Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pg. 69: Peter Behrens' "The Law of Dreams"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Peter Behrens' The Law of Dreams.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Law of Dreams tells the story of a young man's epic passage from innocence to experience during The Great Famine in Ireland of 1847.

On his odyssey through Ireland and Britain, and across the Atlantic to “the Boston states,” Fergus is initiated to violence, sexual heat, and the glories and dangers of the industrial revolution. Along the way, he meets an unforgettable generation of boy soldiers, brigands, street toughs and charming, willful girls – all struggling for survival in the aftermath of natural catastrophe magnified by political callousness and brutal neglect.

Peter Behrens transports the reader to another time and place for a deeply-moving and resonant experience. The Law of Dreams is gorgeously written in incandescent language that unleashes the sexual and psychological energies of a lost world while plunging the reader directly into a vein of history that haunts the ancestral memory of millions in a new millennium.
Among the praise for the novel:
"Peter Behrens' superb The Law of Dreams is an emotional epic done in shadow-show, a lucid dream of the past, bearing echoes of Melville and Ondaatje, conveying scents and shimmers of a vanished world under the skin of our own."
— Jonathan Lethem

". . . absorbing, unsparing and beautifully written ... a masterly novel."
— Kevin Baker, New York Times Book Review

"Behrens’s impressive, swiftly paced saga tracks the life of an Irish boy after his family dies during the Great Potato Famine.... In scope and subject, Behrens’s work recalls Liam O’Flaherty’s epic novel “Famine”; both writers have a stark style admirably suited to conveying the horrors of starvation and despair. But Behrens’s language also has a visceral rhythm, and his similes meld the humble with the lyrical: whales rise “hissing” in a river, light “stutters” off an iron roof."
The New Yorker

"A portrait of desire rendered in darkly lyric tones. Peter Behrens is a highly gifted conjurer; the past he evokes is as mythic as it is historic, as seductive as it is nightmarishly, gorgeously real."
— Heidi Julavits

"This book is a beautifully written, poetically inspired tale of heroism, love, yes and sex, and the triumph of the human spirit over murderous greed. It's a long road that Behrens makes shorter with many a surprising turn. The Law of Dreams is one great book. I stayed up into the wee hours to finish it. I envy you this journey."
— Malachy McCourt
Peter Behrens' collection of short stories, Night Driving, was published in 1987. His stories and essays have appeared in Tin House, Brick, Best Canadian Stories, Best Canadian Essays, the Atlantic Monthly, and many anthologies. After his first story published in the US appeared in the Atlantic Monthly and was optioned in Hollywood he began to work as a professional screenwriter. The Law of Dreams is his first novel.

Visit Peter Behrens' website and read an excerpt from The Law of Dreams.

The Page 69 Test: The Law of Dreams.

--Marshal Zeringue

Anthony Holden's list: poker books

Last week at The Week magazine, Anthony Holden, author of Bigger Deal: A Year Inside the Poker Boom, named "The List."

One of his titles:

The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King by Michael Craig

This page-turner by a lawyer turned poker nut chronicles the biggest game ever played, a 2001 showdown in which a Texas banker played a team of pros for tens of millions of dollars.
Read about another poker title that Holden calls "the finest poker novel since Richard Jessup’s The Cincinnati Kid."

James McManus, author of Positively Fifth Street, says Holden's "Bigger Deal will make nonprofessional poker addicts feel personally understood in ways no other book has ever managed to do. It has everything: wide cultural scope, poker table minutiae, success, failure, pain, Mozart operas sharing pages with telling analyses of flop texture, even more intercontinental action than its famous predecessor, and best of all, perspective on the Boom. No, best of all is the writing." And Martin Amis calls "Holden ... the top writer in pokerdom."

Read an excerpt from Bigger Deal.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Judith Cutler's "Cold Pursuit"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Judith Cutler's Cold Pursuit.

About the book, from the publisher:

When a colleague becomes seriously ill, Chief Superintendent Frances Harman has to delay her impending retirement to oversee an investigation into a recent spate of ‘happy slappings’ and minor assaults in the Kent area. Initially, she begrudgingly takes a back seat in the case, but it is not long before she is once again perilously close to the action.

The wave of assaults has ignited a media furore and Fran is concerned that an unnecessary atmosphere of mass hysteria is being generated in the area. She soon finds herself having to spend as much time trying to control the media as trying to catch the criminals. However, the local reporter that initially broke the story, Dilly Pound, may have personal reasons for taking such an avid interest in the case.

As the crimes gradually escalate and the line between ‘happy slapping’ and serious sexual assault becomes blurred, all mention of retirement is postponed until Fran can resolve the nightmare that has enveloped around her.

Among the praise for Judith Cutler's novels:

"The fresh and lively style of Judith Cutler`s writing always appeals and I look forward to the next one."
--Bernard Knight

"In Cutler… we are undoubtedly dealing with the crème de la crème."
--The Times

"Judith Cutler writes so well that she could make the Telephone Book enthralling reading, as her wit and perspicacity make every page a delight."
--Tangled Web
Judith Cutler is a prolific U.K.-based crime novelist. Among her books are one series featuring amateur sleuth Sophie Rivers and another starring Detective Sergeant Kate Power.

Cold Pursuit is the second novel featuring Fran Harman, a Detective Chief Superintendent from Kent.

Cutler's short story “Shaping the Ends,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (May 2006), has been nominated for a 2007 Barry Award.

Read more about Cold Pursuit and Judith Cutler's other writing.

The Page 99 Test: Cold Pursuit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 30, 2007

Pg. 69: Jacquelyn Mitchard's "Still Summer"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Jacquelyn Mitchard's Still Summer.

About the book, from the author's website:
When four friends who ruled the school twenty years ago gather for an idyllic sailing vacation – meant to comfort Olivia, who has returned home a widow after twenty years abroad – they expect two weeks of gossip, sunbathing and drinks with little umbrellas.

Instead, two days into their crossing, a single small mistake turns paradise a sun-baked hell.

The same elements that combined to make this trip an adventure in paradise combine in for survival. Surrounded by water, but with almost none to drink, with refrigerators filled with gourmet food rotting before they can used it, and a deluxe communication system ruined in an instant, the women must hide from the punishing sun and use all their strength and intelligence to try to outwit nature, their own demons and human predators.

What happens when friendship must face the ultimate test? Does the better nature prevail or is it everyone for herself?
Among the early praise for Still Summer:
"Still Summer is a finely written tale you will not be able to put down, but it is also an insightful and moving exploration of the nature of enduring friendship between women. What happens when these ties are put to the most severe test? What happens when fate sets us adrift in lethal waters under a merciless sun? With her characteristic generosity, intelligence, and warmth, Jacquelyn Mitchard illuminates this central question in an utterly compelling novel you will not soon forget!"
—Andre Dubus III

"Jacquelyn Mitchard is a master at laying bare the souls of her characters, and in Still Summer, she gives us four unforgettable women who must fight to survive. Slowly and expertly, Mitchard ratchets up the tension in this pulse-pounding tale of courage, betrayal, and high-seas terror."
—Tess Gerritsen, author of The Mephisto Club
Read an excerpt from Still Summer and visit Mitchard's website, her blog, and the Still Summer MySpace page.

Jacquelyn Mitchard's novels include The Most Wanted, A Theory of Relativity, Twelve Times Blessed, The Breakdown Lane, Cage of Stars, and The Deep End of the Ocean, the first novel selected for the book club made famous by the TV host Oprah Winfrey.

The Page 69 Test: Still Summer.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is George Packer reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: George Packer, a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of five books: two novels, The Half Man and Central Square, and three books of non-fiction, The Village of Waiting, Blood of the Liberals, and The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq. He is also the editor of The Fight Is for Democracy: Winning the War of Ideas in America and the World.

About The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq, from the publisher:
The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq recounts how the United States set about changing the history of the Middle East and became ensnared in a guerilla war in Iraq. It brings to life the people and ideas that created the Bush administration’s war policy and led America to the Assassins’ Gate — the main point of entry into the American zone in Baghdad. The consequences of that policy are shown in the author’s brilliant reporting on the ground in Iraq, where he made four tours on assignment for The New Yorker. We see up close the struggles of American soldiers and civilians and Iraqis from all backgrounds, thrown together by a war that followed none of the preconceived scripts.

The Assassins' Gate also describes the place of the war in American life: the ideological battles in Washington that led to chaos in Iraq, the ordeal of a fallen soldier’s family, and the political culture of a country too bitterly polarized to realize such a vast and morally complex undertaking. George Packer’s first-person narrative combines the scope of an epic history with the depth and intimacy of a novel, creating a masterful account of America’s most controversial foreign venture since Vietnam.
Read an excerpt from The Assassins' Gate.

Packer writes about foreign affairs, politics, and books for The New Yorker's Interesting Times blog.

See what Packer has been reading at Writers Read: George Packer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Most important books: Natasha Trethewey

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey recently told Newsweek about her five most important books.

And addressed two other book-related issues:
A Certified Important Book you still haven't read:

War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy.
It's ridiculous that I haven't read it, because it was the book my father was reading when he chose to name me Natasha.

A classic that, upon rereading, disappointed:

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.
Don't get me wrong, it's such an important book, and the last lines of it are so wonderful, but it's not exactly an enjoyable read.

Read about Trethewey's most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mike Doogan's "Lost Angel," the movie

The current feature at My Book, The Movie: Mike Doogan's Lost Angel and Capitol Offense.

Mike Doogan's first novel, Lost Angel, has been nominated for a Shamus Award by the Private Eye Writers of America. His second, Capitol Offense, is due in August. A third is scheduled for release in the coming year.

All feature Detective Nik Kane.

The Thrilling Detective
described Nik Kane:

Alaska's own Nik Kane is a former Anchorage, Alaska cop who has fallen from grace. With twenty-five years of service under his belt, fifteen of them as a detective, who was sent to prison, where he served seven years in prison following a false conviction. Now free, he's seeking to redeem himself by working as a private eye

He's alternately helped and hindered in his quest by his wisecracking sometime-partner, Tlingit cabbie Cocoa Paul, and his estranged son Dylan.

Doogan calls Kane a "battered, violent, uncertain hero."

See which actor the author sees as his central character.

Read more about Mike Doogan and his writing, including excerpts from Lost Angel and Capitol Offense, at his website.

My Book, The Movie: Lost Angel and Capitol Offense.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Deborah Moggach's "Tulip Fever"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Deborah Moggach's Tulip Fever.

About the book, from the publisher:
A tale of art, beauty, lust, greed, deception and retribution -- set in a refined society ablaze with tulip fever.

In 1630s Amsterdam, tulipomania has seized the populace. Everywhere men are seduced by the fantastic exotic flower. But for wealthy merchant Cornelis Sandvoort, it is his young and beautiful wife, Sophia, who stirs his soul. She is the prize he desires, the woman he hopes will bring him the joy that not even his considerable fortune can buy.

Cornelis yearns for an heir, but so far he and Sophia have failed to produce one. In a bid for immortality, he commissions a portrait of them both by the talented young painter Jan van Loos. But as Van Loos begins to capture Sophia's likeness on canvas, a slow passion begins to burn between the beautiful young wife and the talented artist.

As the portrait unfolds, so a slow dance is begun among the household's inhabitants. Ambitions, desires, and dreams breed a grand deception -- and as the lies multiply, events move toward a thrilling and tragic climax.

In this richly imagined international bestseller, Deborah Moggach has created the rarest of novels -- a lush, lyrical work of fiction that is also compulsively readable. Seldom has a novel so vividly evoked a time, a place, and a passion.
Among the praise for Tulip Fever:
"Sumptuous prose ... reads like a thriller."
--New York Times Book Review

"An artful novel in every sense of the word ... deftly evokes 17th-century Amsterdam's vibrant atmosphere."
--Los Angeles Times

“A sumptuous and enthralling novel about art, love, illusion and money … with the denouement of a classic.”
--Times (London)

"Need a brief escape into a beautiful and faraway world? Deborah Moggach's wonderful Tulip Fever can offer you that."
--New York Post

"Taut with suspense and unexpected revelations."
--Entertainment Weekly

"Elegantly absorbing."
--The Philadelphia Inquirer
Deborah Moggach is the author of 16 novels and two collections of short stories as well as, most recently, an adaptation of the Diary of Anne Frank for the BBC.

Visit Deborah Moggach's website, and read an excerpt from Tulip Fever.

The Page 99 Test: Tulip Fever.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 28, 2007

What is Trinie Dalton reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Trinie Dalton, author of the short story collection Wide Eyed (Akashic) and co-editor of Dear New Girl Or Whatever Your Name Is (McSweeney’s), a book based on her archive of confiscated high school notes.

Her last appearance here on the blog was to apply The Page 69 Test to Wide Eyed.

Dalton's new book, A Unicorn is Born, is due out in November 2007.

Writers Read: Trinie Dalton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best: history of assassinations

George Fetherling, a Canadian novelist and poet and author of The Book of Assassins, selected a five best "works that excel in tracking the unsettling history of assassinations" list for Opinion Journal.

One title on the list:
Royal Murders by Dulcie M. Ashdown

Motives for assassination vary from one era to the next and from one culture to another. Perhaps the biggest change in the bloody history of assassination followed the revolutions in France and America and the rise of republicanism, which made regicide largely obsolete. Such at least is the message to be inferred from "Royal Murders," Dulcie M. Ashdown's 1,000-year survey of the murders of European rulers. Ashdown is known in Britain as a genial writer on such subjects as the queen mother, the princess of Wales and royal matters generally. It is a careful book of broad range that avoids sensationalism. It is strongest when dealing with long-ago assassinations, such as the shooting of King Gustav III of Sweden at a masked ball in 1792. Ashdown's revision of the text in 2000 dulled the sharp focus somewhat -- the first edition is preferable.
Read more about Fetherling's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Hanna Diamond's "Fleeing Hitler"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Hanna Diamond's Fleeing Hitler: France 1940.

About the book, from Oxford University Press:
As Hitler's victorious armies approached Paris, panic gripped the city and the roads heading south filled with millions of French citizens, fleeing for their lives, with scant supplies and often no destination in mind. All hoped, as famed author Simone de Beauvoir wrote in her diary, "not to be taken like a rat in Occupied Paris."

In Fleeing Hitler, historian Hanna Diamond paints a gripping picture of the harrowing escape from Paris, highlighting the hardships people suffered in their desperate flight, and underscoring the impact this exodus had on life under Vichy rule. Using eyewitness accounts, memoirs, and diaries, Diamond shows how this ordeal became for civilians and soldiers alike the defining experience of the war. She tells how, in the Paris region alone, close to four million people left their homes and fled south, swelling the numbers of refugees until is was impossible to direct the flow of humanity. The result was total chaos with an enormous price to pay in terms of human misery and suffering. Many lost their lives as this vast caravan of predominantly women, children, and the elderly faced truly harsh conditions, and even starvation. Then, after the German offer of peace, as the traumatized population returned home, preoccupied by the desire for safety and bewildered by the unexpected turn of events, they put their faith in Marshall Petain, who was able to establish his collaborative Vichy regime largely unopposed, while the Germans consolidated their occupation.

The first time this important story has been told in the English, Fleeing Hitler captures in moving detail the devastating flight and early days of occupation after the fall of France.
Among the early praise for Fleeing Hitler:
"A fascinating story, rich in biblical drama, and one that has not been previously told in English. [Diamond] is excellent at describing the political machinations that culminated in Paul Reynaud's resignation ... [a] valuable book."
--Walter Cook, Tribune

"Gripping reading."
--Max Hastings, Sunday Times

"Hanna Diamond...tells the story vividly and even-handedly. [This] book benefits greatly from the vast number of eyewitness memoirs."
--Allan Massie, Literary Review

"A vivid and poignant account... a forgotten moment of the devastation of war brought to life."
--Robert Gildea, author of Marianne in Chains

"Diamond has an excellent eye for the striking detail ... as a work of history, this book is an invaluable account of the fall of France, seen through the lens of the sufferings of its citizens."
--Carmen Callil, Financial Times

"For many French people in 1940, the arrival of the German army meant 'the collapse of civilization.' Seven decades later, the specifics of that collapse are largely forgotten; this book is a remedy. Diamond's book ably addresses these long-ago events, which merit remembrance."
--Kirkus Reviews
Read Diamond's account at the OUP blog about "how difficult it was to get into the French psyche" even though she has lived and taught in Paris for many years and has spent her career researching the lives of the French people.

Hanna Diamond is Senior Lecturer in French History and European Politics at the University of Bath. Read about her other publications and research.

The Page 69 Test: Fleeing Hitler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 27, 2007

Top 10 tales of metamorphosis

Thomas Bloor named a "top ten tales of metamorphosis" list for the Guardian.

Number 9 on the list:
The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Not a supernatural event, more a Nietzschien transformation. Buck is changed from flabby house dog into the feared leader of a pack of wolves in the Alaskan wilderness. And the metamorphosis doesn't quite end; the closing paragraphs hinting at a further transformation as the living, breathing animal becomes the subject of a local legend and thus acquires a form of immortality.
Read more about Bloor's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Alfred Molina reading?

Alfred Molina, the actor who played Bishop Manuel Aringarosa in The Da Vinci Code and Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2, talked to the Christian Science Monitor about what he's been watching on television and at the movies, and listening to on vinyl and satellite radio.

And reading:

I'm reading a wonderful biography of Graham Greene, written by Norman Sherry. [Greene is] a perfect example of that ambiguous nature of creative people. When I first read Greene back in England, our English master gave us a whole book list of things to read by the end of the year and one was an early Greene work Stamboul Train. I've been a fan ever since.
Read more about what Molina is watching and listening to.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ken Kuhlken's "The Do-Re-Mi"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Ken Kuhlken's The Do-Re-Mi.

About the book
, from the publisher:

It's late summer, 1972, up in California's redwood forests. They seem a "safe and wondrous place," but some of Evergreen's population is growing pot up in the trees and others are bent on stealing it. Then there's the coming folk festival, a jamboree bringing in musicians, fans, war protesters -- a ferment of flower power (the local hippies), raw power (the local biker gangs, notably the Cossacks), and the power of the law (local and federal). Skirting the edges are shades of the Manson Family and the Mexican Mafia.

Clifford Hickey, scheduled to perform a guitar gig at the festival before trucking off to law school, arrives at his brother Alvaro's peaceful woodland campsite. And within moments Alvaro, combat trained, is faced with six armed men in badges crashing the camp, and runs. Clifford, surprised, is arrested and brutally cuffed, so brutally he fears for his hands. He then learns that a young man, one of the sheriffs' nephews, has just been murdered. Alvaro is the posse's quarry.

So here's Clifford, on the brink of adult life, pitched into not just a murder but what develops into a duel between the Hickeys -- for his father and mother soon drive up -- and the law, between the Hickeys and the Cossacks -- who seemingly have their own agenda for Alvaro and, between the Hickeys and the locals, and finally between the Hickeys and their own past.

Among the praise for The Do-Re-Mi:

"...thoughtful and exciting.... Among its other virtues, it captures summer 1972 and its motley crew -- outlaw bikers, war protestors, marijuana growers and users -- to understated perfection."
-- Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune

"Kuhlken's fourth mystery to feature the endearing Hickey clan ... brings the social and cultural scene of the period vividly to life."
-- Publishers Weekly

"Colorful characters and a compelling storyline with the right amount of suspense will keep readers guessing."
-- Library Journal

"Readers will enjoy this tale, which captures the history and atmosphere of 1970s California as well as the complex dynamics of a fascinating family."
-- Booklist

“Kuhlken revisits the Hickey family in a tale as sensitive and heartfelt as it is action-packed.... Lying fallow hasn't hurt the Hickeys, who've only become more introspective and complex.... Crime, punishment and redemption. Kuhlken's best.”
-- Kirkus

"...along with the interplay between the characters, the poignant comments and the laugh-out-loud one-liners, The Do-Re-Mi contains more than a trace of the bitter aftertaste that the Summer of Love and the promise of the 1960s not only failed to pan out, but left America in the throes of the confusion and paranoia of the 70s."
-- Stephen Miller, January Magazine
Ken Kuhlken’s stories have appeared in Esquire and other magazines.

His novels include: Midheaven, chosen as finalist for the Ernest Hemingway Award for best first novel; The Loud Adios, a Tom Hickey story set in 1943, winner of the St. Martin's Press/PI Writers of America Best First PI Novel award; The Venus Deal, a Tom Hickey mystery set in 1942; and The Angel Gang, a Tom Hickey novel set in 1949.

The Do-Re-Mi, a Clifford and Tom Hickey mystery set in 1971, has been named a finalist for the 2006 Shamus Award.

Visit Kuhlken's website to learn more about The Do-Re-Mi and read an excerpt.

The Page 99 Test: The Do-Re-Mi.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What is Kenneth Gross reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Kenneth Gross, author, most recently, of Shylock Is Shakespeare. He is Professor of English at the University of Rochester, and his other books include Spenserian Poetics: Idolatry, Iconoclasm, and Magic (1985), The Dream of the Moving Statue (1992), and Shakespeare’s Noise (2001).

Among his current and recent reading:
There are two new books on Shakespeare, both remarkable for ways they draw Shakespeare whole, as a maker, a shaping intelligence. One is Kenneth Burke on Shakespeare, shrewdly edited by Scott Newstok, which gathers published and unpublished writings on Shakespeare’s plays by Burke. It shows him probing the idea of Shakespeare as a relentless rhetorical schemer and man of the theater. “What he believed in above all was the glory of his trade itself, which is to say, the great humaneness of the word, and the corresponding search through the range of all its aptitudes.” Shakespeare the Thinker, by the late A. D. Nuttall, surveys the entire work of the playwright from beginning end. Caught up by their inner energies, the book is about how plays work, well, as forms of thinking, explorations of the mind (a mind) at work, also pictures of the mind’s ways of thinking about the categories of thought, forms of faith, law, love, and knowledge, giving us a poet often at odds with, even ashamed by, his own powers, his own sense of mastery.
It's not all Shakespeare on Gross's "desk and night table and coffee table" -- there are also books by Conrad, a Nobel laureate of some controversy, Flaubert, as well as some poetry -- so please read on.

Read an excerpt from Shylock Is Shakespeare.

The Page 69 Test: Shylock Is Shakespeare.

My Book, The Movie: Shylock Is Shakespeare.

Writers Read: Kenneth Gross.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Mitch Silver's "In Secret Service"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Mitch Silver's In Secret Service.

About the book, from the publisher:

In this debut of a uniquely talented novelist, Ian Fleming's real world of spies, love, passion, and danger is brought to life when a young woman inherits Fleming's long-hidden account of spying during World War II and must finish it to find out why people are trying to kill her.

In 1964, James Bond's creator sealed a package containing a manuscript he thought no one would read until fifty years after his death. Ian Fleming was an officer in Britain's Naval Intelligence during World War II, and he had his own adventures to recount. His family ties and his career had taken him to the upper echelons of British and American society and espionage, a world where passionate affairs, exotic locations, and polite cocktail chatter were interlaced with danger, betrayal, and deceit. He'd replicated that world in his famous novels, but this manuscript contained a real spy story that would explode history when its secrets were revealed. He'd chosen the reader, and he'd have to trust she would serve the truth.

In 2005, Amy Greenberg -- a young American academic with a glittering future -- is summoned to Ireland to claim the contents of her grandfather's safe deposit box, in which she finds only one thing: a manuscript by Ian Fleming. The pages detail Fleming's involvement in Allied spycraft and contain information so confidential, so potentially explosive, that Amy soon discovers that people on both sides of the Atlantic are willing to kill to maintain its secrecy. As she journeys back home with her precious cargo, Amy finds herself in a race against time -- she must unlock the manuscript's shocking and fascinating secrets and outwit the unknown assailants who would do anything to bury the truth and protect a traitor's name.

Peopled with characters including Winston Churchill, Princess Diana, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Anthony Blunt, and FDR and illustrated with authenticating documents, In Secret Service is a historical mystery inside a contemporary thriller. The debut of an exciting new writer, this book combines impeccable research with thrilling action, in a brand-new take on espionage suspense.

Among the praise for the novel:

"A monarchy in trouble, murderous treason, and a World War II betrayal that resonates into the present. The real thrill of In Secret Service is watching this contemporary and historical tale recounted through the fun house mirror. Enjoy the ride."
— Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of The Book of Fate

"First-time novelist Silver spins an entertaining tale ... and his high spirits are so contagious that readers will happily go along for the ride."
Publishers Weekly

"This story that harks back to the best of the Cold War thrillers is at home in the past and the present - and compelling in both. It's one Fleming himself would have enjoyed."
The Rocky Mountain News

"Silver works in Fleming's actual involvement with spycraft, Winston Churchill, Princess Diana, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Anthony Blunt, and FDR—plus the secret traitor — and illustrates with "authenticating" documents. Fun."
— PoisonedPen.com

"Silver creates a dizzying and yet undeniably fascinating tale."
Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Smart and breezy...slyly plotted and bolstered with clever evidence and a winsome heroine. Winner of the beach-read sweepstakes, it will have us teasing facts from fiction. For all popular collections, in multiple copies."
Library Journal
In Secret Service is Mitch Silver's first novel.

Read a Q & A with Mitch Silver and an excerpt from the novel.

The Page 69 Test: In Secret Service.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

David Fulmer's "Storyville" books, the movie

The current feature at My Book, The Movie: David Fulmer's "Storyville" books.

Fulmer's acclaimed Storyville mysteries features Creole detective Valentin St. Cyr. The first volume of the series, Chasing the Devil's Tail, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Mystery/Thriller Book Prize and the winner of the Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel.

Publishers Weekly noted that Jass, the second Storyville mystery, "uses spare but evocative prose to create an atmosphere steeped in ragtime, bourbon and the institutional corruption for which the Big Easy is notorious."

And Rampart Street, was among the books mentioned in New York Magazine’s recent picks of “The Best Novels You’ve Never Read.”

About a film adaptation of the novels, Fulmer writes:
Since there have been numerous nibbles and discussions about one or all of my Storyville books reaching the screen, I've spent some time thinking about the talent in the roles. It's an intriguing exercise, because it's such a unique setting: sex, drugs, and primitive jazz, all in turn of the century New Orleans. I can only take credit for some of the characters: others are real historical figures, and as good as I or anyone else could make up.

At one point, an agent asked me for suggestions, and because I'm so clueless about new talent, I in turn asked a group of mostly female friends to weigh in. The majority of the suggestions were sober, but then a misbehaving few turned it into "Who I'd Most Like to Jump."
Read on to see which actors make Fulmer's dream cast.

Fulmer's other books include The Dying Crapshooter's Blues, to which he applied the Page 69 Test.

Visit David Fulmer's website and read chapter one of Chasing the Devil's Tale.

My Book, The Movie: David Fulmer's "Storyville" books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Interview: Jeremi Suri

New at Author Interviews: Jeremi Suri, author of the newly-released Henry Kissinger and the American Century, generously and graciously responded to a few of my questions about his subject and his book.

One exchange:
Oliver Wendell Holmes reportedly said of FDR: he has "a second-class intellect but a first-class temperament." In your view, what class intellect and temperament did Kissinger the diplomat have?

Henry Kissinger is a first class intellect. He is broadly read and he has a penetrating mind. He has a remarkable talent for digesting, ordering, and critically evaluating mountains of material. He identifies core problems and mobilizes diverse ideas and concepts to offer coherent and practical solutions. This combination of big ideas and effective steps for action is what has long made Kissinger an attractive advisor for presidents. Kissinger does not, however, possess a first class temperament. He is self-centered, incredibly suspicious, and monumentally insecure. Part of this comes, as my book shows, from his experiences as a German-Jew in Weimar and American society. Part of this also comes from his personality. Kissinger is a man who learned to ingratiate the elites he had to please, but he has enormous trouble forming congenial bonds with others. [read on]
Author Interviews: Jeremi Suri.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Joshua Clark's "Heart Like Water"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Joshua Clark's Heart Like Water: Surviving Katrina and Life in its Disaster Zone.

About the book, from the publisher:

Try it. Right now. Picture the lights going off in the room you're sitting in. The computer, the air conditioning, phones, everything. Then the people, every last person in your building, on the street outside, the entire neighborhood, vanished. With them go all noises: chitchat, coughs, cars, and that wordless, almost impalpable hum of a city. And animals: no dogs, no birds, not even a cricket's legs rubbing together, not even a smell. Now bump it up to 95 degrees. Turn your radio on and listen to 80 percent of your city drowning. You're almost there. Only twenty-eight days to go.

Joshua Clark never left New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, choosing instead to band together with fellow holdouts in the French Quarter, pooling resources and volunteering energy in an effort to save the city they loved. When Katrina hit, Clark, a key correspondent for National Public Radio during the storm, immediately began to record hundreds of hours of conversations with its victims, not only in the city but throughout the Gulf: the devastated poor and rich alike; rescue workers from around the country; reporters; local characters who could exist nowhere else but New Orleans; politicians; the woman Clark loved, in a relationship ravaged by the storm. Their voices resound throughout this memoir of a unique and little-known moment of anarchy and chaos, of heartbreaking kindness and incomprehensible anguish, of mercy and madness as only America could deliver it.

Paying homage to the emotional power of Joan Didion, the journalistic authority of Norman Mailer, and the gonzo irreverence of Tom Wolfe, Joshua Clark takes us through the experiences of loss and renewal, resilience and hope, in a city unlike any other. With lyrical sympathy, humility, and humor, Heart Like Water marks an astonishing and important national debut.
Among the praise for Heart Like Water:
"The pure verbal energy and steely clarity of Joshua Clark's account of outlasting Hurricane Katrina makes his book much more than memoir and documentary -- both of which it profoundly is. Clark's narrative rises to the level of being a crucial witness to the city itself -- an indictment, indeed, but also a reveling, an elegy, a light forward to survival."
--Richard Ford

"Joshua Clark has written a poignant, evocative book about the city he loves. Heart Like Water has the paradoxical ability to both uplift and haunt."
--Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast

"In the growing constellation of Katrina stories, Josh Clark's masterful tale shines brightest. The Apocalypse destroyed a city and ripped to shreds lives, but the legibility of its profound inner impact had to wait for this book, which is a love story. Clark's book is our Love in a Time of Cholera, but, even more than Marquez's novel, it is immediate and wrenching and true, while its rhythms, like Marquez's, are nothing short of majestic. Josh Clark has written the great nonfiction New Orleans novel, a book that's here to stay."
--Andrei Codrescu, NPR correspondent and author of New Orleans, Mon Amour

"For those of us who still mourn and fear we will always mourn for our beloved New Orleans, Joshua Clark's memoir of the terrible Katrina -- for which he would not abandon the city -- is a tough and beautiful thing. He has an eye and an ear for the crucial details and he is also a really fine writer. You will mourn anew reading this book, but it will help you heal."
--Robert Olen Butler, author of Severance and the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

"Sprawling, rambunctious, and finally very moving, Josh Clark's Heart Like Water is a valuable, kaleidoscopic record of a time when reality got turned inside out in America's most soulful city."
--Tom Piazza, author of Why New Orleans Matters

"Heart Like Water gives us not only a first-person history of a horrific time, but all the chaos and absurdity of that time. Clark has produced something that is not only entertaining, but an important document explaining how people adjust and survive."
--John Barry, author of The Great Influenza and Rising Tide

"Joshua Clark stuck it out in New Orleans during Katrina and the ensuing flood and serves up Apocalypse stew, which doesn't go down easy. Heart Like Water is street reporting at its rawest and most revealing. Clark tells what happened as it happened, the disgusting, painful truth without pontificating from a safe distance. He's a soul survivor if ever there was one."
--Barry Gifford, author of Wild at Heart and Night People

"The hurricane as seen by a young man in the French Quarter who stayed through it all, describing a trajectory from horrified onlooker to rebel and outcast to angel and mystic and madman, to trauma victim and political activist. As an adopted son of Louisiana and friend to its residents, witness to suffering and the loss of all some possess -- the one thing that is not lost is his devotion to the place and admiration of their spirit and plea for their future."
--Nancy Lemann, author of Malaise and The Fiery Pantheon

Read more about Heart Like Water.

Joshua Clark, founder of Light of New Orleans Publishing, edited Louisiana in Words, French Quarter Fiction, and other books, and his writing and photographs appear in many newspapers and magazines. He covered New Orleans in Katrina's aftermath for Salon.com and National Public Radio.

The Page 99 Test: Heart Like Water.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"A Consumer's Guide to the Apocalypse"

I just opened Eduardo A. Velásquez's new book, A Consumer's Guide to the Apocalypse: Why There is No Cultural War in America and Why We Will Perish Nonetheless.

Here's the first page of the introduction:
A Primer for Annihilation

Nothing really matters to me--Queen

What accounts for the popularity of ABC's hit series Lost, a story of marooned survivors on a mystical island haunted by dark forces, with mysterious computerized bunkers running underneath, at the same time that a biblical hue is cast over events? Have you wondered why the New Battlestar Galactica couches the futuristic quest of the last remaining humans in mythological language that harks back to the Greek gods? Why are the cylons (machines created by humans, some human enough to bear children) devout believers? Why are so many of the humans faithless cynics? Is the success of the Matrix trilogy a consequence of the marriage of myth, Bible, and science?

In other words, what explains the emergence of a litany of films and programs that interweave science and metaphysics at a time when the divide between secular and religious America has never seemed wider? Why these strange new mutations and conflations?
Questions, questions. Of course I'm reading on....

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Anthony Doerr's "Four Seasons in Rome"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Anthony Doerr's Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World.

About the book, from the publisher:

Anthony Doerr has received many awards -- from the New York Public Library, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Library Association. Then came the Rome Prize, one of the most prestigious awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and with it a stipend and a writing studio in Rome for a year. Doerr learned of the award the day he and his wife returned from the hospital with newborn twins.

Exquisitely observed, Four Seasons in Rome describes Doerr's varied adventures in one of the most enchanting cities in the world. He reads Pliny, Dante, and Keats -- the chroniclers of Rome who came before him -- and visits the piazzas, temples, and ancient cisterns they describe. He attends the vigil of a dying Pope John Paul II and takes his twins to the Pantheon in December to wait for snow to fall through the oculus. He and his family are embraced by the butchers, grocers, and bakers of the neighborhood, whose clamor of stories and idiosyncratic child-rearing advice is as compelling as the city itself.

This intimate and revelatory book is a celebration of Rome, a wondrous look at new parenthood, and a fascinating story of a writer's craft -- the process by which he transforms what he sees and experiences into sentences.

Among the praise for Four Seasons in Rome:

"A passionate reflection about learning to see that celebrates both the foreign and familiar."
Entertainment Weekly

"Anthony Doerr is dazzling in this book, in the way he celebrates the joys as well as the pain of being a parent and in love, being a writer and being in Rome, reminding us that certain experiences never grow stale when they are expressed through the fresh eyes of a real writer."
—Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran

"Doerr's journal is a love letter written with the ear of a musician, the sensibility of a Buddha, the heart of an inamorato. Rome is the chosen beloved, but Doerr's true subject is writing."
—Sandra Cisneros, author of Caramelo

"I loved this book which, in turn, made me laugh and weep at the relentless twins, Owen and Henry, who never sleep, the descriptions of Rome, the clouds, the light -- especially the light -- the people Doerr meets on the street, again the light, Pliny, Jonah's feet dangling from the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Shauna's steadfastness, Doerr's generous and intelligent spirit, his discerning eye and his perfect prose. Complimenti!"
—Lily Tuck, author of Interviewing Matisse

"Anthony Doerr found himself in the perfect Eternal City with the eternal Paternal Problem: how to care for two beautiful newborn twins while still doing his work as a writer and student and observer. The result is a funny, precise, touching account of cultural barricades crossed and fatherly exhaustions overcome; a story of the universalities of parenting and the specificities of Roman life that will lift the heart of every parent and delight the mind of every lover of Italy."
—Adam Gopnik, author of Through the Children's Gate and From Paris to the Moon
Read an excerpt from Four Seasons in Rome, and learn more about the book at the author's website.

Anthony Doerr's other books are The Shell Collector and About Grace. The Shell Collector, a volume of eight short stories, was published in 2002 and won the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, two O. Henry Prizes, the Rome Prize, and the Ohioana Book Award. It was a New York Times Notable Book and an American Library Association Book of the Year. About Grace, a novel, was named a ‘Best Book of 2004’ by the Washington Post, won the Ohioana Book Award again, and was a finalist for the PEN USA fiction award. In 2007, the British literary magazine Granta placed Doerr on its list of 21 Best Young American novelists.

Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho. From 2007 to 2010, he will be the Writer-in-Residence for the State of Idaho.

The Page 69 Test: Four Seasons in Rome.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Anne Fadiman reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Anne Fadiman, author, most recently, of At Large and At Small, a collection of essays on ice cream, butterflies, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, among other topics. She is the Francis Writer-in-Residence at Yale.

About At Large and At Small, from the publisher:
In At Large and At Small, Anne Fadiman returns to one of her favorite genres, the familiar essay — a beloved and hallowed literary tradition recognized for both its intellectual breadth and its miniaturist focus on everyday experiences. With the combination of humor and erudition that has distinguished her as one of our finest essayists, Fadiman draws us into twelve of her personal obsessions: from her slightly sinister childhood enthusiasm for catching butterflies to her monumental crush on Charles Lamb, from her wistfulness for the days of letter-writing to the challenges and rewards of moving from the city to the country.

Many of these essays were composed “under the influence” of the subject at hand. Fadiman ingests a shocking amount of ice cream and divulges her passion for Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Chip and her brother’s homemade Liquid Nitrogen Kahlúa Coffee (recipe included); she sustains a terrific caffeine buzz while recounting Balzac’s coffee addiction; and she stays up till dawn to write about being a night owl, examining the rhythms of our circadian clocks and sharing such insomnia cures as her father’s nocturnal word games and Lewis Carroll’s mathematical puzzles. At Large and At Small is a brilliant and delightful collection of essays that harkens a revival of a long-cherished genre.
Among the praise for the book:
“Anne Fadiman wins our attention by directing hers with unwavering focus at the world around her. Her perceptions are astute and her sensibility is so rich and sane no calculation could violate it. The personal essay was invented so that writers like Fadiman could practice it.”
—Sven Birkerts

“Limpid, learned, perspicacious—and relentless. Whatever the subject, Anne Fadiman overlooks nothing, imparts everything, and leaves you wanting more.”
—Thomas Mallon

“These are wonderful essays. The writing is effortless, elegant, and clear, the subjects delightful or weighty or both. Anne Fadiman had me completely charmed by page four.”
—Ian Frazier
For more about Fadiman's earlier work, see this brief biographical essay.

Writers Read: Anne Fadiman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 23, 2007

Five best books: lives of artists

Meryle Secrest, who has written biographies of Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Rodgers and Salvador Dalí (among others), is the author of Shoot the Widow: Adventures of a Biographer in Search of Her Subject (Knopf, 2007).

She selected a five best "books which indelibly portray the lives of artists" list for Opinion Journal.

One title on the list:
A Life of Picasso by John Richardson (Random House, 1991, vol. 1; 1996, vol. 2)

John Richardson, the author, editor, curator and all-around aesthete, has the ability to combine superb scholarship with a delicious style and unfailing wit. In the mid-1980s, then about 60, he embarked on a four-volume study of Pablo Picasso's life. It took him six years to publish the first volume (with a staggering 900 illustrations), covering the artist's life from 1881 to 1906. The second (1907-17) came five years later. At last, after more than a decade in the making, the third volume (1917-32) arrives this fall. It is joyous news, for Richardson's work so far is a paragon of biography-writing, rich with research and inspired in its insights. Richardson gives us Picasso in all his sensitive, brutal, vulnerable and cruel complexity.

Read more about Secrest's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ken MacLeod's "The Execution Channel"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Ken MacLeod's The Execution Channel.

About the book, from the publisher:
It's after 9/11. After the bombing. After the Iraq war. After 7/7. After the Iran war. After the nukes. After the flu. After the Straits. After Rosyth. In a world just down the road from our own, on-line bloggers vie with old-line political operatives and new-style police to determine just where reality lies.

James Travis is a British patriot and a French spy. On the day the Big One hits, Travis and his daughter must strive to make sense of the nuclear bombing of Scotland and the political repercussions of a series of terrorist attacks. With the information war in full swing, the only truth they have is what they're able to see with their own eyes. They know that everything else is -- or may be -- a lie.
Among the praise for The Execution Channel:
"Ken MacLeod's invented an entirely new genre -- the Blogothriller, the infinitely weirder cousin of the technothriller. More improbable, hilarious, and engrossing than 70,000,000 conspiracy sites, a trillion trackbacks, a heptillion message-board posts. This book feels like the future, like our futuristic present. The book is called The Execution Channel. It scared the shit out of me."
--Cory Doctorow

"Quite apart from the superb characterisation, MacLeod's depiction of global realpolitik is convincing and disturbing. The twist finale ... is both surprising and ultimately affirming."
--Eric Brown, Guardian

"Given Ken MacLeod's past predilection for sharp, savvy and close-up examination of how the balky, unpredictable, irrational human beast interacts via the means of politics, as exemplified already in his more space-opera-istic novels, it comes as no surprise that in this near-future thriller he is able to conjure up with stunning plausibility and verisimilitude a catastrophic global situation that seems to flow inexorably out of our present-day mess."
--Paul Di Filippo

"The Execution Channel is pure SF. It not only draws on traditions of the disaster novel, the alternate-world scenario, and the cyberthriller, but early on begins dropping hints that something more radical may be at stake.... [B]ut MacLeod is careful to keep the brief bits of speculative science from interfering with the story's pacing (and perhaps from intimidating non-SF readers), just as he offers us only brief glimpses of the ways in which this world differs from our own. But of course it's the ways in which MacLeod's world doesn't differ from our own that makes The Execution Channel genuinely frightening."
--Gary K. Wolfe, Locus

"It's an ingenious fabulation, witty and sombre, and fucking terrifying. And aside from the sophisticated intrigue, which is more redolent of Le Carre than Tom Clancy, the dialogue is brilliantly observed, especially the apodictic, callous tone of a certain kind of blogger, and the sly machinations of activists meetings (which must have come from considerable experience). The whole thing is brilliantly paced...."
--Lenin's Tomb
Ken MacLeod is the author of many acclaimed SF novels, including The Stone Canal, The Cassini Division, Newton’s Wake, and Learning the World, which won the Prometheus Award (his third) and was a finalist for the Hugo Award.

Read more about The Execution Channel at the publisher's website, and visit MacLeod's blog.

The Page 99 Test: The Execution Channel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 22, 2007

John Banville: most important books

John Banville recently told Newsweek about his five most important books.

And addressed two other book-related issues:

A Certified Important Book you haven't read:

George Eliot's Middlemarch, which is a source of shame. I know it's superb, but I have always been daunted by this masterpiece.

The book I most want my kids to read:

The Tower by W. B. Yeats. They would learn, or at least glimpse, how magnificent poetry can be.

Read more about Banville's most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: "China's Brave New World"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom's China's Brave New World — And Other Tales for Global Times.

About the book, from the publisher:
If Chairman Mao came back to life today, what would he think of Nanjing's bookstore, the Librairie Avant-Garde, where it is easier to find primers on Michel Foucault's philosophy than copies of the Little Red Book? What does it really mean to order a latte at Starbucks in Beijing? Is it possible that Aldous Huxley wrote a novel even more useful than Orwell's 1984 for making sense of post-Tiananmen China — or post-9/11 America?

In these often playful, always enlightening "tales," Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom poses these and other questions as he journeys from 19th-century China into the future, and from Shanghai to Chicago, St. Louis, and Budapest. He argues that simplistic views of China and Americanization found in most soundbite-driven media reports serve us poorly as we try to understand China's place in the current world order — or our own.
Among the praise for China's Brave New World:
"... rather effortlessly brilliant.... It penetrates with a lightly knowing eye and ear into the interior mind, heart and soul of giant China and the innumerable Chinese."

"China's Brave New World is a must-read for anyone interested in the world's most rapidly changing society. Wasserstrom explores China with an ethnographer's lens: he takes the reader into coffee shops, fast-food joints, red-chip firms, and bootleg video parlors-the kinds of places where with-it young Chinese spend their time. These are the stories that lie behind the 'economic miracle' of post-Mao/post-Teng China."
—James L. Watson, Harvard University, editor of Golden Arches East: McDonald's in East Asia

"This book provides a powerful lens for outsiders to understand a globalizing China and a unique mirror for the Chinese to reflect on their own society in a global context."
Yunxiang Yan, author of Private Life Under Socialism

"These are not only reflections on the 'brave new world' of China's globalizing regions, but also an intimate tour of the author's thoughts on Eastern Europe, the handover of Hong Kong, Mark Twain's Missouri, and much in between. Setting aside his hat of academic historian, Wasserstrom writes in lively, clear language and is not afraid to put his own actions and private feelings into his absorbing and penetrating accounts."
—Perry Link, Princeton University, author of The Uses of Literature: Life in the Socialist Chinese Literary System and Evening Chats in Beijing.
Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom is Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. His other publications include Student Protests in Twentieth-Century China: The View from Shanghai. He is a regular contributor to academic journals and has also written for a variety of general interest periodicals, including Newsweek, The Nation, the TLS, New Left Review, the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Los Angeles Times and the Christian Science Monitor.

The Page 69 Test: China's Brave New World.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Robert H. Frank reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Robert H. Frank, the H. J. Louis Professor of Management and Professor of Economics, Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University.

Professor Frank is the author of two new books: Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class (University of California Press, 2007) and The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas (Basic Books, 2007).

One of the books he tagged appears in the Page 69 Test series:
My favorite entry from the increasingly crowded post-Freakonomics bookshelf is Tim Harford's The Undercover Economist, out now in paperback.
Frank has several other interesting titles in his book bag -- and they aren't all about economics -- so read on.

Robert Frank is a monthly contributor to the "Economic Scene" column in the New York Times. Until 2001, he was the Goldwin Smith Professor of Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy in Cornell's College of Arts and Sciences. He has also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Nepal, chief economist for the Civil Aeronautics Board, fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and was Professor of American Civilization at l'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Frank's books include Choosing the Right Pond, Passions within Reason, Microeconomics and Behavior, Luxury Fever, and What Price the Moral High Ground? His The Winner-Take-All Society: Why the Few at the Top Get So Much More Than the Rest of Us, co-authored with Philip Cook, was named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times, and was included in Business Week's list of the ten best books for 1995.

Writers Read: Robert H. Frank.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Swierczynski's "The Blonde," the movie

The current feature at My Book, The Movie: Duane Swierczynski's The Blonde.

My December 2006 review of The Blonde opens:
If Duane Swierczynski's new book The Blonde hasn't been optioned by a movie producer yet, Hollywood's paid novel readers aren't doing their jobs. And once they do "discover" this book, I hope they'll hire me to write the adapted screenplay. Why? Because the story will make a cracking good movie and the screenplay almost writes itself.
So who would Swierczynski cast in the film adaptation of his novel? He writes:
I didn't have any specific actors in mind when writing The Blonde -- in fact, I think that's a recipe for disaster. Instead of allowing your character to develop his/her own voice and personality, you risk having them all sound like Samuel L. Jackson. Because that's who I could cast in every single role of every single novel or story I've written: Samuel L. Jackson.

I don't even know what my characters look like. I know what makes them tick, but if I try to imagine them, they're kind of vague blurs. I don't like when novelists overdo with character detail; I'd rather imagine my own version.
Read on about the actors who made the grade.

Among the praise for The Blonde:
"Delicious modern punk rock hard-boiled storytelling."
--Greg Rucka

"A hilarious nail-biter, a tour de force."
--Laura Lippman

"Lean as a starving model, mean as a snake, fast as a jet. This guy has got to be the hottest new thing in crime fiction."
--Joe R. Lansdale

"Insanely inventive. This inspired high-concept thriller rockets from climax to climax with an intensity that will leave you breathless. It's like the movie 'Speed' -- only with brains."
--Charles Ardai
Duane Swierczynski is editor-in-chief of the Philadelphia City Paper. Before The Blonde, he wrote The Wheelman, which was nominated for the Gumshoe Award and was optioned for film.

Read more about The Blonde, including an excerpt, at the St. Martin's Minotaur website and at Swierczynski's Secret Dead Blog. Also visit the author's MySpace and Crimespace pages.

See my review of The Blonde.

My Book, The Movie: The Blonde.

--Marshal Zeringue