, The Last Enchantments, was published in 2015.

In 2014, for USA Today, he tagged six classic mysteries every fan should read, including:
The Moving Target by Ross Macdonald (1949)

At some invisible moment in the middle of the 20th century, America wrestled the mystery novel away from the Brits. Conan Doyle, Margery Allingham and Christie gave way to the tougher, wisecracking style of Dashiell Hammett and Chester Himes. As Raymond Chandler said, it was their job to "get murder away from the upper classes."

For my money, the best book in that hard-boiled, sun-soaked California style is The Moving Target. What's amazing about it is how the crime Lew Archer is hired to solve – the disappearance of an oil magnate – is obscured by a whole multitude of unrelated crimes. In Archer's line of work, everyone's guilty of something, even if it's not the something you're chasing. That fits the weary post-war worldview of the genre whose dispassionate detectives, like Archer, Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe knew that solving one mystery only meant uncovering a few new ones. We love them because they kept trying anyway.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Beatrice Colin's "To Capture What We Cannot Keep," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin.

The entry begins:
Some writers have a vivid picture of who they would cast in the movie of their book as they write it. I can picture my characters but they aren’t Hollywood actors. And so when my agent asked me at first I drew a blank. And yet if I could have anyone from any period, it would be much easier. For my main character, Cait Wallace, who is a young Scottish widow, I would cast a young Faye Dunaway or a young Jeanne Moreau. Both are beautiful, intelligent and effortlessly stylish. For Emile Nougieur, one of the engineers who designed the Eiffel Tower, the...[read on]
Visit Beatrice Colin's website.

My Book, The Movie: To Capture What We Cannot Keep.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Pg. 99: Philippe Girard's "Toussaint Louverture"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Toussaint Louverture: A Revolutionary Life by Philippe Girard.

About the book, from the publisher:
The definitive biography of the Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture, leader of the only successful slave revolt in world history

Toussaint Louverture's life was one of hardship, triumph, and contradiction. Born into bondage in Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti), the richest colony in the Western Hemisphere, he witnessed first-hand the torture of the enslaved population. Yet he managed to secure his freedom and establish himself as a small-scale planter. He even purchased slaves of his own.

In Toussaint Louverture, Philippe Girard reveals the dramatic story of how Louverture transformed himself from lowly freedman to revolutionary hero. In 1791, the unassuming Louverture masterminded the only successful slave revolt in history. By 1801, he was general and governor of Saint-Domingue, and an international statesman who forged treaties with Britain, France, Spain, and the United States—empires that feared the effect his example would have on their slave regimes. Louveture's ascendency was short-lived, however. In 1802, he was exiled to France, dying soon after as one of the most famous men in the world, variously feared and celebrated as the "Black Napoleon."

As Girard shows, in life Louverture was not an idealist, but an ambitious pragmatist. He strove not only for abolition and independence, but to build Saint-Domingue's economic might and elevate his own social standing. He helped free Saint-Domingue's slaves yet immediately restricted their rights in the interests of protecting the island's sugar production. He warded off French invasions but embraced the cultural model of the French gentility.

In death, Louverture quickly passed into legend, his memory inspiring abolitionist, black nationalist, and anti-colonialist movements well into the 20th century. Deeply researched and bracingly original, Toussaint Louverture is the definitive biography of one of the most influential people of his era, or any other.
Learn more about Toussaint Louverture at the Basic Books website.

My Book, The Movie: Toussaint Louverture.

The Page 99 Test: Toussaint Louverture.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Brent Weeks reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Brent Weeks, author of The Blood Mirror (Lightbringer Series #4).

His entry begins:
I have eclectic reading tastes, and I'm perfectly fine with that. I think Haruki Murakami said that if you read the same things everyone else does, you'll think the same things everyone else does.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance--Nonfiction. This is an examination by neurobiologist Angela Duckworth of what she calls "non-IQ competencies." Why do some people succeed? Why do some find meaning and purpose and happiness in their work? Can people learn to have more "grit"? I love books that examine what makes great people great, not only for my self-edification, but also for character studies in...[read on]
About The Blood Mirror, from the publisher:
When does an empire fall?

The Seven Satrapies have collapsed into four-and those are falling before the White King's armies.

Gavin Guile, ex-emperor, ex-Prism, ex-galley slave, formerly the one man who might have averted war, is now lost, broken, and trapped in a prison crafted by his own hands to hold a great magical genius. But Gavin has no magic at all. Worse, in this prison, Gavin may not be alone.

Kip Guile will make a last, desperate attempt to stop the White King's growing horde. Karris White attempts to knit together an empire falling apart, helped only by her murderous and possibly treasonous father-in-law Andross Guile.

