Sunday, April 05, 2020

Pg. 99: Nicholas Daly's "Ruritania"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Ruritania: A Cultural History, from The Prisoner of Zenda to the Princess Diaries by Nicholas Daly.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is a book about the long cultural shadow cast by a single bestselling novel, Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda (1894), which introduced Ruritania, a colourful pocket kingdom. In this swashbuckling tale, Englishman Rudolf Rassendyll impersonates the king of Ruritania to foil a coup, but faces a dilemma when he falls for the lovely Princess Flavia. Hope's novel inspired stage and screen adaptations, place names, and even a board game, but it also launched a whole new subgenre, the "Ruritanian romance". The new form offered swordplay, royal romance, and splendid uniforms and gowns in such settings as Alasia, Balaria, and Cadonia.

This study explores both the original appeal of The Prisoner of Zenda, and the extraordinary longevity and adaptability of the Ruritanian formula, which, it is argued, has been rooted in a lingering fascination with royalty, and the pocket kingdom's capacity to hold a looking glass up to Britain and later the United States. Individual chapters look at Hope's novel and its stage and film adaptations; at the forgotten American versions of Ruritania; at the chocolate-box principalities of the musical stage; at Cold War reworkings of the formula; and at Ruritania's recent reappearance in young adult fiction and made-for-television Christmas movies. The adventures of Ruritania have involved a diverse list of contributors, including John Buchan, P.G Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Vladimir Nabokov, and Ian Fleming among the writers; Sigmund Romberg and Ivor Novello among the composers; Erich Von Stroheim and David O. Selznick among the film-makers; and Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Peter Ustinov, Peter Sellers, and Anne Hathaway among the performers.
Follow Nick Daly on Twitter, and read more about Ruritania: A Cultural History.

The Page 99 Test: Ruritania: A Cultural History.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine unabashed books about bodies

Cai Emmons is the author of the novels His Mother’s Son (Harcourt), The Stylist (HarperCollins), and Weather Woman (Red Hen Press). A sequel to Weather Woman, called Sinking Islands, is forthcoming.

Her latest book is the story collection, Vanishing, winner of the 2018 Leapfrog Fiction Contest.

At LitHub, Emmons tagged nine books that "are notable for the frank eye they bring to physical pleasure and pain, and the overall messiness of human bodies." One title on the list:
Mary Gaitskill, Bad Behavior

Mary Gaitskill’s short story collection, Bad Behavior, contains nine stories that feature lonely characters living in New York, working class and professional people, many of whom try to sedate themselves with drugs or sadomasochistic sex. Refusing the sensational, Gaitskill writes matter-of-factly, using plainspoken language to describe the sometimes shocking things her characters do to make their lonely lives more palatable. In the story “Romantic Weekend” she writes: “Queasily, he stripped off her clothes and put their bodies in a viable position. He fastened his teeth on her breast and bit her. She made a surprised noise and her body stiffened. He bit her again, harder. She screamed. He wanted to draw blood. Her screams were short and stifled. He could tell that she was trying to like being bitten, but that she did not. He gnawed her breast. She screamed sharply. They screwed. The broke apart and regarded each other warily.” Gaitskill’s objective, almost deadpan description of such scenes demands that the reader, too, does not turn away.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Pg. 69: Ed Ruggero's "Blame the Dead"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Blame the Dead by Ed Ruggero.

About the book, from the publisher:
Ed Ruggero's Blame the Dead is the thrilling start of an action-packed and timely World War II series by a former Army Officer for fans of compelling historical fiction.

Set against the heroism and heartbreak of World War II, former Army officer Ed Ruggero brilliantly captures, with grace and authenticity, the evocative and timeless stories of ordinary people swept up in extraordinary times.

Sicily, 1943. Eddie Harkins, former Philadelphia beat cop turned Military Police lieutenant, reluctantly finds himself first at the scene of a murder at the US Army’s 11th Field Hospital. There the nurses contend with heat, dirt, short-handed staffs, the threat of German counterattack, an ever-present flood of horribly wounded GIs, and the threat of assault by one of their own—at least until someone shoots Dr. Myers Stephenson in the head.

