Saturday, June 30, 2007
O'Doherty is the author of Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued: A Woman's Guide to Unblocking Creativity. Her popular advice column for writers, “The Doctor Is In,” appears every Friday on MJ Rose’s publishing blog, Buzz, Balls, & Hype.
Her stories, poems, and essays have appeared in Eureka Literary Magazine, Northwest Review, Apalachee Review, Eclectica, Literary Mama, Reflection’s Edge, VerbSap, Carve, Word Riot, Style & Sense, Phoebe, and the anthologies About What Was Lost: Twenty Writers on Miscarriage, Healing, and Hope, It’s a Boy!, The Best of Carve, Volume VI, and Familiar.
Writers Read: Susan O'Doherty.
Writers are better liars than other people: true or false?(Not that I doubt Morgan, but his answer did bring to mind the Epimenides' paradox.)
Well, from personal experience I'd say false. I'm a catastrophic liar, so bad in fact that these days I don't even bother to try. I think the point being missed here is that a good writer isn't lying when they lay out their fiction for you — in the act of writing, you believe in the characters and situations you're creating almost as much as you do the real people around you, and certainly as much as the semi-real people we see on our television screens day to day. You have to, otherwise you couldn't make it matter enough to write it all down (and, no, the money you make from it wouldn't, on its own, be enough to force the issue — well at least it wouldn't for me — and that's the truth, honest!)
Also in the interview, Morgan was invited to "Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise." He named "Essential Reading for Modern Humans: Six Books That Will Change the Way You View the World (Though You May Not Thank Them for It)."
Read the entire Powells.com Ink Q & A with Richard Morgan.
The Page 69 Test: Thirteen.
About the book, from the publisher:
The future isn’t what it used to be since Richard K. Morgan arrived on the scene. He unleashed Takeshi Kovacs – private eye, soldier of fortune, and all-purpose antihero – into the body-swapping, hard-boiled, urban jungle of tomorrow in Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, and Woken Furies, winning the Philip K. Dick Award in the process. In Market Forces, he launched corporate gladiator Chris Faulkner into the brave new business of war-for-profit. Now, in Thirteen, Morgan radically reshapes and recharges science fiction yet again, with a new and unforgettable hero in Carl Marsalis: hybrid, hired gun, and a man without a country ... or a planet.Richard K. Morgan is the acclaimed author of Woken Furies, Market Forces, Broken Angels, and Altered Carbon, a New York Times Notable Book that also won the Philip K. Dick Award.
Marsalis is one of a new breed. Literally. Genetically engineered by the U.S. government to embody the naked aggression and primal survival skills that centuries of civilization have erased from humankind, Thirteens were intended to be the ultimate military fighting force. The project was scuttled, however, when a fearful public branded the supersoldiers dangerous mutants, dooming the Thirteens to forced exile on Earth’s distant, desolate Mars colony. But Marsalis found a way to slip back–and into a lucrative living as a bounty hunter and hit man before a police sting landed him in prison–a fate worse than Mars, and much more dangerous.
Luckily, his “enhanced” life also seems to be a charmed one. A new chance at freedom beckons, courtesy of the government. All Marsalis has to do is use his superior skills to bring in another fugitive. But this one is no common criminal. He’s another Thirteen – one who’s already shanghaied a space shuttle, butchered its crew, and left a trail of bodies in his wake on a bloody cross-country spree. And like his pursuer, he was bred to fight to the death. Still, there’s no question Marsalis will take the job. Though it will draw him deep into violence, treachery, corruption, and painful confrontation with himself, anything is better than remaining a prisoner. The real question is: can he remain sane – and alive – long enough to succeed?
Among the early praise for Thirteen (or Black Man, in the U.K.):
"Richard Morgan writes pumped-up steroid fuelled cyber punk. This is an unashamedly male, rip-roaring boy's own thriller for the 21st century. If Andy McNab ate a year's worth of issues of New Scientist, this is the kind of stuff he might write afterwards. Black Man is kick-ass SF from the hard end of the spectrum."Read Ali Karim's interview with Morgan at The Rap Sheet.
"Brilliantly plotted and unremittingly violent."
--Eric Brown, Guardian
"Since his ferocious debut novel Altered Carbon roared into town, Richard Morgan has been at the forefront of this breed of full-on, edgy science fiction, and his latest tech-noir thriller is also looking dangerously like his best yet. Smart, gripping, and downright indispensable- the search for the best sci-fi thriller of 2007 might just have come to an end..."
"BLACK MAN is exciting and extremely violent but is driven by passionate moral concerns."
--Lisa Tuttle, Times (London)
"Richard Morgan has produced a stunning book with this gritty tech-noir thriller. Exciting and thought-provoking, this is destined to be a science fiction classic."
--Aberdeen Evening Express
The Page 69 Test: Thirteen.
The last book I actually finished was a Paulo Coelho novel, The Zahir. It's an exploration of what it means to find a true-love relationship and then what it means to be able to stay in that. I love the works of Milan Kundera. I'm a huge fan of his writing. I find it, even in translation, to be incredibly poetic and immensely thought provoking.Read more about what Lockhart is watching on TV and listening to.
Friday, June 29, 2007
THE OPENING SENTENCE is hard to beat: “On the same day Umberto Anastasia was killed in New York, a hippopotamus escaped from the zoo in Havana.”