Meanwhile, Teia's new talents will find a darker use-and the cost might be too much to bear.

Together, they will fight to prevent a tainted empire from becoming something even worse.
Learn more about the book and author at Brent Weeks's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Black Prism (Lightbringer Series #1).

Writers Read: Brent Weeks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten notable books about New Orleans

The Guardian invited its readers to come up with the best books about New Orleans. One title to make the list:
A Hall of Mirrors by Robert Stone (1964)

Robert Stone’s “brilliant debut”, recommended by miasmadude, used the city as the setting for an eclectic melange of the dark side of America that emerged in the 60s, “something I shattered my youth against”. It won both the William Faulkner and Houghton Mifflin first novel awards. Stone had been literally registering New Orleans’s inhabitants as a census worker in 1960. With the spirit of the Vietnam war clearly in the background, its characters include a right-wing disc jockey and failed musician, civil rights activists, corrupt politicians and many more fishes out of water.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Sara Driscoll's "Lone Wolf"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Lone Wolf by Sara Driscoll.

About Lone Wolf, from the publisher:
In the first book in a thrilling new series, FBI Special Agent Meg Jennings and Hawk, her loyal search-and-rescue Labrador, must race against time as they zero in on one of the deadliest killers in the country...

Meg and Hawk are part of the FBI’s elite K-9 unit. Hawk can sniff out bodies anywhere—living or dead—whether it’s tracking a criminal or finding a missing person. When a bomb rips apart a government building on the National Mall in Washington D.C., it takes all of the team’s extensive search-and-rescue training to locate and save the workers and visitors buried beneath the rubble.

But even as the duo are hailed as heroes, a mad bomber remains at large, striking terror across the Eastern seaboard in a ruthless pursuit of retribution. As more bombs are detonated and the body count escalates, Meg and Hawk are brought in to a task force dedicated to stopping the unseen killer. But when the attacks spiral wide and any number of locations could be the next target, it will come down to a battle of wits and survival skills between Meg, Hawk, and the bomber they’re tracking to rescue a nation from the brink of chaos.
Learn more about Lone Wolf: An FBI K-9 Novel.

The Page 69 Test: Lone Wolf.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pg. 99: J. Michelle Coghlan's "Sensational Internationalism"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Sensational Internationalism: The Paris Commune and the Remapping of American Memory in the Long Nineteenth Century by J. Michelle Coghlan.

About the book,from the publisher:
"Skillfully researched and beautifully written, Sensational Internationalism broadens the contours of American cultural and political memory by bringing to life the profound reverberations produced in the States by what was on one level just a very brief moment in someone else's history: the Paris Commune. Michelle Coghlan's stunning archive lends her account breadth and authority missing in those that would minimize those effects or limit them to a solely labor phenomenon." - Kristin Ross, New York University

In refocusing attention on the Paris Commune as a key event in American political and cultural memory, Sensational Internationalism radically changes our understanding of the relationship between France and the United States in the long nineteenth century. It offers fascinating, remarkably accessible readings of a range of literary works, from periodical poetry and boys' adventure fiction to radical pulp and the writings of Henry James, as well as a rich analysis of visual, print, and performance culture, from post-bellum illustrated weeklies and panoramas to agit-prop pamphlets and Coney Island pyrotechnic shows. Throughout, it uncovers how a foreign revolution came back to life as a domestic commodity, and why for decades another nation's memory came to feel so much our own. This book will speak to readers looking to understand the affective, cultural, and aesthetic afterlives of revolt and revolution pre-and-post Occupy Wall Street, as well as those interested in space, gender, performance, and transatlantic print culture.
Learn more about Sensational Internationalism at the publisher's website.

My Book, The Movie: Sensational Internationalism.

The Page 99 Test: Sensational Internationalism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about postwar Britain

Orange Prize winning and Booker Prize shortlisted author Linda Grant's new novel is The Dark Circle. One of Grant's top ten books about postwar Britain, as shared at the Guardian:
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Orwell’s 1949 novel...has never been out of print. Government surveillance, perpetual war and historical revisionism make only the technology seem dated. He anticipated the new forms totalitarianism would take. It is a novel for every decade, a permanent warning of the dystopian future ahead. (The internet meme of the CCTV camera next to the blue plaque on his house is a Photoshopped fake, by the way.)
Read about another entry on the list.

