Friday, August 31, 2007

What is David Pilling reading?

The latest contributor to Writers Read: David Pilling, Tokyo bureau chief of the Financial Times.

Part of his entry:
I read a lot of non-fiction about Japan both in English and Japanese. I tend to have several books on the go at once, which is probably not a good thing. At the moment, these include (in no particular order) Alan Macfarlane's Japan Through the Looking Glass, a book that grapples intelligently with the question of just how different is Japan; Totetsumonai nihon (Incredible Japan), a book by Taro Aso laying out his bid to be the next prime minister; A History of Japan to 1334 by George Sansom, the first part of a three-part classic.
There is more on Pilling's recent reading list -- non-Japanese nonfiction as well as fiction -- so please read on.

Writers Read: David Pilling.

--Marshal Zeringue

Favorite road books: John Leland

John Leland, a reporter for the New York Times, is the author of Hip: The History and the new book, Why Kerouac Matters.

He contributed "The List" -- of his all-time favorite road books -- to The Week magazine this week.

One title on Leland's list:
Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

The road to Nowheresville. Bardamu, the semi-autobiographical narrator, begins at the bottom and goes straight down, never losing his fatalism or his love of cheap bodily pleasures. Duped into World War I, he is sold into slavery in Africa, runs off to Detroit, and ultimately sinks into corrupt poverty in France. Virtue is absent from this picaresque, but mendacity, revulsion, and acid humor drip from the pages.
Read more about Leland's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Patricia Wood's "Lottery"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Patricia Wood's Lottery.

About the book, from the author's website:
Perry’s IQ is only 76, but he’s not stupid. His grandmother taught him everything he needs to know to survive: She taught him to write things down so he won’t forget them. She taught him to play the lottery every week. And, most important, she taught him whom to trust. When Gram dies, Perry is left orphaned and bereft at the age of thirty-one. Then his weekly Washington State Lottery ticket wins him 12 million dollars, and he finds he has more family than he knows what to do with. Peopled with characters both wicked and heroic who leap off the pages, Lottery is a deeply satisfying, gorgeously rendered novel about trust, loyalty, and what distinguishes us as capable.
Among the praise for Lottery:
“Patricia Wood’s debut novel tickles your funny bone, tugs your heartstrings, and redefines the word ‘fortunate’ all at once."
--Redbook

“Irresistible…A feel-good read.”
--Good Housekeeping

“This wonderful first novel is about a guy who starts off with all the chips stacked against him and still comes out a winner. It’s an underdog novel, and the underdog is a most satisfying hero, for more than any other protagonist, the underdog is the one we love to love…. Patricia Wood’s portrait of Perry is so vivid and funny and poignant and joyful that it avoids the disappointing flatness of the predictable.”
--Washington Post

“Certainly it is no easy task to make readers comfortable with a developmentally disabled narrator. But with Lottery, Patricia Wood has accomplished much that is difficult. Rejecting a number of previous literary models, she has created a character who is neither man-child nor idiot savant nor saint, but rather a well-rounded person with defined shortcomings and admirable strengths.”
--San Francisco Chronicle

“In her debut novel, Patricia Wood asks readers to experience life in an unexpected, sometimes uncomfortable, often humorous way: as Perry, a 31-year-old man with an IQ of 76 who wins $12 million in the Washington State Lottery. The consistent voice and emotional logic of the first-person narration anchors readers securely in Perry's world, gently prodding them to reexamine intelligence, capability and at what point money affects society's perceptions.”
--Miami Herald

“In her debut novel, Patricia Wood defines poignancy in words of one syllable. Lottery is solid gold.”
--Jacquelyn Mitchard

“What I love about Lottery is that it is much more than a novel about a windfall affecting a simple soul - it's a book about a stupendous event affecting a great number of people, all the winner's friends, and especially the reader.”
--Paul Theroux
Read an excerpt from Lottery and learn more about the novel and the author at Patricia Wood's website, her blog, and her MySpace page.

The Page 69 Test: Lottery.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Suzanne Vega reading?

Singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega talked to the Christian Science Monitor about her recent video- and film-viewing and what she's been listening to.

And what she's been reading:

I just finished Lady Brooke Astor's autobiography called Footprints. She just passed away at the age of 105. I loved it while I was reading it and I can't wait to reread it. To put it in a nutshell, it's like one of Edith Wharton's heroines come to life. Her life was quite Edwardian, and when she describes her social visits when she was a teen, it really is from another era. She had such an impact in New York. She would go visit the places she gave money to, and it was the poorest neighborhoods. She wrote [her biography] when she was 80, I think, and she was just out there visiting the projects, planning things for them. She had a great life. One that I enjoyed was called Eat, Pray, Love [by Elizabeth Gilbert]. First of all, I'm a fan of any kind of writing about food. I love to read about food – I like to read M.F.K. Fisher – so I was intrigued by the title Eat, Pray, Love. I thought, wow, those are three really good things to do. The part that I ended up liking best was when she goes to an ashram and just basically prays. It's a very monastic life that she leads there. It's entertaining and at the same time it's instructive. You go on the journey with her. I naturally gravitate toward biographies and classics. I love Dickens and all the Brontës. Only in the last five or 10 years have I been able to read Jane Austen.
Check out Vega's recent encounters with movies and other artists' music.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Top 10 dystopian novels for teenagers

Gemma Malley is the author of The Declaration, a futuristic, dystopian novel set in a world in which there are drugs which stop the onset of aging and there's no room left in the world for youth. With death no longer inevitable, children become an abomination and those that are accidentally born must live locked away in a borstal-like Surplus Hall. It is published in the U.S. by Bloomsbury and is scheduled for release in October.

She complied a "top 10 dystopian novels for teenagers" list for the Guardian.

One title from Malley's list:
The Children's Story by James Clavell

I'm ashamed to say that I borrowed this book from my school library when I was nine and never returned it. In my defence, it's one of the most chilling books I've ever read. Set in a classroom, it shows how susceptible young minds are, how vulnerable, how easy to control. In a few short pages (and just 25 minutes), a silky voiced teacher succeeds in brainwashing a classroom of children, turning them against their country, against their parents, against basic freedoms. As the book's blurb says, The Children's Story is not just for children...
Check out which title ranked at the top of the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Whitney Terrell's "The King of Kings County"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Whitney Terrell's The King of Kings County.