With help from nurse Kathleen Donnelly, once a childhood friend and now perhaps something more, it soon becomes clear to Harkins that the unit is rotten to its core. As the battle lines push forward, Harkins is running out of time to find one killer before he can strike again.
Visit Ed Ruggero's website.

Writers Read: Ed Ruggero.

My Book, The Movie: Blame the Dead.

The Page 69 Test: Blame the Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Eugenia Lean's "Vernacular Industrialism in China"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Vernacular Industrialism in China: Local Innovation and Translated Technologies in the Making of a Cosmetics Empire, 1900–1940 by Eugenia Lean.

About the book, from the publisher:
In early twentieth-century China, Chen Diexian (1879–1940) was a maverick entrepreneur—at once a prolific man of letters and captain of industry, a magazine editor and cosmetics magnate. He tinkered with chemistry in his private studio, used local cuttlefish to source magnesium carbonate, and published manufacturing tips in how-to columns. In a rapidly changing society, Chen copied foreign technologies and translated manufacturing processes from abroad to produce adaptations of global commodities that bested foreign brands. Engaging in the worlds of journalism, industry, and commerce, he drew on literati practices associated with late-imperial elites but deployed them in novel ways within a culture of educated tinkering that generated industrial innovation.

Through the lens of Chen’s career, Eugenia Lean explores how unlikely individuals devised unconventional, homegrown approaches to industry and science in early twentieth-century China. She contends that Chen’s activities exemplify “vernacular industrialism,” the pursuit of industry and science outside of conventional venues, often involving ad hoc forms of knowledge and material work. Lean shows how vernacular industrialists accessed worldwide circuits of law and science and experimented with local and global processes of manufacturing to navigate, innovate, and compete in global capitalism. In doing so, they presaged the approach that has helped fuel China’s economic ascent in the twenty-first century. Rather than conventional narratives that depict China as belatedly borrowing from Western technology, Vernacular Industrialism in China offers a new understanding of industrialization, going beyond material factors to show the central role of culture and knowledge production in technological and industrial change.
Visit Eugenia Lean's website.

The Page 99 Test: Vernacular Industrialism in China.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thirteen top pandemic novels

The staff at Publishers Weekly tagged thirteen essential pandemic novels, including:
A Song for a New Day
Sarah Pinsker

Pinsker's novel is set in a post-pandemic U.S. where large gatherings are banned and the only way to experience live music is virtually. Kinda like now. But scrappy groups of musicians and fans get together in secret, in warehouses and basements and barns, bonding and building community. Reading the book now is a little unsettling since we’re in the before and the during, but it gives hope for what might come after.
Read about another entry on the list.

A Song for a New Day is among Mike Chen's five top novels about finding hope at the end of the world.

The Page 69 Test: A Song for a New Day.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 03, 2020

What is Clarissa Goenawan reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Clarissa Goenawan, author of The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida.

Her entry begins:
The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao.

The novel opens with Gwendolyn, still in comma, trying to retrace her memories. She is the sole survivor of a poisoning incident that wiped up her entire family and their circle of friends, some of the wealthiest Chinese Indonesian families. From the beginning, we know that the culprit was none other than her sister, Estella.

With such an impactful opening, I knew I couldn’t miss this book. Rather than a thriller, I would say it’s more of a family drama. The story itself is page-turning and Tiffany writes well, but what touched me the most is...[read on]
About The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida, from the publisher:
From the critically acclaimed author of Rainbirds comes a novel of tragedy and dark histories set in Japan.

University sophomore Miwako Sumida has hanged herself, leaving those closest to her reeling. In the months before her suicide, she was hiding away in a remote mountainside village, but what, or whom, was she running from?

Ryusei, a fellow student at Waseda who harbored unrequited feelings for Miwako, begs her best friend Chie to bring him to the remote village where she spent her final days. While they are away, his older sister, Fumi, who took Miwako on as an apprentice in her art studio, receives an unexpected guest at her apartment in Tokyo, distracting her from her fear that Miwako’s death may ruin what is left of her brother’s life.

Expanding on the beautifully crafted world of Rainbirds, Clarissa Goenawan gradually pierces through a young woman’s careful façade, unmasking her most painful secrets.
Visit Clarissa Goenawan's website.

Writers Read: Clarissa Goenawan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Walker Robins's "Between Dixie and Zion"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Between Dixie and Zion: Southern Baptists and Palestine before Israel by Walker Robins.

About the book, from the publisher:
Explores the roots of evangelical Christian support for Israel through an examination of the Southern Baptist Convention

One week after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) repeatedly and overwhelmingly voted down resolutions congratulating fellow Southern Baptist Harry Truman on his role in Israel’s creation. From today’s perspective, this seems like a shocking result. After all, Christians—particularly the white evangelical Protestants who populate the SBC—are now the largest pro-Israel constituency in the United States. How could conservative evangelicals have been so hesitant in celebrating Israel’s birth in 1948? How did they then come to be so supportive?

Between Dixie and Zion: Southern Baptists and Palestine before Israel addresses these issues by exploring how Southern Baptists engaged what was called the “Palestine question”: whether Jews or Arabs would, or should, control the Holy Land after World War I. Walker Robins argues that, in the decades leading up to the creation of Israel, most Southern Baptists did not directly engage the Palestine question politically. Rather, they engaged it indirectly through a variety of encounters with the land, the peoples, and the politics of Palestine. Among the instrumental figures featured by Robins are tourists, foreign missionaries, Arab pastors, converts from Judaism, biblical interpreters, fundamentalist rebels, editorialists, and, of course, even a president. While all revered Palestine as the Holy Land, each approached and encountered the region according to their own priorities.

Nevertheless, Robins shows that Baptists consistently looked at the region through an Orientalist framework, broadly associating the Zionist movement with Western civilization, modernity, and progress over and against the Arabs, whom they viewed as uncivilized, premodern, and backward. He argues that such impressions were not idle—they suggested that the Zionists were bringing to fruition Baptists’ long-expressed hopes that Israel would regain the prosperity it had held in the biblical era, the Holy Land would one day be revived, and biblical prophecies preceding the return of Christ would be fulfilled.
Walker Robins is lecturer in history at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts. His work has been published in the Journal of Church and State, Journal of Southern Religion, Baptist History & Heritage Journal, and Israel Studies.

The Page 99 Test: Between Dixie and Zion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top novels in the complicated literature of daughters & mothers

Amy Engel is the author of The Roanoke Girls and The Book of Ivy series.

A former criminal defense attorney, she lives in Missouri with her family.

Engel's new novel is The Familiar Dark.

At CrimeReads she tagged five of her "favorite novels that tackle the complicated bond between mothers and daughters," including:
Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

When I was a criminal defense attorney, I often represented women who stood by as the men in their lives did horrible things to their children. And almost without fail, these mothers made excuses for the men or blamed their own children for the abuse. I saw it over and over again, and it forever changed the way I view mothers. Not all of them are equipped to want the best for their children or to do whatever it takes to protect them. This book explores that idea and the impact it has on a daughter whose mother chooses a man over her. And it contains one of my favorite lines in all of modern fiction:

“…under that biscuit crust exterior she was all butter grief and hunger.”
Read about another entry on the list.

Bastard Out of Carolina is among six books that inspired Kristen Arnett's first novel, 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

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Pg. 69: Elle Marr's "The Missing Sister"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Missing Sister by Elle Marr.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Paris, her twin sister has vanished, leaving behind three chilling words: Trust no one.

Shayna Darby is finally coming to terms with her parents’ deaths when she’s delivered another blow. The body of her estranged twin sister, Angela—the possible victim of a serial killer—has been pulled from the Seine. Putting what’s left of her life on hold, Shayna heads to Paris. But while cleaning out Angela’s apartment, Shayna makes a startling discovery: a coded message meant for her alone…

Alive. Trust no one.

Taking the warning to heart, Shayna maintains the lie. She makes a positive ID on the remains and works to find out where—and why—her missing sister is hiding. Shayna retraces her sister’s footsteps, and they lead her down into Paris’s underbelly.

As she gets closer to the truth—and to the killer—Shayna’s own life may now be in the balance…
Visit Elle Marr's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Missing Sister.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ed Ruggero's "Blame the Dead," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Blame the Dead by Ed Ruggero.

The entry begins:
Lieutenant Eddie Harkins, the protagonist of Blame the Dead, is a former Philadelphia beat cop investigating the murder of a US Army surgeon in the wake of the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943.

I’d like to see Eddie Harkins played by Lucas Hedges, an Academy Award nominee for Manchester by the Sea. Hedges is about the right age and looks like the kind of All-American kid who—like Eddie Harkins—stepped up to become a citizen soldier when his country needed him. In his role as a closeted gay teen in Ladybird, Hedges’ shows the kind of emotional and moral confusion Harkins exhibits as he investigates the murder of a particularly loathsome victim while dealing with his own personal demons. And because Harkins, a former patrolman, has never been a detective, he is in over his head from the start. Hedges can portray that confusion while still getting across the strong underlying sense of justice that drives Eddie.

Lieutenant Kathleen Donnelly is a US Army nurse who, along with her comrades, contends with heat, dirt, chaos and the constant threat of imminent, violent death as she cares for her patients in a field hospital in war-torn Sicily. Donnelly and Harkins grew up...[read on]
Visit Ed Ruggero's website.

Writers Read: Ed Ruggero.

My Book, The Movie: Blame the Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Isaac Ariail Reed's "Power in Modernity"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Power in Modernity: Agency Relations and the Creative Destruction of the King's Two Bodies by Isaac Ariail Reed.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Power in Modernity, Isaac Ariail Reed proposes a bold new theory of power that describes overlapping networks of delegation and domination. Chains of power and their representation, linking together groups and individuals across time and space, create a vast network of intersecting alliances, subordinations, redistributions, and violent exclusions. Reed traces the common action of “sending someone else to do something for you” as it expands outward into the hierarchies that control territories, persons, artifacts, minds, and money.

He mobilizes this theory to investigate the onset of modernity in the Atlantic world, with a focus on rebellion, revolution, and state formation in colonial North America, the early American Republic, the English Civil War, and French Revolution. Modernity, Reed argues, dismantled the “King’s Two Bodies”—the monarch’s physical body and his ethereal, sacred second body that encompassed the body politic—as a schema of representation for forging power relations. Reed’s account then offers a new understanding of the democratic possibilities and violent exclusions forged in the name of “the people,” as revolutionaries sought new ways to secure delegation, build hierarchy, and attack alterity.

Reconsidering the role of myth in modern politics, Reed proposes to see the creative destruction and eternal recurrence of the King’s Two Bodies as constitutive of the modern attitude, and thus as a new starting point for critical theory. Modernity poses in a new way an eternal human question: what does it mean to be the author of one’s own actions?
Visit Isaac Ariail Reed's website.

The Page 99 Test: Power in Modernity.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten Irish gothic novels

Ruth Gilligan is a writer and academic from Dublin now based in the UK. She has published five books to date and was the youngest person ever to top the Irish Bestsellers’ List.

Her most recent novel, The Butchers, is set in 1996 during the BSE crisis and was published in March 2020.

At the Guardian, Gilligan tagged ten “Irish gothic” offerings from which she drew eerie inspiration for The Butchers, including:
Himself by Jess Kidd (2016)

If all this talk of repressed suffering and hidden wounds is sounding a bit grim, Kidd’s debut manages to be both gothic and great craic. Having grown up in a priest-ridden orphanage, handsome devil Mahony now returns to the small Mayo town of his birth to investigate his mother’s untimely death. The cast of local misfits he encounters are a hoot, as are their predecessors, for Kidd brings to (half) life the town’s quirky legions of ghosts; Mahony charms them all, the living and the dead.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

What is Ed Ruggero reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Ed Ruggero, author of Blame the Dead.

His entry begins:
Ernie Pyle in England by Ernie Pyle

The down-home, just-us-folks style that made Pyle one of the most famous correspondents of World War Two is everywhere apparent in this collection of columns, all written before Pearl Harbor, when England stood alone against Hitler. Pyle had a talent for painting pictures of the common people on whose heads the war fell. What strikes me now, reading this alongside more recently written accounts of the period, is how much Pyle sanitized things. In all his months traveling throughout besieged England and especially bomb-smashed London, he seems to meet no one other than plucky, defiant civilians who are uniformly happy to do their part and offer nothing but praise for isolationist America. Yet subsequent studies show that some people took advantage of the chaos to commit crimes, and certainly there had to be some English man or woman, somewhere, who was miffed that America was letting England fight on alone against the Nazis. Pyle was too sophisticated an observer to miss the tawdry side of England during the Blitz, which makes me...[read on]
About Blame the Dead, from the publisher:
Ed Ruggero's Blame the Dead is the thrilling start of an action-packed and timely World War II series by a former Army Officer for fans of compelling historical fiction.

Set against the heroism and heartbreak of World War II, former Army officer Ed Ruggero brilliantly captures, with grace and authenticity, the evocative and timeless stories of ordinary people swept up in extraordinary times.

Sicily, 1943. Eddie Harkins, former Philadelphia beat cop turned Military Police lieutenant, reluctantly finds himself first at the scene of a murder at the US Army’s 11th Field Hospital. There the nurses contend with heat, dirt, short-handed staffs, the threat of German counterattack, an ever-present flood of horribly wounded GIs, and the threat of assault by one of their own—at least until someone shoots Dr. Myers Stephenson in the head.

With help from nurse Kathleen Donnelly, once a childhood friend and now perhaps something more, it soon becomes clear to Harkins that the unit is rotten to its core. As the battle lines push forward, Harkins is running out of time to find one killer before he can strike again.
Visit Ed Ruggero's website.

Writers Read: Ed Ruggero.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Katy Simpson Smith's "The Everlasting"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Everlasting by Katy Simpson Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
From a supremely talented author comes this brilliant and inventive novel, set in Rome in four different centuries, that explores love in all its various incarnations and ponders elemental questions of good and evil, obedience and free will that connect four unforgettable lives.

Spanning two thousand years, The Everlasting follows four characters whose struggles resonate across the centuries: an early Christian child martyr; a medieval monk on crypt duty in a church; a Medici princess of Moorish descent; and a contemporary field biologist conducting an illicit affair.

Outsiders to a city layered and dense with history, this quartet separated by time grapple with the physicality of bodies, the necessity for sacrifice, and the power of love to sustain and challenge faith. Their small rebellions are witnessed and provoked by an omniscient, time-traveling Satan who, though incorporeal, nonetheless suffers from a heart in search of repair.

As their dramas unfold amid the brick, marble, and ghosts of Rome, they each must decide what it means to be good. Twelve-year old Prisca defiles the scrolls of her father’s library. Felix, a holy man, watches his friend’s body decay and is reminded of the first boy he loved passionately. Giulia de’ Medici, a beauty with dark skin and limitless wealth, wants to deliver herself from her unborn child. Tom, an American biologist studying the lives of the smallest creatures, cannot pinpoint when his own marriage began to die. As each of these conflicted people struggles with forces they cannot control, their circumstances raise a profound and timeless question at the heart of faith: What is our duty to each other, and what will God forgive?
Visit Katy Simpson Smith's website.

Writers Read: Katy Simpson Smith.

My Book, The Movie: The Everlasting.

The Page 69 Test: The Everlasting.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Andrea Freeman's "Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice by Andrea Freeman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Born into a tenant farming family in North Carolina in 1946, Mary Louise, Mary Ann, Mary Alice, and Mary Catherine were medical miracles. Annie Mae Fultz, a Black-Cherokee woman who lost her ability to hear and speak in childhood, became the mother of America's first surviving set of identical quadruplets. They were instant celebrities. Their White doctor named them after his own family members. He sold the rights to use the sisters for marketing purposes to the highest-bidding formula company. The girls lived in poverty, while Pet Milk's profits from a previously untapped market of Black families skyrocketed.

Over half a century later, baby formula is a seventy-billion-dollar industry and Black mothers have the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country. Since slavery, legal, political, and societal factors have routinely denied Black women the ability to choose how to feed their babies. In Skimmed, Andrea Freeman tells the riveting story of the Fultz quadruplets while uncovering how feeding America's youngest citizens is awash in social, legal, and cultural inequalities. This book highlights the making of a modern public health crisis, the four extraordinary girls whose stories encapsulate a nationwide injustice, and how we can fight for a healthier future.
Learn more about Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice at the Stanford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top scary good horror novels

At Bloody Disgusting, Meagan Navarro tagged ten scary good horror novels, including:
The Hunger – Alma Katsu

Everyone is familiar with the ill-fated Donner Party that resorted to cannibalism on the Oregon Trail after a series of mishaps. Katsu takes the well-documented tragedy and gives the historical tale a supernatural horror spin. After introducing a slew of characters in the Donner Party wagon train, the bubbling factions among the group, and a series of early signs of the future derailment, children start to go missing and mutilated bodies of livestock and humans pop up along the way. The group ignores all warning signs of danger, but what is the threat? Is Tamsin Donner truly an evil witch? Are the Native Americans responsible? Or is the land cursed by evil?
Read about another entry on the list.

The Hunger is among Jac Jemc's top ten haunting ghost stories and Mallory O'Meara's top thirteen spine-chilling books written by female authors.

My Book, The Movie: The Hunger.

The Page 69 Test: The Hunger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Coffee with a canine: Kate O’Shaughnessy & Mo

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Kate O’Shaughnessy & Mo.

The author, on how she and Mo were united:
We first spotted Mo’s profile on the website of a local rescue, and were immediately taken by her incredible smile. When we reached out to see if we could meet her, we were told that she was actually a part of their international program—and was located in Taiwan! At first we didn’t feel comfortable adopting a dog without meeting them first, but the rescue continued to send us videos of Mo and we fell increasingly in love with her. Finally, we decided to go for it—and picked her up at the San Francisco airport! It was a rough adjustment—she had a ton of trauma in her past, including abuse, abandonment, and the loss of her puppies—but with a lot of love and patience she’s completely bloomed...[read on]
About O’Shaughnessy's new novel The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane, from the publisher:
Maybelle Lane is looking for her father, but on the road to Nashville she finds so much more: courage, brains, heart–and true friends.

Eleven-year-old Maybelle Lane collects sounds. She records the Louisiana crickets chirping, Momma strumming her guitar, their broken trailer door squeaking. But the crown jewel of her collection is a sound she didn’t collect herself: an old recording of her daddy’s warm-sunshine laugh, saved on an old phone’s voicemail. It’s the only thing she has of his, and the only thing she knows about him.

Until the day she hears that laugh–his laugh–pouring out of the car radio. Going against Momma’s wishes, Maybelle starts listening to her radio DJ daddy’s new show, drinking in every word like a plant leaning toward the sun. When he announces he’ll be the judge of a singing contest in Nashville, she signs up. What better way to meet than to stand before him and sing with all her heart?

But the road to Nashville is bumpy. Her starch-stiff neighbor Mrs. Boggs offers to drive her in her RV. And a bully of a boy from the trailer park hitches a ride, too. These are not the people May would have chosen to help her, but it turns out they’re searching for things as well. And the journey will mold them into the best kind of family–the kind you choose for yourself.
Visit Kate O’Shaughnessy's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Kate O’Shaughnessy & Mo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Katy Simpson Smith's "The Everlasting," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Everlasting by Katy Simpson Smith.

The entry begins:
Ah, the fantasy of seeing words come to life! I don't have strong images of my characters when I write, but let's assume that a director comes calling (one who really gets women; Céline Sciamma, otherwise divine, might be a bit too stark, and Sofia Coppola might be too ethereal, so maybe Greta Gerwig for her sense of humor):

Tom, a biologist, mild-mannered and indecisive and overly vulnerable to romance: Ben Whishaw, Domhnall Gleeson, Tom Hiddleston; is there something about meek nerdiness that only British actors can pull off? All the Americans I know are...[read on]
Visit Katy Simpson Smith's website.

Writers Read: Katy Simpson Smith.

My Book, The Movie: The Everlasting.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: John M. Marzluff's "In Search of Meadowlarks"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: In Search of Meadowlarks: Birds, Farms, and Food in Harmony with the Land by John M. Marzluff.

About the book, from the publisher:
An ornithologist’s personal look at farming practices that finds practical solutions for sustainable food production compatible with bird and wildlife conservation

With predictions of a human population of more than nine billion by the middle of this century and eleven billion by 2100, we stand at a crossroads in our agricultural evolution. In this clear and engaging yet scientifically rigorous book, wildlife biologist John M. Marzluff takes a personal approach to sustainable agriculture.

He travels to farms and ranches across North and Central America, including a Nebraska corn and soybean farm, California vineyards, cattle ranches in Montana, and small sustainable farms in Costa Rica, to understand the unique challenges and solutions to sustainable food production. Agriculture and wildlife can coexist, he argues, if farmers are justly rewarded for conservation; if future technological advancements increase food production and reduce food waste; and if consumers cut back on meat consumption. Beginning with a look backwards at our evolutionary history and concluding with practical solutions for change that will benefit farmers and ranchers, Marzluff provides an accessible and insightful study for the ecologically minded citizen, farmer, rancher, or conservationist.
Learn more about In Search of Meadowlarks at the Yale University Press website.

See: Coffee with a Canine: Colleen and John Marzluff & Reese, Digit and Bellatrix.

The Page 99 Test: Dog Days, Raven Nights.

The Page 99 Test: In the Company of Crows and Ravens.

The Page 99 Test: Gifts of the Crow.

The Page 99 Test: In Search of Meadowlarks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top novels where things disappear

Lincoln Michel is the author of Uiepright Beasts and the co-editor of the forthcoming crime anthology Tiny Crimes.

"The missing person is a classic mystery trope for a good reason," he writes at CrimeReads.
It immediately sets a story in motion while providing for a variety of plot paths. Is the person dead? Kidnapped? Running away? Hiding in plain sight? But people aren’t the only things that disappear in literature. Sometimes it is a vanishing cat or a disappearing novel that gets the story rolling.
One of "eight fantastic and strange novels that each have a unique spin on mysterious disappearances," according to Michel:
Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey

A literary mystery of a different sort, Novey’s first novel, Ways to Disappear, follows a Portuguese translator who flies from Pittsburgh to Brazil to track down a missing author named Beatriz Yagoda. (Novey is an acclaimed translator of several languages.) The fast-paced mystery is mixed with thoughts on writing and translation. It’s a witty and thoughtful book that never loses track of the plot.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Ways to Disappear.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 30, 2020

What is Patricia Marcantonio reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Patricia Marcantonio, author of Felicity Carrol and the Murderous Menace.

Her entry begins:
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

I'm a fan of Margaret Atwood and The Handmaid's Tale so I had to continue the story in The Testaments. Atwood's writing instantly takes you into this brutal world of Gilead. Her female characters are amazing and...[read on]
About Felicity Carrol and the Murderous Menace, from the publisher:
Heiress and amateur detective Felicity Carrol makes a perilous journey to apprehend a notorious murderer who has terrorized England–and now continues his vicious killing spree across the pond.

Felicity Carrol would rather be doing just about anything other than attending balls or seeking a husband. What she really wants to do is continue her work using the latest forensic methods and her photographic memory to help London police bring murderers to justice, so when her friend, Scotland Yard Inspector Jackson Davies, weak from injury, discovers a murder in a wild mining town in Montana that echoes the terrible crimes in England, Felicity decides to go herself.

In Placer, Montana, her first obstacle is handsome lawman Thomas Pike, who uses his intuition as much as his Colt in keeping law and order in this unruly town. When the murderer strikes again, Felicity begins to suspect Davies is correct: Jack the Ripper has come to America. Felicity sets out to find the killer in a town chock full of secrets, shadows, and suspects, but as the body count rises, this intrepid sleuth faces her most dangerous adversary yet–and discovers that not all killers are as they seem.
Visit Patricia Marcantonio's website.

The Page 69 Test: Felicity Carrol and the Murderous Menace.

Writers Read: Patricia Marcantonio.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Taylor Brown's "Pride of Eden"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Pride of Eden: A Novel by Taylor Brown.

About the book, from the publisher:
The enthralling new novel from the acclaimed author of Fallen Land, The River of Kings, and Gods of Howl Mountain

Retired racehorse jockey and Vietnam veteran Anse Caulfield rescues exotic big cats, elephants, and other creatures for Little Eden, a wildlife sanctuary near the abandoned ruins of a failed development on the Georgia coast. But when Anse’s prized lion escapes, he becomes obsessed with replacing her—even if the means of rescue aren’t exactly legal.

Anse is joined by Malaya, a former soldier who hunted rhino and elephant poachers in Africa; Lope, whose training in falconry taught him to pilot surveillance drones; and Tyler, a veterinarian who has found a place in Anse’s obsessive world.

From the rhino wars of Africa to the battle for the Baghdad Zoo, from the edges of the Okefenokee Swamp to a remote private island off the Georgia coast, Anse and his team battle an underworld of smugglers, gamblers, breeders, trophy hunters, and others who exploit exotic game.

Pride of Eden is Taylor Brown's brilliant fever dream of a novel: set on the eroding edge of civilization, rooted in dramatic events linked not only with each character’s past, but to the prehistory of America, where great creatures roamed the continent and continue to inhabit our collective imagination.
Visit Taylor Brown's website.

My Book, The Movie: The River of Kings.

The Page 69 Test: The River of Kings.

Writers Read: Taylor Brown.

My Book, The Movie: Pride of Eden.

The Page 69 Test: Pride of Eden.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Elizabeth Kadetsky's "The Memory Eaters"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Memory Eaters by Elizabeth Kadetsky.

About the book, from the publisher:
On autopsy, the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient can weigh as little as 30 percent of a healthy brain. The tissue grows porous. It is a sieve through which the past slips.

As her mother loses her grasp on their shared history, Elizabeth Kadetsky sifts through boxes of the snapshots, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, and notebooks that remain, hoping to uncover the memories that her mother is actively losing as her dementia progresses. These remnants offer the false yet beguiling suggestion that the past is easy to reconstruct—easy to hold.

At turns lyrical, poignant, and alluring, The Memory Eaters tells the story of a family’s cyclical and intergenerational incidents of trauma, secret-keeping, and forgetting in the context of 1970s and 1980s New York City. Moving from her parents’ divorce to her mother’s career as a Seventh Avenue fashion model and from her sister’s addiction and homelessness to her own experiences with therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, Kadetsky takes readers on a spiraling trip through memory, consciousness fractured by addiction and dementia, and a compulsion for the past salved by nostalgia.
Learn more about the book and author at Elizabeth Kadetsky's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Poison that Purifies You.

The Page 99 Test: The Memory Eaters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books about time

Samantha Harvey is the author of four novels, The Wilderness, All Is Song, Dear Thief and The Western Wind, and of a memoir, The Shapeless Unease. She lives in Bath, UK, and is a Reader in creative writing at Bath Spa University.

At the Guardian, Harvey shared her favorite "books that play with present, past and future," including:
Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. I read it around the same time I read Kant, and it seemed to me a lucid, bright playing out of that subjectivity of time he describes – the way it sticks here and slips there, the way the present is saturated in past and future, the way it contracts and expands. The two protagonists’ experience of a single day is an experience of moments that seem to occupy centuries, and decades that collapse with a single thought. All the while, Big Ben strikes the hour, a metronome that holds all this flux in balance.
Read about another entry on the list.

Mrs. Dalloway also appears on Charlotte Mendelson's list of the best books to help with coming out, Alex Clark's list of the best books set over twenty-hours, Mary Gordon's ten favorite books list, Andrew O'Hagan's six favorite books list, Elizabeth Strout's six favorite books list, Juan Gabriel Vásquez's six favorite books list, Becky Ferreira's list of seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship, Rebecca Jane Stokes's list of seven favorite fictional shopaholics, Suzette Field's top 10 list of literary party hosts, Jennie Rooney's top ten list of women travelers in fiction, John Mullan's list of ten of the best prime ministers in fiction, and among Michael Cunningham's 5 most important books, Dani Shapiro's ten favorite books, and Kate Walbert's best books.

--Marshal Zeringue