Nineteen Eighty-four is on Ella Cosmo's list of five fictional books-within-a-book too dangerous to read, the list of four books that changed Peter Twohig, the Guardian's list of the five worst book covers ever, the Independent's list of the fifteen best opening lines in literature, W.B. Gooderham's top ten list of books given in books, Katharine Trendacosta and Amanda Yesilbas's list of ten paranoid science fiction stories that could help you survive, Na'ima B. Robert's top ten list of Romeo and Juliet stories, Gabe Habash's list of ten songs inspired by books and a list of the 100 best last lines from novels. The book made Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten science fiction novels we pretend to have read, Juan E. Méndez's list of five books on torture, P. J. O’Rourke's list of the five best political satires, Daniel Johnson's five best list of books about Cold War culture, Robert Collins' top ten list of dystopian novels, Gemma Malley's top 10 list of dystopian novels for teenagers, is one of Norman Tebbit's six best books and one of the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King. It made a difference to Isla Fisher, and appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best Aprils in literature, ten of the best rats in literature, and ten of the best horrid children in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Larrie D. Ferreiro's "Brothers at Arms," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Brothers at Arms: American Independence and the Men of France and Spain Who Saved It by Larrie D. Ferreiro.

The entry begins:
Brothers at Arms: American Independence and the Men of France and Spain Who Saved It tells the stories of the French and Spanish merchants, ministers, soldiers and sailors who all came to the assistance of the fledgling United States during the Revolutionary War, even before the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord, and were crucial to carrying the American Cause through to victory.

So vast a canvas is hard to portray on screen and still keep the audience riveted, so it needs a central character whose story arc allows the audience to follow the events, while still retaining a singular focus. This character should be based on a real-life model, just as in The Patriot, Mel Gibson’s Benjamin Martin was based on the real-life “Swamp Fox” Francis Marion.

Fortunately, such a character appears throughout Brothers at Arms and should be the inspiration for the movie’s main character, a person who saw many different battles throughout the war. Antoine Félix Wuibert was among the very first French volunteers to the American cause when he came to Philadelphia in 1776, and was commissioned by John Hancock as an American officer even before the Declaration of Independence was signed. He fought under George Washington when the British overran New York City, where he was captured and imprisoned back in England.

After Wuibert was paroled, he signed on to serve with John Paul Jones aboard the frigate Bonhomme Richard, and during the famous battle with Serapis he led the marines who ultimately defeated and captured the much larger British ship. Even though he was seriously wounded in the battle, he begged to return to America to rejoin the fight. On his way back he was again captured, imprisoned and released before returning to the serve again as an officer under George Washington. After the war he became an American citizen and a staunch abolitionist.

So if Wuibert was the Forrest Gump of the American Revolution, who should play him? Of course...[read on]
Learn more about Brothers at Arms at the Knopf website.

My Book, The Movie: Brothers at Arms.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Andrew Harding reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Andrew Harding, author of The Mayor of Mogadishu: A Story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia.

His entry begins:
I’m gearing up to write my second book – a non-fiction tale about a brutal double murder here in South Africa and the way the subsequent investigation and trial have been stirring up all sorts of political tensions in a small farming town. And so yes, I’ve been re-reading In Cold Blood, looking for tips, and have been left, once again, in awe of Truman Capote’s skill at hiding the seams and stitches that allowed him to transform years of interviews and transcripts into such a...[read on]
About The Mayor of Mogadishu, from the publisher:
In The Mayor of Mogadishu, one of the BBC’s most experienced foreign correspondents, Andrew Harding, reveals the tumultuous life of Mohamoud “Tarzan” Nur - an impoverished nomad who was abandoned in a state orphanage in newly independent Somalia, and became a street brawler and activist. When the country collapsed into civil war and anarchy, Tarzan and his young family became part of an exodus, eventually spending twenty years in north London.

But in 2010 Tarzan returned, as Mayor, to the unrecognizable ruins of a city now almost entirely controlled by the Islamist militants of Al Shabab. For many in Mogadishu, and in the diaspora, Tarzan became a galvanizing symbol of courage and hope for Somalia. But for others, he was a divisive thug, who sank beneath the corruption and clan rivalries that continue, today, to threaten the country’s revival.

The Mayor of Mogadishu is a rare an insider’s account of Somalia’s unraveling, and an intimate portrayal of one family’s extraordinary journey.
Visit Andrew Harding's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Mayor of Mogadishu.

Writers Read: Andrew Harding.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pg. 99: Robert L. Kelly's "The Fifth Beginning"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Fifth Beginning: What Six Million Years of Human History Can Tell Us about Our Future by Robert L. Kelly.

About the book, from the publisher:
“I have seen yesterday. I know tomorrow.” This inscription in Tutankhamun’s tomb summarizes The Fifth Beginning. Here, archaeologist Robert L. Kelly explains how the study of our cultural past can predict the future of humanity.