About the book, from the publisher:

A sweeping novel of our "suburban nation"

Few first novels elicit the rave reviews enjoyed by Whitney Terrell for The Huntsman. The New York Times called it “a searing first novel,” while the Chicago Tribune compared Terrell to “Faulkner, Conrad, and Melville.” In The King of Kings County, Terrell again takes us to his native Kansas City for a heartrending look at a young man’s coming-of-age as he confronts his father’s — and his city’s — dissolution.

In 1956, Alton Acheson — part conman, part visionary — begins building a suburban empire amid the cornfields of Kings County. As Alton bluffs his way into prosperity, his son, Jack, becomes a reluctant accomplice to his grand ambitions. But when greed, corruption, and organized crime combine to create an urban nightmare instead — abandoned buildings, ghettos, and slums — Jack is forced into a clear-eyed confrontation with his father’s legacy. This extraordinary saga, The King of Kings County, examines the manufacturing of an American Dream, one whose contradictions divide us to this day.

Among the praise for the novel:
“On the literary map with Anne Tyler’s Baltimore and William Kennedy’s Albany.”
Washington Post Book World

“In works by John Cheever or John Updike or Ann Beattie, suburbia becomes an emblem of malaise and compromise.... But what we haven’t seen dramatized quite so often or so well is how this promised land of the suburbs came to be created . . . [until] Whitney Terrell’s engrossing second novel, The King of Kings County.”
Los Angeles Times

“A big, fat juicy novel of conflicting values and elusive dreams ... unforgettable.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Mythic yet utterly sensible ... the prose is pure, generous, hilarious John Irving.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Enthralling . . .”
Wall Street Journal

“Whitney Terrell is a remarkable novelist.... He knows so much, tells so well in the voice of Jack Acheson, that the unfolding scenes’ serial surprises — always sensual and emotional — seem almost effortless, as natural as breathing.”
—Geoffrey Wolfe

"Racism, real estate, segregation and the Mafia in Kansas City, in a big, brainy book spanning half a century. Yet Terrell manages to make this equally a coming-of-age story, with writing nimble enough to make John Irving proud."
Gillian Flynn
Whitney Terrell is the New Letters Writer in Residence at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His first novel, The Huntsman (Viking) was a New York Times notable book and was selected as a best book of 2001 by The Kansas City Star and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The King of Kings County (Viking) won the William Rockhill Nelson award from The Kansas City Star and was selected as a best book of 2005 by the Christian Science Monitor. In 2006, he was named one of 20 “writers to watch” under 40 by members of the National Book Critics Circle.

Visit Terrell's website to learn more about the author, his novels, and his non-fiction.

The Page 99 Test: The King of Kings County.

--Marshal Zeringue

Chris Knopf's "Two Time," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Chris Knopf's Two Time.

Two Time is the second of Knopf's Sam Acquillo Hamptons mysteries.

Here's how the author sees his lead in the adaptation:
Sam Acquillo is perfect for Sean Penn. Sam's in his early 50's - older than Sean, but not by much, and by the time this gets through development he'll be much closer, right? Plus, it's much more impressive for an actor to stretch a little older than go younger. Sam's a physically vital 50's, who likes to stay in shape, notwithstanding a tendency to smoke and drink too much.

He's not a classically handsome guy, but women go for him. He's got a big, busted up nose and curly gray hair. He's an ex-pro boxer. He has an inner rage that manifests itself in a calm and disciplined outward demeanor, until the provocation gets to be too much. In fact, anger management and eruptions of violence are two of Sam's livelier qualities. Think Viggo Mortensen in A History of Violence.

Sam's very intelligent and well educated. He's had a successful corporate career as a design engineer, which he blew up. Along with his home life. So there's loads of inherent tragedy in his situation, well leavened by a cynical, mordant wit.

He's trying to achieve a rapprochement with his grown daughter, whom he loves unconditionally. More fodder for dramatic expression.

In the Sam Acquillo books, all the action takes place in the Hamptons, though mostly the Hamptons few know about. You get to flash on the glitterati, but the action is on the back roads, working class neighborhoods and dive bars. I think Sean is one of very few actors who'd be able to keep all this in balance, without tipping into cliché, using the various contradictory elements to good dramatic and comic effect.
Read on to learn about the actors for the rest of the cast and Knopf's choice for director.

Visit Chris Knopf's website to learn more about the Sam Acquillo Hamptons mysteries.

My Book, The Movie: Two Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Interview: Paul Collier

The latest dialogue at Author Interviews: Paul Collier responds to a set of queries from the political scientist J. Tyler Dickovick.

Collier's new book is The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It.

One exchange from the interview:
Dickovick: You argue that the poorest countries where the world’s bottom billion live are caught on one of four traps: the conflict trap, the natural resource trap, the “landlocked with bad neighbors” trap, and the “bad governance in a small country” trap. While the traps share features in common, some seem more driven than others by exogenous factors or natural endowments, such as geography. Do the different traps demand different responses from policymakers, and how so?

Collier: Yes, very much so. Indeed, the point of diagnosing these four very different traps is precisely that they will require very different remedies. People have been saying for years that a 'one size fits all' approach does not work, but I am specific in why it won't, and why on the other hand we don't have to go to the other extreme of every country being utterly unique. To give you one example, the trap of resource riches cannot be solved by 'downsizing' the state because it should indeed tax the resource revenues, the key focus needs to be on accountable government spending. In contrast, in some other situations, small and lean government might be a very effective approach to harnessing opportunities. [read on]
Paul Collier is Professor of Economics and Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University. Former director of Development Research at the World Bank and advisor to the British government's Commission on Africa, he is one of the world's leading experts on African economies and is the author of Breaking the Conflict Trap, among other books.

J. Tyler Dickovick is an Assistant Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee University; he specializes in the politics in developing countries with a focus on Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Read more about his research and publications at his faculty webpage.

Visit the Oxford University Press website to learn more about The Bottom Billion, and read more about Paul Collier's research at his faculty webpage.

The Page 99 Test: The Bottom Billion.

Author Interviews: Paul Collier.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: David Hewson's "The Seventh Sacrament"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: David Hewson's The Seventh Sacrament.

About the book, from the author's website:
It begins on one of Rome's least-known hills, the Aventino, in the public piazza fronting the mansion of the Knights of Malta. There a curious keyhole to the knights' estate reveals an astonishing view, a direct line across the Tiber to the dome of St. Peters in the distance.

For seven-year-old Alessio Bramante the act of peeking through the keyhole on his way to school each day is a ritual, a way of establishing a bond with his difficult, distant father, one of Rome's most famous archaeologists, Giorgio Bramante. Then one day, after an unexpected visit to one of Giorgio's underground excavations, Alessio disappears. A group of students who had slipped into the site, an ancient Mithraic temple, attract the blame. A tragedy occurs. Alessio is never found, and it's his father who goes to jail.

Fourteen years later, in an arcane shrine by the Tiber known as the Little Museum of Purgatory, a tee-shirt belonging to Bramante's son begins to show fresh bloodstains. No one can understand how the marks have appeared behind the glass.

Soon it becomes apparent that the newly-released Giorgio Bramante is bent upon a vicious and terrifxying revenge on all those he blames for the loss of his son, and numbers Inspector Leo Falcone, a member of the original investigating team, among his targets. In the depths of the labyrinth he knows better than any man, a distraught father seeks his vengeance against those he hates.

Nic Costa, watching Falcone move relentlessly into the man's deadly grip, realises the answer to the deadly present must lie in solving a cold case that, like the forgotten Alessio Bramante, has long been regarded as dead and buried for good.
Among the praise for the novel:
"A superb mix of history, mystery and humanity. "
Booklist

"This is definitely among this spring's must-read crime fictions.
"
Calgary Herald

"David Hewson has a superb sense of pace and place, his characters feel real, and he writes a page-turner detective story like no other.
"
Choice

"...a sophisticated and original thriller that cements David Hewson’s burgeoning reputation as one of crime writing’s most exciting talents."
Mystery and Thriller Magazine

“Intricate.... [With a] poignant resolution few readers will anticipate.”
Publishers Weekly
Read an excerpt from The Seventh Sacrament and learn more about David Hewson and his work at his website and his blog.

Hewson has also produced an audio chat and a video slideshow about writing the novel. Take a virtual tour of Nic Costa's Rome.

David Hewson is the author of the Nic Costa series of novels set in contemporary Rome. A former journalist with the London Times and Sunday Times, his work has been translated into many languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Thai ... and Italian.

The Page 69 Test: The Seventh Sacrament.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What is Christopher Goffard reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Christopher Goffard, author of the literary crime novel Snitch Jacket, which will be released in the U.S. in October.

Publishers Weekly gave Snitch Jacket a starred review:
In Goffard's impressive debut, a darkly comic romp through the Southern California underworld, Benny Bunt, a 41-year-old dishwasher, finds his main escape in the Greasy Tuesday, a blue-collar bar in Costa Mesa. Among the recidivist misfits, his is a harmless familiar face. What they don't know is that Benny is a snitch who earns pocket money by ratting out his buddies to the cops. Enter one Gus “Mad Dog” Miller, a massive, bearded Vietnam vet, covered with prison tattoos; Gus holds court at the bar with outrageous tales of his exploits, military and criminal. Gus soon becomes Benny's best friend, and seeks his assistance in a contract killing. Only problem is, the police “botch” their surveillance and Benny ends up taking the fall for a double homicide committed at the Howling Head festival in the Mojave desert. Goffard's prose shimmers with intelligence and humor, and he has a keen ear for telling detail. Fans of such cultish neo-noir scribes such as Charlie Huston and Duane Swierczynski will be richly rewarded.
The Page 99 Test: Snitch Jacket.

Writers Read: Christopher Goffard.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jane Fallon's "Getting Rid of Matthew"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Jane Fallon's Getting Rid of Matthew.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sparkling, sophisticated, witty story about what happens when he finally leaves his wife for you … and you realize you don’t want him after all.

For once this isn’t a novel about the heroine getting the guy. It’s about getting rid of the guy, and in the process, finding herself.

Helen is nearly forty, and has, for far too long, had an affair with Matthew, a high-powered, much older, attractive, married man who was once, of course, her boss. After years of being disappointed by missed dates, out-of-the-way restaurants where there’s no chance of them being caught, broken promises, and hushed phone calls, at last Helen realizes enough is enough — it’s time to dump Matthew and get on with her life.

This, of course, is the exact moment when Matthew decides to leave his wife for her. He appears on her doorstep, announcing, “I’ve done it! I’ve left her! I’m yours!” and proceeds to move in. Helen then discovers how much she can’t bear him. But she can’t just throw him out — after all, she’s been begging him to do exactly this for years. The only thing to do, she decides, is to convince his wife, Sophie, to take him back.

So after a “chance” meeting in the park, Helen befriends Sophie and hears all about her lying, cheating husband. But then, the unexpected happens — Helen really starts to like Sophie, and thinks she’s way too good for a selfish bore like Matthew. And then there’s the other small problem of Matthew’s handsome, charming son…

Jane Fallon turns the conventional love story on its head in this irresistibly delicious, ironic debut for every woman who has ever realized, “Be careful what you wish for.”

Among the praise for Getting Rid of Matthew:
“Fallon delivers the goods in a believable and scathingly funny voice. She gives Helen and Sophie the human bumps and curves that make them so alive, you’ll find yourself wishing you could ring them for lunch.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Fallon’s conversational and deeply descriptive writing style — and witty dialogue — make the novel thoroughly readable… For those longing for another lighthearted beach read as summer draws to a close, Getting Rid of Matthew is a solid option.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Fallon makes Helen’s twisted mind pathetic, hilarious, and relatable all at once. Her story is a gritty look at the madness of never knowing exactly what you want.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Sparkling and unpredictable, a brilliant first novel.”
Elle (U.K.)

“A clever, sophisticated debut novel, Getting Rid of Matthew … is a juicy caper … painfully funny … [and] satisfying. Along the way, Fallon’s heroine climbs out of her rut and launches a life of her own.”
—LadiesHomeJournal.com

“Brit TV producer Fallon takes ‘careful what you wish for’ to hilarious heights in her debut novel…The surprising and rewarding treat is a bright, grown-up story of two women who discover friendship and trust in one another.”
Publishers Weekly

“Immensely relatable and gently moving, it will leave you full and smiling like the best of novels do. A dazzling debut.”
—Jamie Lee Curtis
Read an excerpt from Getting Rid of Matthew.

Jane Fallon is an award-winning television producer in England. Several of her hit shows, including This Life and Teachers, air in this country on BBC America.

The Page 69 Test: Getting Rid of Matthew.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pg. 69: Thomas I. White's "In Defense of Dolphins"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Thomas I. White's In Defense of Dolphins: The New Moral Frontier.

About the book, from the official website:

This book explores two questions:

  1. What kind of beings are dolphins? That is, what does scientific research reveal about their cognitive and affective abilities, and what are the philosophical implications of these findings?
  2. In light of the kind of beings they are, is the current state of human/dolphin interaction ethically acceptable? This book argues that dolphins have intellectual and emotional abilities sophisticated enough to grant them “moral standing”; they should be regarded at least as “nonhuman persons”; and the current state of human/dolphin interaction (characterized by the deaths and injuries of dolphins in connection with the human fishing industry and the use of captive dolphins by the entertainment industry for therapeutic purposes and by the military) is ethically indefensible. Accordingly, this book lays the foundation for the claim that the current relationship between humans and dolphins is, in effect, equivalent to the relationship between whites and Black slaves two centuries ago.
Read a sample chapter and learn more about In Defense of Dolphins at the book's website.

Thomas I. White is the Hilton Professor of Business Ethics and Director of the Center for Ethics and Business at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. His other publications include four books (Right and Wrong, Discovering Philosophy, Business Ethics, and Men and Women at Work) and numerous articles on topics ranging from sixteenth-century Renaissance humanism to business ethics.

The Page 69 Test: In Defense of Dolphins.

--Marshal Zeringue

Interview: Neal Thompson

Neal Thompson's latest book is Hurricane Season: A Coach, His Team, and Their Triumph in the Time of Katrina.

The "coach" of the subtitle is J.T. Curtis and "his team" is the Patriots of John Curtis Christian School -- and that the coach's name is the same as the school's is no coincidence.

About the book, from Thompson's website:

Just a few nights [before Katrina hit], the Patriots of John Curtis Christian School compete in their final pre-season game, focused on an impending run for a record twentieth Louisiana state football championship. A team from a small, private school of modest means, which had improbably become a New Orleans football powerhouse under the guidance of legendary coach (and son of the school's founder) J.T. Curtis, the Patriots were unsure how their season would progress, with inexperienced new starters at several key positions. They were concerned but optimistic, certain that their team would come together and succeed as they always had.

Then Katrina hit. And with it, their lives were changed forever.

Thompson graciously answered my questions about his book and writing: read all about it at Author Interviews.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Henry Nicholls' "Lonesome George"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Henry Nicholls' Lonesome George: The Life and Loves of a Conservation Icon.

About the book, from the publisher:
Lonesome George is a 5ft long, 200lb tortoise aged between 60 and 200. In 1971 he was discovered on the remote Galapagos island of Pinta, from which tortoises had supposedly been exterminated by greedy whalers and seal hunters. He has been at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz island ever since, on the off-chance that scientific ingenuity will conjure up a way of reproducing him and resurrecting his species. Meanwhile a million tourists and dozens of baffled scientists have looked on as the celebrity reptile shows not a jot of interest in the female company provided. Today, Lonesome George has come to embody the mystery, complexity and fragility of the unique Galapagos archipelago. His story echoes the challenges of conservation worldwide; it is a story of Darwin, sexual dysfunction, adventure on the high seas, cloning, DNA fingerprinting and eco-tourism.
Among the praise for Lonesome George:
"Like the best human-focused biographers, Nicholls uses his unusual subject as a springboard into more universal territory. He aptly portrays Lonesome George as a sort of reptilian Forrest Gump, an unwitting bystander continually thrust to the forefront as society's defining crises play themselves out around him."
--Wired

"This marvellous look at the conservation of nature, as embodied in one enormous reptile, is highly recommended."
--Nancy Bent, Booklist

"Is he gay, impotent or just bored? Read this fascinating book for the full story. It skilfully blends historical derring-do with cutting-edge conservation biology."
--NewScientist

"Told with real affection and humour ... a fitting tribute to one of the voiceless victims of human progress."
--Guardian

"A warmly enjoyable book...a pleasure to read."
--www.popularscience.co.uk

"Nicholls' lively tale takes the reader on a journey through the Galapagos - and how much there is to lose."
--BBC Focus Magazine

"This is a wonderful tale of an almost mythical beast. Rich in historical detail George's story is one of pathos, despair and hope with some quirky reproductive biology thrown in for good measure. Nicholls has done us all a service, reminding us of the fragility of life in general and of one very special chelonian in particular."
--Tim Birkhead, author of Promiscuity and The Red Canary

"Not simply the story of a tortoise but the tale of that icon of evolution, the Galápagos archipelago, and of the heroics and (sometimes) seeming futility of the conservation movement. The science is compelling, the tone is light - highly recommended."
--Olivia Judson, Seed Magazine

"It is a cracking tale - and crackingly well told. It is also salutary. Giant tortoises are indeed extraordinary - but not as strange as human beings."
--Colin Tudge, author of The Secret Life of Trees

"This astonishing story of survival tugs at the heartstrings. If Darwin were alive today he would be fascinated by Henry Nicholls' splendid account of this solitary survivor from Pinta Island. A must for anyone who cares about extinction or has a soft spot for the remarkable history of a very singular animal."
--Janet Browne, author of Charles Darwin: A Biography

Read a sample chapter from Lonesome George.

Henry Nicholls is a freelance science journalist specializing in evolutionary biology, the environment, conservation and history of science. Since 2002, he has been the Editor of Endeavour, a quarterly History of Science magazine. After a year living in the Kalahari Desert working on the evolution of sociality in meerkats, Nicholls took up a PhD at the University of Sheffield in the UK to study sexual selection in birds. Lonesome George, his first book, was longlisted for the 2006 Guardian First Book Award and shortlisted for the Royal Society's prestigious General Book Prize.

The Page 99 Test: Lonesome George.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 27, 2007

What is Richard Zimler reading?

The latest featured contributor to Writers Read: Richard Zimler, the author of seven novels over the last decade: The Seventh Gate; The Search for Sana; Guardian of the Dawn; Hunting Midnight; The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon; The Angelic Darkness; and Unholy Ghosts.

One title he named:
[Philip Matyszak's] Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day. It's a great idea: what would a traveler to Rome in 200 AD find and how would he or she spend his days? The book has chapters on Dining Out and What to Buy, as in a modern guidebook. I've read the first chapter, called "Getting There." It's full of surprising information and is written in an engaging style: who knew, for instance, that a person living in a Roman province needed an exit visa from his area of residence in order to go to Rome? If I ever decide to write about ancient times, I'm sure the book will be very helpful. It's published by Thames & Hudson. [read on]
Zimler's novels have appeared on bestseller lists in 12 different countries, including the USA, Great Britain, Portugal, Italy, and Australia, and he has won numerous prizes for his work, including a 1994 National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Fiction and the 1998 Herodotus Award for the best historical novel.

The Page 99 Test: Guardian of the Dawn.

Writers Read: Richard Zimler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Most important books: Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, recently told Newsweek about his five most important books.

He also addressed two other book-related issues:

A book you want to share with your child:

Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1. I've got a 15-year-old son and I think this is definitely one of those great books about becoming an adult.

A classic that, upon rereading, disappointed:

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.I say this even though I assign this to my students. I teach a course on food writing [at Berkeley] and this book is an important influence, but it's very unreadable and just so over-the-top and overwritten.

Read about Pollan's most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: J.A. Konrath's "Dirty Martini"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: J.A. Konrath's Dirty Martini.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Whiskey Sour, Chicago police Lieutenant Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels hunted down a killer dubbed “The Gingerbread Man.” In Bloody Mary, she busted a psychopath with a penchant for dismemberment. In Rusty Nail, it was a serial killer with a doozy of a family tree. And now, in Dirty Martini, Jack faces her toughest adversary yet: a sicko who’s poisoning the city’s food supply. Can she catch him -- and decide whether to accept boyfriend Latham’s surprise proposal -- without destroying both her reputation and her sanity?
Among the early praise for Dirty Martini:
"Konrath's fourth drink-inspired mystery to feature Lt. Jacqueline Jack Daniels (after 2006's Rusty Nail) is a particularly potent mix of equal parts mirth and mayhem with a dash of sex and a twist (or two) of plot. His latest should be taken straight, no chaser needed."
--Publishers Weekly

"Konrath ratchets up the suspense until readers don't dare stop flipping the pages. A solid success for those who like to mix comedy and grit."
--Booklist

"Mix witty repartee with edge-of-your-chair suspense, over-the-top killing devices, and action that never takes a breather, and you have Konrath's latest white-knuckle thriller. Not to be missed."
--Library Journal
Read an excerpt from Dirty Martini and learn more about J.A. Konrath and his writing.

The Page 99 Test: Dirty Martini.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Charles Finch's "A Beautiful Blue Death"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Charles Finch's A Beautiful Blue Death.

About the book, from the author's website:

When a maid in Mayfair drinks an exotic poison, is it suicide?

Or a case for Charles Lenox?

London, 1865. On a gray evening late in autumn, amateur detective Charles Lenox's closest friend needs help. A former servant of her house, Prudence Smith, is beautiful, a flirt, and dead. Was it an accident? A suicide? Or does the pile of gold in the house have something to do with it? As Lenox begins to uncover the truth another body falls at the most fashionable ball at the season, and the chase is on before the killer strikes again ... dangerously close to home.
Among the praise for A Beautiful Blue Death:
"Set in England in 1865, Finch's impressive debut introduces an appealing gentleman sleuth, Charles Lenox. When Lady Jane Grey's former servant, Prue Smith, dies in an apparent suicide-by-poisoning, Lady Jane asks Lenox, her closest friend, to investigate. The attractive young maid had been working in the London house of George Barnard, the current director of the Royal Mint. Lenox quickly determines that Smith's death was a homicide, but both Barnard and Scotland Yard resist that conclusion, forcing him to work discreetly. Aided by his Bunter-like butler and friend, Graham, the detective soon identifies a main suspect, only to have that theory shattered by that man's murder. Finch laces his writing with some Wodehousian touches and devises a solution intricate enough to fool most readers. Lovers of quality historical whodunits will hope this is the first in a series."
--Publishers Weekly

"What elevates A Beautiful Blue Death from just another historical mystery is the relationships Lenox has with the people around him; with Lady Jane, his brother Edmund and Graham. While the central mystery is fascinating, what captivates readers is the exploration Lenox’s relationship with Lady Jane and the window it provides into the life of a gentleman of leisure. Their habit of taking their daily tea illustrates the depth of their relationship, unusual for a time when the intersection of men and women’s lives was quite minimal. It is the man these relationships illuminate which will draw readers to future volumes about Charles Lenox."
--Janelle Martin

"A Beautiful Blue Death is a superb Victorian mystery starring a reluctant debonair hero whose preference is to be a couch potato rather than a field detective. The whodunit is cleverly designed so as Lenox finds a clue he ends up taking either a sidestep or two steps backwards as his case is far from linear as he had initially believed when he drew a jealousy line from the victim to the men salivating after her. The historical tidbits that make 1865 England come to life actually enhance the investigation that will elate sub-genre fans as Charles Finch provides a great first act."
--Harriet Klausner
Read an excerpt from A Beautiful Blue Death.

Check out Finch's guest blog post at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.

The Page 69 Test: A Beautiful Blue Death.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Pg. 99: Don Bruns's "Stuff to Die For"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Don Bruns's Stuff to Die For.

About the book, from the author's website:
Chasing the American Dream could leave you running for your life. Best friends James Lessor and Skip Moore are hardly on the fast track. While James works as a line cook at Cap'n Crab, Skip spends his days selling — rather attempting to sell — security systems to people who have no money and have nothing they care to protect.

James and Skip aren't upwardly mobile, but they're about to get literally mobile when James spends a surprise inheritance on a white box truck. An investment in the future, he surmises, as these two are starting a business. Moore and Lessor, or Lessor and Moore. Have Truck Will Haul.

But the fledgling business takes a shocking turn when James and Skip unload the contents of their first moving job and find some unexpected cargo — a bloody human finger.

As James and Skip scramble to stay one step ahead of the perpetrators of a gruesome crime, they'll learn that there is some stuff you should never touch — and some stuff to die for in this witty, gritty mystery about big dreams, big ideas — and big trouble.
Among the early praise for Stuff to Die For:
"We just love Floridian crime tales, and Stuff To Die For, by Don Bruns, is a perfect example of why. Witty, gritty and filled with brilliantly realized characters, the book a pure delight. Let's hope the rumors are true and Stuff To Die For heralds the start of new series."
Award-winning author Jeffrey Deaver

"A tornado of a tale!"
Edgar Award winner Rupert Holmes

“They may see themselves as aging reincarnations of the Hardy Boys, but James (“never Jim or Jimmy”) Lessor and Skip Moore are much closer in spirit to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.... The bizarre nature of South Florida doesn’t figure quite as prominently in Bruns’ story here as it does in Carl Hiaasen’s wild imaginings, but it is still an essential element. James and Skip are no great shakes as detectives, entrepreneurs, or lovers, but they are so puppy-dog endearing and funny that they deserve an encore. Perhaps even a series. Like the Hardy Boys.”
Edward Morris, Forword magazine

“On their first job as self-employed movers, twenty-something James Lessor and Skip Moore discover a bloody finger. Throw in the CIA, murderous thugs, Cubans with agendas, and Miami will never be the same — and neither will James and Skip. This quirky engaging mystery by the author of the Mick Sever series (South Beach Shakedown) is a buddy novel as funny as the movie Dumb and Dumber.”
—Library Journal


"One of the best thriller writers today. Read his books for their fast pace and brilliant plots, reread his books to appreciate his writing style which is truly reminiscent of the legends of the genre..."
—Strand Magazine


Stuff to Die For is the latest from Don Bruns, author of the popular and critically acclaimed (by me, among others) South Beach Shakedown. A worthy successor to that fine book, Stuff to Die For is a sure bet to appeal to fans of Carl Hiaasen, Tim Dorsey or James O. Born.”
—BookPage
Read more about Stuff to Die For and view the video trailers for the novel.

Don Bruns is the author of three Caribbean mysteries. Stuff To Die For is the first novel in a new series.

The Page 99 Test: Stuff to Die For.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Susan Diamond's "What Goes Around"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Susan Diamond's What Goes Around.

About the book, from the author's website:
What Goes Around is part murder mystery, part caper and all about revenge. More specifically, it’s about the rewards of a good revenge, “good” meaning both justified and well-done.

The story features five women who set out to avenge the death of a friend at the hands of three of the most powerful men in California. They know only that the body of Ginger Pass was found on a path outside an exclusive men’s club during the club’s summer retreat, and they alone know that Ginger worked secretly as a high-priced call girl. Drawing on their own intelligence, professional connections and moral outrage, the five -- a financially savvy widow, the owner of a chain of sports clubs, a dermatologist, an estate lawyer and a deputy tax assessor -- piece together what happened and plot a necessarily anonymous and covert revenge against each man. And in the course of carrying out this campaign, each woman finds the conviction to change her own life.

Polly, Kat, Dinah, Charlotte and Justine are not practiced sleuths but competent, successful women in their thirties and forties -- thoughtful, witty and ironic. They’re also aware that what they’re doing is morally valid but dangerous ... and thus doubly satisfying.

For all the action and adventure, revenge is a fairly dark concept and the themes of the story are serious: the way success breeds success, the righting of wrongs, the power of friendship, and the thin line between life and death, public and private life, achievement and discontent.
Among the praise for What Goes Around:
"In Diamond’s sparkling debut, five determined L.A. women -- Polly, Kat, Dinah, Justine and Charlotte -- set out to avenge the murder of their friend, Ginger, a society matron turned high-class call girl.... Careful research, clever plotting and credible characters enhance this intelligent vengeance quest."
--Publishers Weekly

"Diamond, a former writer for the Los Angeles Times, pens a satisfying novel of revenge and female empowerment mid the movers and shakers of Los Angeles.... Strong, genuine characters make this more than a simple tale of murder and the clever machinations of revenge."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Former Los Angeles Times writer Diamond has set her first novel among the privileged of L.A.... [T]he book manages to keep the reader invested and rooting for this team of women to the end."
--Booklist

"Diamond’s latest is replete with carefully planned schemes executed by five women bent on avenging the murder of their friend.... L.A.’s savviest self-help group has designed a plan so diabolical that it could bring down three of the most powerful men in California in this laugh-out-loud tale of vengeance and self-discovery."
--Romantic Times
Susan Diamond was a fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and spent seventeen years at the Los Angeles Times as a feature writer and columnist. She has worked for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, Time, People, and the Village Voice.

Read an excerpt from What Goes Around and learn more about the book and the author at Diamond's website.

The Page 69 Test: What Goes Around.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 25, 2007

What is Thomas Perry reading?

The latest featured contributor to Writers Read: Thomas Perry.

Perry is the author of the Jane Whitefield series as well as the bestselling novels Nightlife, Death Benefits, and Pursuit, the first recipient of the Gumshoe Award for Best Novel.

He won an Edgar Award for The Butcher’s Boy, and Metzger’s Dog was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

His latest novel is Silence.

He tagged novels by Allan Guthrie and Ray Banks as well as a couple of non-fiction titles. And a novel by a Nobel laureate:
Nadine Gordimer's The Pick-Up, which I received in the mail a couple of days ago. Cornell, where I went to school, has its freshmen and alumni read one book at the start of each school year, and I picked it up last night. I'm not finished yet, but even without the academic recommendation and the Nobel Prize, she's very good. [read on]
The Page 69 Test: Silence.

The Page 99 Test: Nightlife.

Writers Read: Thomas Perry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best: portraits of the era of America's founding

Jay Winik, author of the forthcoming The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800, selected a five best "portraits of the era of America's founding" list for Opinion Journal.

One title from the list:

The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson by Bernard Bailyn

Before the American Revolution, Thomas Hutchinson was perhaps the most distinguished colonial official of his day. He was the royal governor of Massachusetts and America's most eminent historian. But like a third of the colonists, he remained stubbornly wedded to the British Crown, thus becoming one of the most hated men on the continent. He was variously denounced as "dark, intriguing, and ambitious" and as an "arch-fiend." In 1765, a mob enraged by his support for the Stamp Act stormed into his house and, when he was nowhere to be found, stabbed his portrait with bayonets. Exiled to Britain in 1774, Hutchinson became a broken man, forever longing to be buried in American soil. Bailyn writes the story with uncommon sensitivity and elegance and powerfully reminds us that America's Revolution, stripped of its mythology, was a painful, even tragic, civil war.

Read more about Winik's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: J.A. Jance's "Justice Denied"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: J.A. Jance's Justice Denied.

About the book, from the publisher:
Seattle investigator J. P. Beaumont is handed a hush–hush special assignment: find out what really happened in the shooting death of an ex–con. At first, everything seems straightforward, but the deeper Beau digs, the more complicated it becomes. The ex–con really had turned over a new leaf and his murder has nothing to do with, say, a drug deal gone bad. Someone targeted DeShawn for death.

Meanwhile, Beau's lover and fellow cop, Mel, is looking into cold cases, in order to close them once and for all. But suddenly, her investigation has tentacles reaching to Beau's, and the two begin to uncover a nightmarish conspiracy that could involve people in high places, even within the halls of law enforcement.
Visit the publisher's website to read or listen to an excerpt from Justice Denied, and check out J.A. Jance's official website and her blog.

The Page 69 Test: Justice Denied.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 24, 2007

Pg. 99: Anthony Holden's "Bigger Deal"

The latest feature at the Page 99 Test: Anthony Holden's Bigger Deal: A Year on the New Poker Circuit.

About the book, from the publisher:

In the years since Anthony Holden wrote his classic memoir Big Deal, the poker world has changed beyond recognition. When Holden played in the 1988 World Series of Poker there were 167 starters competing for a prize of $270,000. Since then, poker has become the world's largest single-competitor sport -- at the 2006 World Series there were almost 9,000 players and a first prize of $12 million, the richest in any sport.

What happened in the years between Big Deal and Bigger Deal could never have been predicted: the Internet and television sparked a worldwide explosion in the popularity of poker, one that shows no sign of abating. Poker even has a respectable image these days, much to the disgust of die-hard players. Gone are the seedy rooms of the Horseshoe -- you can't even smoke at the table! -- and you're more likely to find yourself head to head with a film star than an ex-con in Las Vegas.

With the future of online poker now legally endangered in the United States, Holden's vision of the poker boom comes at a critical moment in the game's history. In Bigger Deal, Holden is your guide to the world of the "new" poker -- to the players who dominate the modern game and the personalities behind the multibillion-dollar business it has become -- as he tries once again to win the world title. After all, as Telly Savalas once reminded Holden, a million dollars is never irrelevant. Not to mention twelve...

Among the praise for Bigger Deal:
"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."
-- James McManus, author of Positively Fifth Street

"Holden is the top writer in pokerdom."
--Martin Amis

"Engaging...Holden has an endearing way of letting the reader into his head,
turning descriptions of botched or brilliant poker hands into page-turning mini-narratives, discussing his mental demons and romantic travails in disarming
detail. You can't help rooting for him."
--Susan Casey, The New York Times Book Review

"Long before poker had achieved today's stratospheric level of popularity, British writer Holden chronicled the challenges and frustrations of a year on the professional poker circuit, in 1990's Big Deal. In this enjoyable sequel, he revisits the poker world, playing in card rooms and tournaments in Europe and America, in home games in his native London and online during 2005 and 2006. The result is a rich account of how the game and its players have changed over the 17 years since he tried (and failed) to become a professional poker player. He profiles a range of people, from poker's living legend Doyle Brunson to the new breed of young professionals, schooled on the Internet and ruthlessly aggressive, and explores the reasons for poker's recent, unprecedented boom. Holden is particularly good in charting the meteoric rise of online poker (and its ambiguous legal status in the United States). He's also adept at articulating his fascination with the game: 'The thrilling sense of triumph when you sense something that turns out to be right; the disproportionate despair when you're wrong or the poker gods are against you.'"
--Publishers Weekly

Read an excerpt from Bigger Deal and learn more about the book, the author -- and poker -- at Anthony Holden's website.

Check out some of Holden's favorite poker books.

The Page 99 Test: Bigger Deal.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nathan Walpow's "The Manipulated," the movie

Nathan Walpow is the author of four "Joe Portugal" mysteries currently featured at My Book, The Movie.

The Manipulated, the latest title in the series, is about:
Sleeping with a surrogate daughter ... a Golden Globe ... hockey at Staples Center ... the Velour Overground ... black, green, and oolong tea ... Mao's Kitchen ... alternate realities ... Zoloft ... chicken marsala ... James Bond ... Johnny Depp ... Pink Pearls ... the use of light and shadow ... fatherhood ... stalking a former lover ... a head shop ... a time-traveling ninja master ... Iraq, because everything's about Iraq ... Beyoncé ... the Felonious Monks ... a little Taoism ... the Venice Riots ... a spate of epiphanies ... tentacles ...
Among the praise for The Manipulated:
"Entertaining prose, frequent humor, quirky L.A. scenes, and a lovable protagonist strongly recommend this fourth entry in the Joe Portugal series.'
--Library Journal

"Joe Portugal has a great compassion for filmdom's bottom-feeders, and his wounded, good-guy humanity makes The Manipulated a moving, fulfilling read."
--Mystery Scene

"Walpow writes one of the most entertaining series being done today. His writing styly feels smooth and casual and instantly absorbs the reader ... like a cold beer on a really hot day, cool, refreshing and just what you need to feel good."
--Crime Spree

"The pace is fast and furious and the dialogue is snappy. Forget [name omitted] and all of those writers with a million dollar marketing program backing them up. Those people are just pretending to be writers anyway. Nathan Walpow is the real thing."
--Mystery News

"I thought the last Joe Portugal novel - One Last Hit - was unbeatable. Wrong. The Manipulated is even better. Suddenly this is a must-read series."
--Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels

"The Manipulated is one slick read. Nathan Walpow has a keen instinct for balancing humor and suspense, and Joe Portugal is one of the hippest series characters around. Entertaining as hell."
--Victor Gischler, author of Gun Monkeys

"Nathan Walpow writes like the slacker love child of Ross MacDonald and The Big Lebowski. The Manipulated is funny, smart, snide and rocking, and I'm not just talking air guitar."
--Denise Hamilton, author of the Eve Diamond novels
Here's the opening paragraph of Walpow's entry at My Book, The Movie:
I've thought about casting my protagonist, Joe Portugal, a TV commercial actor who keeps stumbling over dead bodies, pretty much since the first book came out in 1999. Never came up with anyone I've been truly happy with. A few years ago I started considering Hank Azaria (who I was in a comedy improv class with a couple of decades ago). He'd be good, but seeing him doesn't quite make me jump up and say, "Hey, that's Joe." Another name that's come to mind lately is Steve Carell. I've seen him in a couple of movies, and I think he'd work nicely, but again I don't experience the that's-Joe moment. I watch The Daily Show every day, and Jon Stewart would be right physically; he's got the comedy chops, but I'm not sure about the more serious stuff. Finally, give him a few more years, and I'd consider John Cusack, who I think is vastly underrated. [read on]
Read an excerpt from The Manipulated and learn more about Nathan Walpow and his books and short stories.

My Book, The Movie: The Manipulated.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Dan Rather reading?

Dan Rather talked to the Christian Science Monitor about his movie- and television-viewing and his favorite music.

And what he's been reading:
I am rereading – I have not read it in at least 40 years – H.G. Wells's The Outline of History. I have a two-volume set, which I've had since sometime in the 1950s, I think. He attempts to distill the history of the world. I'm just about finished with Volume I and about to begin Volume II of that. I did finish Cormac McCarthy's The Road. I've now read all of his books. I'm not a book reviewer, but I think he's one of the most important American novelists since Faulkner. Get a lot of argument about that, I suppose. The Road, as you know, is a fairly short novel. To be able to pack that much into it, every word counts. I've reread a little bit about it for style. How does he do this? And I still don't know. (If you find out, call me collect!) My wife has cautioned me to stop saying this, but I'm a Bible reader and I read some of that every day.
Check out Rather's taste in music and his viewing pleasures.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Alex von Tunzelmann's "Indian Summer"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Alex von Tunzelmann's Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire.

About the book
, from the publisher:
An extraordinary story of romance, history, and divided loyalties — set against the backdrop of one of the most dramatic events of the twentieth century

The stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, liberated 400 million people from the British Empire. With the loss of India, its greatest colony, Britain ceased to be a superpower, and its king ceased to sign himself Rex Imperator.

This defining moment of world history had been brought about by a handful of people. Among them were Jawaharlal Nehru, the fiery Indian prime minister; Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the leader of the new Islamic Republic of Pakistan; Mohandas Gandhi, the mystical figure who enthralled a nation; and Louis and Edwina Mountbatten, the glamorous but unlikely couple who had been dispatched to get Britain out of India. Within hours of the midnight chimes, their dreams of freedom and democracy would turn to chaos, bloodshed, and war.

Behind the scenes, a secret personal drama was also unfolding, as Edwina Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru began a passionate love affair. Their romance developed alongside Cold War conspiracies, the beginning of a terrible conflict in Kashmir, and an epic sweep of events that saw one million people killed and ten million dispossessed.

Steeped in the private papers and reflections of the participants, Indian Summer reveals, in vivid, exhilarating detail, how the actions of a few extraordinary people changed the lives of millions and determined the fate of nations.
Among the praise for Indian Summer:
"Von Tunzelmann's first book is a highly readable popular history, an impressive piece of work that is rooted in scholarly sources, her own original research and a solid command of Indian history and politics -- all considerably spiced up with tidbits of gossip and speculation.... Indian Summer is a fascinating book that may well change how we look on the benighted world in which we live today."
Jonathan Kirsch, Los Angeles Times

"Indian Summer is a true tour de force: absorbing in its detail and masterly in the broad sweep of its canvas."
—Sir Martin Gilbert, author of The Somme

"Indian Summer is outstandingly vivid and authoritative. Alex von Tunzelmann brings a lively new voice to narrative history-writing."
—Victoria Glendinning, author of Leonard Woolf

"Alex von Tunzelmann is a wonderful historian, as learned as she is shrewd. But she is also something more unexpected: a writer with a wit and an eye for character that Evelyn Waugh would surely have admired."
—Tom Holland, author of Rubicon and Persian Fire

"An engaging, controversial, very lively and, at times, refreshingly irreverent tour de force. Alex von Tunzelmann has written a dramatic story, laced with tragedy and farce, and done so very well; a remarkable debut."
—Lawrence James, author of The Middle Class: A History and Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India
Read an excerpt from Indian Summer.

Alex von Tunzelmann was educated at Oxford and lives in London. Indian Summer is her first book.

The Page 69 Test: Indian Summer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 23, 2007

What is Peter Spiegelman reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Peter Spiegelman, author of three John March novels.

His debut novel, Black Maps, was published by Knopf in August, 2003 and won the 2004 Shamus Award for Best First Novel. It was followed in 2005 by Death's Little Helpers and, earlier this year, Red Cat.

Spiegelman is also editor of and contributor to Wall Street Noir.

See which non-fiction titles he's been reading, and visit his website for synopses and excerpts from his novels.

Writers Read: Peter Spiegelman.

--Marshal Zeringue