The crucial link between the two events – the first of them real – is the basis of the Cuban-born Mayra Montero’s exuberant Dancing to Almendra (translated by Edith Grossman, Picador, £14.99/offer £13.49), an elegant story of crime and passion set mainly in 1957 Havana, when the city was the glamorous playground of movie stars and elite gangsters.
The narrators, Joaquin, an ambitious young journalist who stumbles on the connection between the hippo and the Mafia, and Yolande, his reminiscing one-armed lover, paint a vivid portrait of a louche, exciting underworld that was soon to disappear.
Read about the other recommended titles.
Need more suggestions? See what the usual suspects at The Rap Sheet suggest.
About the book, from the publisher:
Josie Prescott is settling into her new life in New Hampshire. Her antiques business is thriving, she’s beginning to make some close friends, and her relationship with the local police chief is becoming more interesting. Not bad for someone who has completely uprooted her life as a New York City auction house expert in order to get a fresh start in a small New England town.
With so much suddenly to lose, Josie can’t help but worry when murder invades her seemingly quiet community. Josie is sponsoring the Portsmouth Women’s Guild Annual Black and Gold Gala and is looking forward to receiving a kindly worded thank-you for her efforts. Instead, the Guild representative, Maisy Gaylor, dies a horrible death in the midst of the banquet. Who could have wanted to kill earnest, drab little Maisy? “Funny, isn’t it,” muses the hostile Detective Rowcliff, “how a lot of people end up dead when no one has any enemies.”
Everyone who had access to the wine Maisy drank, including Josie herself, soon comes under suspicion. Can Josie manage to ferret out the truth, keep her business running smoothly, and continue to put down roots in her new town, or will everything prove too much for her to handle on her own?
"Jane K. Cleland’s first mystery, Consigned to Death, was nominated for an Agatha Award for best first novel in 2006 -- I reviewed it and gave it 4½ quills. Deadly Appraisal is a worthy successor.... With great dialogue and description, a strong but insecure heroine and enough inside info about Josie’s business to satisfy an Antiques Roadshow fan – what’s not to like?"Visit Jane Cleland's website and her blog, and read an excerpt from Deadly Appraisal.
--Mystery News, April-May 2007
"Josie is a multifaceted, vulnerable character ... the story is framed with details of the antiques business, and numerous well-developed secondary characters populate the book."
"I love this series. Josie is such a fun character. Even though antiques are not my thing, I really enjoy this antiques mystery series. The mystery is very well crafted and the information about antiques does not hit us over the heads. The author has done a great job of this! I love the New Hampshire setting as well. Great place to set a mystery. I highly recommend this book and the series.""I give this book a 5/5 because it carried the storylines from the previous book very well. I felt like I was coming home and I hope there are more to come. It was wonderfully written and expressed. I loved seeing how things changed and how Josie did get some more confidence. Great series and one I highly recommend....
--Lover of Books Blog, May 2007
The Page 69 Test: Deadly Appraisal.
About the book, from the publisher:
The remarkable Mary Nisbet was the Countess of Elgin in Romantic-era Scotland and the wife of the seventh Earl of Elgin. When Mary accompanied her husband to diplomatic duty in Turkey, she changed history. She helped bring the smallpox vaccine to the Middle East, struck a seemingly impossible deal with Napoleon, and arranged the removal of famous marbles from the Parthenon. But all of her accomplishments would be overshadowed, however, by her scandalous divorce. Drawing from Mary's own letters, scholar Susan Nagel tells Mary's enthralling, inspiring, and suspenseful story in vibrant detail.Among the praise for Mistress of the Elgin Marbles:
"Absorbing ... required reading for anyone interested in cultural history as well as the art of biography."Browse inside Mistress of the Elgin Marbles and read a brief excerpt.
"A unique life related with animation, admiration, and affection but also faithfully and unfancifully."
"A sympathetic and emotionally charged portrait of Mary ... [written] with insight and compassion yet without sentimentality."
"A highly entertaining biography of the alluring Lady Elgin, whose husband notoriously swiped the legendary sculptures from Athens’ Parthenon and shipped them back to England. Nagel’s heroine belongs to my favorite species of aristocratic women — the fearless, headstrong wanderer."
Susan Nagel has written for the stage, the screen, scholarly journals, the Gannett newspaper chain, and Town & Country, and is the author of a critically acclaimed book on the novels of Jean Giraudoux.
The Page 99 Test: Mistress of the Elgin Marbles.
One of his picks:
Heart of Darkness by Joseph ConradRead more about Perry's list.
Marlow recounts his arrival in the hell of the Belgian Congo to run a riverboat. He goes up the river into the interior, becoming more and more convinced that finding the legendary trader Kurtz will somehow help him understand the evil and cruelty he sees around him.
Silence, Perry's new novel, is due out in July.
About the novel, from the publisher:
Six years ago, Jack Till helped Wendy Harper disappear. But now her ex-boyfriend and former business partner, Eric Fuller, is being framed for her presumed murder in an effort to smoke her out, and Till must find her before tango-dancing assassins Paul and Sylvie Turner do.Read an excerpt from Silence.
The Turners are merely hired to do a job, though, and prefer to remain anonymous. When they find that a middleman has let the true employer know their identities, finishing the job is no longer enough. Their fee just went up. And now they must double-cross the man who wants Wendy dead before he can double-cross them — if their jealousy and cold-blooded calculations don’t result in a fatal lovers’ quarrel first.
The Page 99 Test: Thomas Perry's Nightlife.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
His first book is Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping.
Visit Patrick Radden Keefe official website for an excerpt from Chatter and links to his many articles.
The Page 69 Test: Chatter.
Writers Read: Patrick Radden Keefe.
When Marshal asked me to write a blog about my Stella Crown series, giving thought to what actors I would choose for the movie, I had to laugh. Which one of us authors doesn’t dream of our book hitting the big screen? Or even the little screen, these days. Seems like television gets as much play as theaters anymore.The fourth "Stella Crown" mystery, The Day Will Come, is due out in August.
Till the Cows Come Home, the first book in my series, introduced the protagonist – a twenty-nine year old female dairy farmer and HOG enthusiast. She is edgy, brittle, and somewhat foul-mouthed, but also has more likable traits, such as loyalty, honesty, and a solid work ethic. People have often asked me who I’d cast in her role, and the actresses that come to mind are ones who have dared to play characters with a harder personality.... [read on]
Visit Judy Clemens's website and her blog, and read excerpts from all four "Stella Crown" mysteries.
About the book, from the publisher:
The stories in Things Kept, Things Left Behind explore the ambiguities of kept secrets, the tangles of abandoned pasts, and uneasy accommodations. Jim Tomlinson’s characters each face the desire to reclaim dreams left behind, along with something of the dreamer that was also lost. Starkly rendered, these spiraling characters inhabit a specific place and class — small-town Kentucky, working-class America — but the stories, told in all their humor and tragedy, are universal.Among the praise for Things Kept, Things Left Behind:
In each story the characters face conflict, sometimes within themselves, sometimes with each other. Each carries a past and with it an urge to return and repair. In “First Husband, First Wife,” ex-spouses are repeatedly drawn together by a shared history they cannot seem to escape, and they are finally forced to choose between leaving the past or leaving each other. LeAnn and Cass are grown sisters who conspire to help their prideful mother in “Things Kept.” “Prologue” is a voyeuristic journey through the surprisingly different lives of two star-crossed friends, each with its successes and pitfalls, told through their letters over thirty-five years. In “Stainless,” Annie and Warren divide their possessions on the final night of their marriage. Their realtor has advised them to “declutter” the house they are leaving, but they discover that most of the clutter cannot be so easily removed.
The choices are never simple, and for every thing kept, something must be abandoned. Tomlinson’s characters struggle but eventually find their way, often unknowingly, to points of departure, to places where things just might change.
"Tomlinson's tales capture the desires and dreams of small-town, working-class America with heart, humor and a bit of sadness."Jim Tomlinson's fiction and poetry have been published in The Pinch, Five Points, Bellevue Literary Review, Potomac Review, and Arts Across Kentucky magazine. His newest story appears this spring in Shenandoah. He was awarded a 2005 Al Smith Fellowship by the Kentucky Arts Council, a teaching fellowship at Wesleyan Writers Conference, and a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship to the 2006 Sewanee Writers Conference.
"In the tradition of many classic story collections -- from the Deep South back roads of Flannery O'Connor's short masterpieces to the sleepy towns of Huron County, Ontario, found in Alice Munro's exquisite work -- ... deeply rooted in a sense of place. [Tomlinson] skillfully packs suspenseful plot turns into these economical stories."
—New York Times
"Jim Tomlinson's Things Kept, Things Left Behind -- short stories that prove that the best fiction need not be more than sixty pages."
"a book of unusual merit"
—Kirkus (starred review)
“Jim Tomlinson uses the traditional gifts of the writer — love of place, a keen eye for the telling detail, unflagging interest in the human heart — to bring to life a very specific and eye-opening version of America, particularly working-class, rural America. In Things Kept, Things Left Behind, his care for these people and his generosity toward them are evident on every page.”
“In one story within his brilliant debut collection, Jim Tomlinson describes the effect of a headshot to a rabbit’s body, using words that are applicable to the emotional impact I experience when reading his work: ‘startling, paralyzing,’ as he snatches my breath away and leaves me with an ache that is ‘sudden, sharp, and bone-deep.’ With his flawless ear for speech and great compassion and wisdom regarding measures of the human heart, Tomlinson drops us right into lives and situations that mesmerize and stun and shock each and every time. A perfect collection of headshots and heartshots from a gifted first-rate storyteller.”
“Jim Tomlinson’s Things Kept, Things Left Behind is a splendid debut collection of short stories that explores the enduring theme of our quest for an identity. Though deeply connected to the spirit of small towns, these stories reveal aspects of the human condition that have universal resonance. This is an impressive first book in a venerable series by a very talented new voice in American fiction.”
—Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
"Things Kept, Things Left Behind is set in Kentucky, and these are the kinds of stories I love to see written (and strive to write) about my home state: realistic, certainly, but also dignified and tender. My favorites are the two that comprise the book’s title: “Things Kept” and “Things Left Behind.” These linked stories both center on the infidelity of their central character, but Jim writes about this familiar material in surprising and poignant ways. What I also love about these pieces, especially “Things Left Behind,” is their breadth. Here’s a twenty-three page story that does as much work as a novel — that has a novel’s scope and texture, and alternates seamlessly between several points of view, both male and female. But it’s a testament to Jim’s skill that he can just as successfully write the more succinct, “an-afternoon-in-the-life-of” kind of story, and those are in Things Kept, Things Left Behind, as well. The final story, “Stainless,” is such a piece, and it’s masterful.
—Holly Goddard Jones
The Page 69 Test: Things Kept, Things Left Behind.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
About the book, from the author's website:
Walt Longmire has been sheriff of Wyoming's Absaroka County for almost a quarter of a century and has meted out justice with charm and a high-powered sense of humor, but when Walt tags along with good friend Henry Standing Bear on a trip to Philadelphia, he's in for a shock. When a vicious attack on his daughter Cady leaves her near death, Walt discovers that she has unwittingly become embroiled in a deadly political cover-up.
With Henry, Deputy Victoria Moretti, the entire Moretti clan of Philadelphia police officers, and Dog as backup, Sheriff Longmire intends to introduce a little western justice from his saddlebag of tricks to the City of Brotherly Love, where no act of kindness goes unpunished.
Among the praise for Kindness Goes Unpunished:
"Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series ... [is] a true standout. It's a spine-tingling throwback to a tougher era.... And there's more than enough ... action, driven by a very busy plot, to keep you feverishly turning pages and starting with surprise, right up to the final chapter."Craig Johnson's first two Walt Longmire mysteries are The Cold Dish and Death Without Company.
--Karen G. Anderson, January Magazine
"The quick pace and tangled web of interconnected crimes will keep readers turning pages."
"Absaroka County Sheriff Walt Longmire and his sidekick, Henry Standing Bear, aka the Cheyenne Nation, venture to Philadelphia, which duly succumbs. When Standing Bear is invited to travel from Wyoming to the Philadelphia Art Museum to display his vintage photographs, Walt comes along to look in on his daughter Cady, a legal associate about to celebrate her engagement to Devon Conliffe. But after Cady is assaulted and thrown into a coma on the steps of the Franklin Institute, Devon maintains that their relationship was merely casual, although 26 vitriolic messages on her answering machine say otherwise. Barely able to control his fury, Walt begins his own investigation. Together with Standing Bear, his deputy Vic "The Holy Terror" Moretti, and her Philadelphia relatives, he follows the trail of William White Eyes, a pro bono client of Cady's with ties to her almost-fiance, an ADA, and a few local drug distributors of note. The chase circles around Philadelphia's Indian statuary, with pauses at the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, off of which someone throws Devon; a convenient alley, where the ADA gets done in; and Fairmount Park, where the venal tale of drugs, money laundering and cover-up comes to an end. Johnson deftly integrates country and city sensibilities; makes Walt's love and fear for Cady palpable; and casts a droll eye on Walt and romance. Even better than Death Without Company (2006): a must-read for both the tough and the tender-hearted."
--Kirkus, starred review
Read more about Kindness Goes Unpunished, including an excerpt, at Johnson's website.
The Page 69 Test: Kindness Goes Unpunished.
About the book, from the publisher:
A Santa Fe dad shares heartwarming, comic, often ludicrous tales of raising a family in this laugh-out-loud book perfect for anyone who enjoys the edgy humor of David Sedaris or the whimsical commentary of Dave Barry. Waxing both profound and profane on issues close to a father’s heart — from exploding diapers to toddler tantrums, from the horrors of dressing up as Frosty the Snowman to the moments that make a father proud — Robert Wilder brilliantly captures the joys and absurdities of being a parent today.Among the praise for Daddy Needs A Drink:
With an artist wife and two kids — a daughter, Poppy, and a son, London — Robert Wilder considers himself as open-minded as the next man. Yet even he finds himself parentally challenged when his toddler son, London, careens around the house in the buff or asks the kind of outrageous, embarrassing questions only a kid can ask. A high school teacher who sometimes refers to himself jokingly as Mister Mom (when his wife, Lala, is busy in her studio), Wilder shares warmly funny stories on everything from sleep deprivation to why school-sponsored charities can turn otherwise sane adults into blithering and begging idiots.
Whether trying to conjure up the perfect baby name (“Poppy” came to his wife’s mother in a dream) or hiring a Baby Whisperer to get some much-needed sleep, Wilder offers priceless life lessons on discipline, potty training, even phallic fiddling (courtesy of young London). He describes the perils of learning to live monodextrously (doing everything with one hand while carrying your child around with the other) and the joys of watching his daughter morph into a graceful, wise, unique little person right before his eyes.
By turns tender, irreverent, and hysterically funny, Daddy Needs a Drink is a hilarious and poignant tribute to his family by a man who truly loves being a father.
"Wilder's collection is spiced with sharp-eyed but never cruel observations of kids' befuddling behavior and hilarious scatology…. His love for his family comes through without ever seeming cloying…. Capture[s] the absurdity and joy to be found in the most important job a man can do."Robert Wilder's column, “Daddy Needs a Drink,” is published monthly in the Santa Fe Reporter.
—Los Angeles Times
“Robert Wilder’s hilarious and boldly candid essays about the realities of parenting go down like gin and tonic on a hot summer afternoon.”
"More profane, more ironic and at times more touching than a whole stack of well-meaning child-rearing manuals.... Even if your husband or father or brother isn't much of a reader, Daddy Needs a Drink would be sure to make him laugh."
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Daddy Needs a Drink hits you in the face like a fully loaded diaper. These hilarious tales of fatherhood are both shockingly foul and utterly humane. This is a spectacular book - even if you don't have kids and may never want to. If you do have kids, Robert Wilder will make you feel like you aren't the only one screwing it all up."
—Augusten Burroughs, author of Running With Scissors and Magical Thinking
"Robert Wilder doesn't just a need a drink, he deserves one, for writing the funniest, most irreverent book about parenting in recent memory. Daddy Needs a Drink is an affectionate, wickedly observant, unexpectedly tender account of one man's sleepless journey through the brave new world of diapers, toy trains, and very smelly snowman suits."
—Tom Perrotta, author of Election and Little Children
Daddy Needs a Drink is his first book.
Visit Wilder's website to read more about Daddy Needs A Drink, including a few choice excerpts.
The Page 99 Test: Daddy Needs A Drink.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
She harbors a deep obsession for Chinese food, the product of which is The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, a book that explores how Chinese food is all-American, due out in March 2008.
Last week I asked her what she was reading. Read her reply at Writers Read.
Lee tagged fiction and non-fiction, including an acclaimed novel featured at The Page 99 Test, and a work of non-fiction that recently appeared at The Page 69 Test.
The Fortune Cookie Chronicles is currently being edited, so excerpts are not yet available. Lee has this placeholder paragraph until the excerpts are online:
I can tell you that the current draft has chapters on General Tso’s chicken (I meet his family in China!), chop suey (with a new theory on who invented it and why, it’s not the historically bantered-about theory), fortune cookies (surprises galore here), how delivery got started in New York City, why Jews love Chinese food (or as I like to say “Why is chow mein the chosen food of the chosen people?), and the hunt for the greatest Chinese restaurant in the world outside Greater China.Visit the website for The Fortune Cookie Chronicles.
Writers Read: Jennifer 8. Lee.
She told Newsweek about her five most important books.
And about two other books in related categories:
An Important Book I haven't read:
A book I hope parents will read to their children:
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. With his crayon and his imagination, Harold is able to remake the world — a wonderful possibility for 2-year-olds (and their parents) to entertain.
About the book, from the publisher:
What is the biological reason for gossip?Among the praise for Evolution for Everyone:
For laughter? For the creation of art?
Why do dogs have curly tails?
What can microbes tell us about morality?
These and many other questions are tackled by renowned evolutionist David Sloan Wilson in this witty and groundbreaking new book. With stories that entertain as much as they inform, Wilson outlines the basic principles of evolution and shows how, properly understood, they can illuminate the length and breadth of creation, from the origin of life to the nature of religion. Now everyone can move beyond the sterile debates about creationism and intelligent design to share Darwin’s panoramic view of animal and human life, seamlessly connected to each other.
Evolution, as Wilson explains, is not just about dinosaurs and human origins, but about why all species behave as they do — from beetles that devour their own young, to bees that function as a collective brain, to dogs that are smarter in some respects than our closest ape relatives. And basic evolutionary principles are also the foundation for humanity’s capacity for symbolic thought, culture, and morality.
In example after example, Wilson sheds new light on Darwin’s grand theory and how it can be applied to daily life. By turns thoughtful, provocative, and daringly funny, Evolution for Everyone addresses some of the deepest philosophical and social issues of this or any age. In helping us come to a deeper understanding of human beings and our place in the world, it might also help us to improve that world.
"In this age of mounting mistrust between science and religion in American society — especially in America's classrooms — David Sloan Wilson's Evolution for Everyone comes as a breath of fresh air. Without stooping to condemn those whose religious beliefs lead them to reject evolution, Wilson clearly but gently shows how evolution is essential to understanding all aspects of our daily lives. Wilson knows the power of a good story — and most of his 36 chapters are short, riveting accounts of evolution and the scientists who have puzzled out the intricacies, and importance, of understanding evolution in human life. Evolution for Everyone fills a gap in understanding evolution, and will help in the much-needed bridge building across the divide that has threatened educational values in recent years."Learn more about Evolution for Everyone at the publisher's website and read an excerpt.
—Niles Eldredge, Division of Paleontology The American Museum of Natural History New York, New York
"Evolution for Everyone is a remarkable contribution. No other author has managed to combine mastery of the subject with such a clear and interesting explanation of what it all means for human self-understanding. Aimed at the general reader, yet peppered with ideas original enough to engage scholars, it is truly a book for our time. "
—Edward O. Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of On Human Nature
"A mind-stretching and unforgettable synthesis of biology, psychology, religion, and politics, this engrossing story is evolutionary biology at its very best."
—Martin Seligman, author Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness
"There tend to be two types of science books, those for professional scientists and those for the general public. Every once in awhile a book comes along that bridges this gap, and David Sloan Wilson's Evolution for Everyone is just such a book — a well written, page-turning narrative that can be enjoyed by anyone, that also contains original ideas that simply must be read by professional scientists because they push the science forward. I was amazed by how much new ground Wilson covers, how many new ideas he presents, so in this case "everyone" means just that: general readers and professional scientists alike."
–Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, columnist for Scientific American, and the author of Why Darwin Matters
“Evolution for Everyone is tremendous fun. But don't be deceived. David Sloan Wilson is a master biologist, who just happens to be a wonderful story teller.”
–Sarah B. Hrdy, author of Mother Nature
“Wilson does for evolution what Steve Levitt does for economics in his book Freakonomics.... Evolution for Everyone is full of gripping stories about the natural world, related with humor and a rare flair for language.”
—Chicago Sun Times
"With a clear passion for the subject, Wilson shows that understanding evolution is easy, even intuitive — it really is for everyone. If only everyone would read his book."
David Sloan Wilson is Distinguished Professor, Departments of Biology and Anthropology, and Director of EvoS, Binghamton University. Read more about his scholarship and research program.
Learn more about Wilson's decision to become a scientist.
The Page 69 Test: Evolution for Everyone.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Ah, the “casting game.” One of the first contests I ran on my website was a fantasy casting for my first novel, Bitten. At the time, Warner Bros had optioned it, and Angelina Jolie was signed to star. The project died in development, but it was fun while it lasted.Read on for Armstrong's ideas about cast and director.
One thing I learned from that experience was that any casting choice (even hypothetical!) is bound to be controversial among readers. There were lengthy and heated debates on my discussion board about the suitability of Ms. Jolie to the role. At the time, I avoided any prodding to pick my own choices, but for this new novel, I’m going to have some fun and play the game.
Exit Strategy is a crime novel about a contract killer for the Mob who is persuaded to join a small group of her colleagues tracking down a hitman who appears to have turned serial killer.
Learn more about Exit Strategy at Armstrong's website and read the first three chapters online.
No Humans Involved, Armstrong's most recent novel in her "Otherworld" series, hit the New York Times bestseller list this summer.
The Page 69 Test: No Humans Involved.
My Book, The Movie: Exit Strategy.
About the book, from the author's website:
“It’s your choice,” Williams says. “Nice easy one. You get to decide which is worth more to you - your career, or that girl’s life.”
Seven years ago, Cody Williams was the FBI’s prime suspect in a series of horrific New England abductions.
Seven years ago, Alex Rourke put Cody Williams behind bars.
Now Cody Williams is dying. He wants to set the record straight. And he’ll only talk to Alex…
Former FBI agent Rourke has successfully reinvented himself as a private detective, but he’s still haunted by the Williams case. And facing the monster again will mean squaring up to some demons from the past. For Cody has nothing left to lose - and a big final hand to play.
When it appears that one of Cody’s victims, Holly Tynon, might still be alive but still held hostage, Alex is left to make a terrible choice that, either way, will mean the end of at least one life…
The Darkness Inside is the third and darkest installment in the Rourke series, and was deliberately written to be a suitable launching-point for new readers.
Among the praise for the novel:
"[W]ith THE DARKNESS INSIDE Rickards proves he’s getting better with every book. Just as soon as you think you start to have things figured out, Rickards pulls the rug out from under your feet. THE DARKNESS INSIDE never lets up, continuing to raise the stakes to the very end of the book and Rickards is one author who doesn’t pull punches. I felt as physically and emotionally battered as [the novel’s protagonist, FBI Special Agent Alex] Rourke must have been by the time I finished the last page."Rickards shared some of the backstory to the novel at The Rap Sheet.
--Sandra Ruttan, Spinetingler Magazine
"The Darkness Inside is a well constructed thriller with a likeably down to earth protagonist caught up in an increasingly dangerous situation."
--Russel McLean, Crime Scene Scotland
"[A] well plotted, fast-paced slice of modern New England gothic."
--Peter Guttridge, Guardian
Visit John Rickards's website, his MySpace page, and his Crime Space page.
The Page 69 Test: The Darkness Inside.
One children's book made the grade:
The Snail and the Whale by Julia DonaldsonRead more about Brown's list.
About the book, from the author's website:
Esther Gottesfeld is the last living survivor of the notorious 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire and has told her story countless times in the span of her lifetime. Even so, her death at the age of 106 leaves unanswered many questions about what happened that fateful day. How did she manage to survive the fire when at least 146 workers, most of them women, her sister and fiancé among them, burned or jumped to their deaths from the sweatshop inferno? Are the discrepancies in her various accounts over the years just ordinary human fallacy, or is there a hidden story in Esther’s recollections of that terrible day?
Esther’s granddaughter Rebecca Gottesfeld, with her partner George Botkin, an ingenious composer, seek to unravel the facts of the matter while Ruth Zion, a zealous feminist historian of the fire, bores in on them with her own mole-like agenda. A brilliant, haunting novel about one of the most terrible tragedies in early twentieth-century America, Triangle forces us to consider how we tell our stories, how we hear them, and how history is forged from unverifiable truths.
Among the reviews and endorsements for Triangle:
Triangle was selected by Maureen Corrigan on NPR/FRESH AIR as a favorite book of 2006 and was named by the Chicago Tribune as a Best Book of 2006.
“Katharine Weber’s Triangle is a marvel of ingenuity, bridging history and imagination, astonishing musical inventiveness and genuine social tragedy. It is a wide-awake novel as powerful as it is persuasive, probing and capturing human verities.”
“Katharine Weber has always been a brilliant and ingenious formalist; at last she has found a subject deep and durable enough to bear the jeweled precision of her gaze. Here one of our most irresistible writers meets one of the most immovable events of our history. Triangle is an incandescent novel.”
—Madison Smartt Bell
“Triangle is a finely written contemplation of love, memory, terror, music and DNA. Precise and clear-eyed, the novel examines the power of recollection in surviving overwhelming tragedy with both pathos and humanity.”
—Barbara Chase-Riboud, author of Hottentot Venus
“Blending music and memory together in arresting arrangement, Triangle is a unique and poignant tale of the varieties of love and loss.”
—Rebecca Goldstein, author of Mazel and The Mind-Body Problem
"Slippery as an unreliable witness, Triangle maps the gap between memory and history. Out of the most unlikely materials, Katharine Weber has fashioned a generational mystery that plays as both academic farce and real-life tragedy."
Visit Katharine Weber's website and read an excerpt from Triangle.
The Page 99 Test: Triangle.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Last week I asked her what she was reading. Read her reply at Writers Read.
Then visit Lit Lists for her list of five books "that cast a spell, whatever that means."
About the book, from the publisher:
Among the reviews and endorsements for China: Fragile Superpower:
Once a sleeping giant,
today is the world's fastest growing economy -- the leading manufacturer of cell phones, laptop computers, and digital cameras -- a dramatic turn-around that alarms many Westerners. But in China : The Fragile Superpower, Susan L. Shirk opens up the black box of Chinese politics and finds that the real danger lies elsewhere -- not in China 's astonishing growth, but in the deep insecurity of its leaders. China 's leaders face a troubling paradox: the more developed and prosperous the country becomes, the more insecure and threatened they feel. China
Shirk, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for
, knows many of today's Chinese rulers personally and has studied them for three decades. She offers invaluable insight into how they think -- and what they fear. In this revealing book, readers see the world through the eyes of men like President Hu Jintao and former President Jiang Zemin. We discover a fragile communist regime desperate to survive in a society turned upside down by miraculous economic growth and a stunning new openness to the greater world. Indeed, ever since the 1989 pro-democracy protests in China Tiananmen Squareand the fall of communism in the Soviet Union, Chinese leaders have been haunted by the fear that their days in power are numbered. Theirs is a regime afraid of its own citizens, and this fear motivates many of their decisions when dealing with the and other foreign nations. In particular, the fervent nationalism of the Chinese people, combined with their passionate resentment of U.S. and attachment to Japan , have made relations with these two regions a minefield. It is here, Shirk concludes, in the tangled interactions between Taiwan , Japan , Taiwan , and the China , that the greatest danger lies. United States
Shirk argues that rising powers such as
tend to provoke wars in large part because other countries mishandle them. Unless we understand China 's brittle internal politics and the fears that motivate its leaders, we face the very real possibility of avoidable conflict with China . This book provides that understanding. China
"Shirk's depth of knowledge about China - including personal acquaintance with many of its leaders - makes this book a valuable read."Susan Shirk is director of the
--Christian Science Monitor
"Susan Shirk has written the definitive book at the right time. For those seeking an objective look at the new China, your search is over. The bonus is that Fragile Superpower is as fascinating as it is informative. A great accomplishment."
--Madeleine K. Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State
"Now more than ever we need a realistic approach for dealing with China's rising power. Susan Shirk has an insider's grasp of China's politics and a firm understanding of what makes its leaders tick. China: Fragile Superpower is an important and necessary book."
--Brent Scowcroft, former U.S. National Security Advisor
"Although other problems dominate the news today, a rising China presents America's greatest long-term challenge. Susan Shirk's excellent book argues compellingly that it also poses the greatest challenge to China's leaders. How they meet this challenge affects not only China, but also the U.S. and, indeed, the world."
--William J. Perry, former U.S. Secretary of Defense
"Susan Shirk's lively and perceptive book examines the constraints on Chinese foreign policy in an era of rapid socio-economic change. Shirk brings a wealth of experience as an astute observer of Chinese politics and as a practitioner of track I and II diplomacy toward China to illuminate the relationship between domestic legitimacy dilemmas and foreign security dilemmas."
--Alastair Iain Johnston, The Laine Professor of China in World Affairs, Harvard University
During 1997-2000, Dr. Shirk served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs, with responsibility for the People’s Republic of
She founded in 1993 and continues to lead the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD), an unofficial “track-two” forum for discussions of security issues among defense and foreign ministry officials and academics from the
Dr. Shirk’s other publications include her books, How China Opened Its Door: The Political Success of the PRC’s Foreign Trade and Investment Reforms; The Political Logic of Economic Reform in China; and Competitive Comrades: Career Incentives and Student Strategies in China.
Read a Q & A about China: Fragile Superpower with the author at the OUP blog.
About the book, from the publisher:
For nearly thirty years, Jeffrey B. Russell’s authoritative book has been the one illustrated history to which anyone interested in this subject could turn with confidence. Now, in collaboration with Brooks Alexander, who has himself conducted innovative research in the field, this classic book has been fully revised, with an updated introduction and bibliography, new information throughout, and an extended account of witchcraft from ancient times to the present day.
Drawing comparisons between modern sorcery and that of the ancient world, the book shows how the European witch craze in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries developed out of a combination of ancient sorcery and medieval Christian heresy, paganism, folklore, scholastic theology, and inquisitorial trials. Whether the diabolical witchcraft for which men and women went to the stake ever existed is open to question. What matters more is that it was believed to exist by intellectuals and peasants alike.
Among the praise for the book:
"It separates centuries of supernatural nonsense from documented fact ... spellbinding."Jeffrey Burton Russell is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara and author of at least seventeen books. His five-volume history detailing the concept of the Devil is recognized by scholars as the definitive text on the subject. Brooks Alexander is the author of Witchcraft Goes Mainstream and has written numerous articles on witchcraft and neo-paganism and their effect on contemporary religious movements.
Times Los Angeles
“Good stuff … a useful classic updated for witchcraft aficionados.”
The Page 99 Test: A History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics, Pagans.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
There is much more, so read on.
Here's Ian Rankin's entry:
A few years back, my wife and I headed off on a rare holiday without our two sons. My brother-in-law was a diplomat stationed in Nairobi, and we were going to stay with his family for a few days, then embark on a couple of five-day safaris. My wife and elder son had done the same thing the previous year, so I was forewarned: out in the bush, facilities are limited. We would be packing insect-repellent, torches and plenty of batteries. With the prospect of a publess, tellyless two weeks, I started looking for a big fat book to take along. I had the notion of rereading Bleak House, but couldn't find it amid the clutter in my study and was determined not to buy a duplicate copy. Instead, I decided it was time to tackle Tolstoy's War and Peace. The first couple of hundred pages certainly filled the Heathrow-Nairobi flight, but while I enjoyed it, I wasn't so sure about that "greatest ever novel" tag. Tolstoy is good on the upper classes, great at set-pieces, but I found few characters from the lower orders in the story - something separating him straight away from Dickens. Mind you, Dickens wasn't a Count.
War and Peace really came into its own, however, as we lay down to sweat the night away at sundown. My wife had bought me the sort of torch cyclists sometimes use. It could be attached around the head by a strap. This made it the perfect reading companion. Miranda would get me to read bits aloud, especially the lengthy, realistic descriptions of deep Russian winters and the frostbite suffered by the Napoleonic soldiers. The various tents and lodges we slept in didn't run to air conditioning, but here was a worthwhile alternative. By day we had plenty of adventures and misadventures (the near-submersion of our vehicle in a flood being the least of them), and one evening were left to dine alone at a candlelit dinner-table, interrupted only by the roar of a lion in the near-distance. We retreated to our lodge and I strapped my reading-light on again, ready with the next chapter. By the end of the fortnight I'd finished the book. Probably not many people associate War and Peace with the heart of sweltering Africa, but I do.
Now comes news that Clive Owen will take on the role of Philip Marlowe in an adaptation of a Chandler short story.
The Rap Sheet's editor J. Kingston Pierce, who has been on the story for some time, has fresh details on this production. Read on.
About the book, from the publisher:
Sometimes the dead live on in your dreams ... at least that's true for Roy Valois. His wife, Delia, died fifteen years earlier while working for a private think tank and he has never forgotten her. Roy is a well-known sculptor in the art world. His newest piece, a magnificent creation he calls Delia, has just been finished, a sign that he's found a little closure at last.Among the praise for Nerve Damage:
Then Roy gets some news of the grimmest kind. It's the kind of news that forces thoughts in unexpected directions, such as the contents of one's obituary. Roy and his lawyer, a close friend, find themselves wondering whether Roy's obituary will mention a big goal he scored in college hockey. Roy's friend suggests that they could probably find out. With some help, they hack into the morgue files of the New York Times. There's no mention of the goal, but something else about his obituary bothers Roy. According to the New York Times, his wife was working for the United Nations when she died — not the think tank.
At first, Roy thinks it's a simple mistake, but when a conversation with the writer of his obituary fails to clear things up, he suspects something more. The deeper he digs, the more confusing his wife's past becomes. Delia's former colleagues deny ever knowing her, the building that housed the think tank has supposedly served as the offices for another organization for decades, and Roy can't find any records of its existence. Who was Delia? Who did she work for? How did she really die? Did she really die? With time running out, a desperate Roy won't stop until he knows the truth about the woman he can't stop loving.
"From the reliably marvelous Peter Abrahams comes Nerve Damage, another top-drawer psychological thriller."
- Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly
"I swear, if one more literary person says in that oh-so-condescendng tone, 'Oh, I don't read ... mysteries,' I'm going to take a novel by Peter Abrahams and smack him on his smug little head."
- Michele Ross, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"The care with which Abrahams brings his characters to life sets him apart from most thriller writers working today."
- The New Yorker
"gripping ... the action and suspense are first rate."
- Publishers Weekly
"...gripping, captivating, and so well written."
- Library Journal
Visit Peter Abrahams's website and browse inside Nerve Damage.
The Page 69 Test: Nerve Damage.
He selected five books that "excel in their portraits of Germany and the German people" for Opinion Journal.
One title to make the list:
Read about the book that topped Ozment's list.
The Origins of Modern Germany by Geoffrey Barraclough (Blackwell, 1946).
In a robust history of the German Middle Ages, Geoffrey Barraclough traces Germany's geographic and political fragmentation over 12 centuries (800-1939). It turns out that the most difficult problem in German history was not the rise of National Socialism, whose existence (1920-45) was relatively brief, but the long struggle to arrive at political unity and, eventually, representative government. The failure of Germans to unify their medieval empire, according to Barraclough, is "a story of discontinuity, of development cut short, of incompleteness and retardation." It was only with German reunification in 1990 that the problem was solved, and by the formula that Barraclough prescribed: "a limited democratic Germany within historic boundaries."
Friday, June 22, 2007
Her account opens:
I was at the winter meeting of the ALA in Seattle in January, where I had breakfast with Nancy Pearl and Talia Ross, my publisher’s (Holtzbrinck) library marketing manager. I was telling the two of them about a science fiction lit workshop I would be teaching at the Kenai Public Library in March, and how I was using classics (H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy, the Heinlein juveniles, Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, Sheri Tepper’s The Gate to Women’s Country) in my syllabus and very few new books because I hadn’t read a lot of new sf or fantasy that I liked.Dana Stabenow is the author of fifteen novels in her "Kate Shugak" series, three Liam Campbell mysteries, three science-fiction novels, and a stand-alone novel.
Well. That was a mistake.... [read on]
Visit Stabenow's official website and her Amazon blog.
The Page 69 Test: A Deeper Sleep.
Writers Read: Dana Stabenow.