In an eminently readable style, Kelly identifies four key pivot points in the six-million-year history of human development: the emergence of technology, culture, agriculture, and the state. In each example, the author examines the long-term processes that resulted in a definitive, no-turning-back change for the organization of society. Kelly then looks ahead, giving us evidence for what he calls a fifth beginning, one that started about AD 1500. Some might call it “globalization,” but the author places it in its larger context: a five-thousand-year arms race, capitalism’s global reach, and the cultural effects of a worldwide communication network.

Kelly predicts that the emergent phenomena of this fifth beginning will include the end of war as a viable way to resolve disputes, the end of capitalism as we know it, the widespread shift toward world citizenship, and the rise of forms of cooperation that will end the near-sacred status of nation-states. It’s the end of life as we have known it. However, the author is cautiously optimistic: he dwells not on the coming chaos, but on humanity’s great potential.
Learn more about The Fifth Beginning at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Fifth Beginning.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five SFF books that treat mental illness with compassion

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Ardi Alspach tagged five works of speculative fiction that address mental illness with compassion, including:
Borderline, Mishell Baker

This recent debut novel redefines urban fantasy as we know it. The genre often relies on sexy protagonists and their equally sexy supernatural counterparts to move the plot along—werewolves, witches, and all sorts of otherworldly beings. In Borderline, a group of deeply flawed human characters takes center stage. Millie, the novel’s protagonist, is recovering from a suicide attempt that left her a double-amputee—and dealing with a new diagnosis of borderline personality disorder—when she’s approached by a mysterious woman with an offer to join a secret government initiative called The Arcadia Project. It turns out her mental illness makes her a prime candidate to deal with policing traffic between Earth and a parallel reality inhabited by fairies. When a fairy nobleman, working undercover in Hollywood as a high-profile movie star, goes missing, Millie struggles to solve the mystery and juggle the personality quirks of a host os prickly allies and potential enemies, even as she comes to terms with her own mental health struggles and her new place in the world. This might be the only fantasy novel I’ve come across that puts mental illness at the forefront and gives people who face similar issues a protagonist they can root for.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Zana Fraillon's "The Bone Sparrow"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon.

About the book, from the publisher:
Subhi is a refugee. He was born in an Australian permanent detention center after his mother and sister fled the violence of a distant homeland, and the center is the only world he knows. But every night, the faraway whales sing to him, the birds tell him their stories, and the magical Night Sea from his mother's stories brings him gifts. As Subhi grows, his imagination threatens to burst beyond the limits of the fences that contain him. Until one night, it seems to do just that.

Subhi sees a scruffy girl on the other side of the wire mesh, a girl named Jimmie, who appears with a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it herself, Jimmie asks Subhi to unravel her family's love songs and tragedies that are penned there.

Subhi and Jimmie might both find comfort-and maybe even freedom-as their tales unfold. But not until each has been braver than ever before and made choices that could change everything.
Follow Zana Fraillon on Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: The Bone Sparrow.

Writers Read: Zana Fraillon.

The Page 69 Test: The Bone Sparrow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven top underappreciated literary masterpieces

Kim Church's short stories and poetry have appeared in Shenandoah, Mississippi Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Prime Number Magazine, the Norton anthology Flash Fiction Forward, and elsewhere. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has received fiction fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Millay Colony for the Arts, and Vermont Studio Center.

Born and raised in Lexington, North Carolina, Church earned her B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her J.D. degree from UNC School of Law. She has taught writing workshops in a variety of settings, from college classrooms to death row. She lives with her husband, artist Anthony Ulinski, in Raleigh, where she divides her time between writing and law.

Church's first novel, Byrd, won the Crook’s Corner Book Prize and the Independent Publisher Book Award Bronze Medal for Literary Fiction; was a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize and the Balcones Fiction Prize; and was longlisted for the SIBA Book Award and the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction.

One title on the author's list of eleven underappreciated literary masterpieces, as shared at the Huffington Post:
The Call by Yannick Murphy (2011)

There are books for which my love is too deep and abiding to put into words. This is one. The narrator of The Call is a large-animal veterinarian in rural New England whose routine is upended when his son is injured in a hunting accident. As he searches for the person responsible, he begins to experience visits from UFOs. He delivers his account as if it were a series of veterinary reports. The first paragraph, for example, is organized under the headings Call, Action, Result, Thoughts on Drive Home While Passing Red and Gold Leaves on Maple Trees, What Children Said to Me When I Got Home, What the Wife Cooked for Dinner. This is an original and profoundly moving story of family, animals, community, grief, forgiveness, and spaceships.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue