Saturday, April 30, 2011

What is Laura Harrington reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Laura Harrington, author of Alice Bliss.

Her entry begins:
I read the first one hundred pages of Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin when it first came out. Brand new book. On loan from the library for two weeks. Great anticipation. I had that feeling on page one that you occasionally are lucky enough to experience … this is going to be amazing. And you let yourself go, you slide into this imagined world and it is so rare and so delicious that you slow down so that you can savor the pleasure. I fell madly, deeply in love with the main character, Corrigan, or at least I thought he was the main character. Until he died unexpectedly on page seventy-two. I turned the page and I was introduced to another group of characters. Wait a minute, I remember thinking, you can’t do this to Corrigan. You can’t do this to me. I felt terribly upset, but read on, thinking, Corrigan will come back. There will be flashbacks, we’ll bury him and grieve him at least. It did not help that the new character introduced on page seventy-three, Mrs. Soderberg, in a penthouse on Park Avenue, was not initially very interesting or compelling. Paralyzed with grief over the loss of her son in Viet Nam, she seemed shallow, neurotic and dithering. I should care, I should sympathize with this woman, but wait – where’s Corrigan in all this? Where’s the thread, the connection, where is he?

I felt betrayed. The author had broken his contract...[read on]
Among the early praise for Alice Bliss:
"I put down this book and thought, there is no one like this girl, so fully has Harrington brought a new Alice to life. The great sorrow, of course, is that there are many Alice Blisses out there. The power of Harrington's richly delineated novel lies in putting a girl like Alice before us and asking us to remember how many beautiful, feisty others are staring down the long hall of adulthood with a father or a mother gone to war."
--Sarah Blake, bestselling author of The Postmistress

"Alice is a true heroine: intelligent, passionate, strong-minded. Watching her find her way is an absorbing pleasure."
--Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street

"This book may be the Our Town of the twenty-first century."
--Anne Roiphe, author of Epilogue: A Memoir

"Meet Alice Bliss, the heroine of Laura Harrington's gorgeous page-turner of a first novel. Like Scout in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Alice is destined to become a household name."
--Charlotte Gordon, author of The Woman Who Named God and Mistress Bradstreet

"Heartbreaking yet edged with promise, Alice Bliss explores the wounds of war, love, and family bonds while illuminating the strength of a young girl's spirit. A stunning debut."
--Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Read an excerpt from Alice Bliss, and learn more about the book and author at Laura Harrington's website and blog.

Laura Harrington’s award winning plays, musicals, operas, and radio plays have been widely produced across America, in Canada, and Europe in venues ranging from The Zipper Factory in NYC to Houston Grand Opera to the Paris Cinemateque.

Writers Read: Laura Harrington.

--Marshal Zeringue

Richard Schickel's 5 favorite books

Richard Schickel is a film historian, filmmaker, and film critic. He is the author of 37 books and the director-writer-producer of dozens of film and television documentaries largely about film makers and about movie history.

Among his best known books are: The Disney Version; D.W. Griffith: An American Life; Intimate Strangers: The Culture of Celebrity; Clint Eastwood: A Biography; and, Good Morning, Mr. Zip Zip Zip (a memoir).

Schickel's most recent title is Conversations with Scorsese.

One of his five favorite books, as told to The Week magazine:
Arthur & George by Julian Barnes

Based on the true story of how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle rescued an Anglo-Indian barrister falsely accused of a heinous crime, Barnes’s novel is a study both of marvelously contrasting characters and of turn-of-the-century English society. It’s a massive book that reads with the addictive quickness of a detective story, which it partly is. Barnes is one of our deftest and most appealing writers.
Read about the Hollywood novel on Schickel's list.

Also see: Richard Schickel's 5 best show-biz biographies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Michael S. Neiberg's "Dance of the Furies"

This weekend's feature at the Page 99 Test: Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War I by Michael S. Neiberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
The common explanation for the outbreak of World War I depicts Europe as a minefield of nationalism, needing only the slightest pressure to set off an explosion of passion that would rip the continent apart. But in a crucial reexamination of the outbreak of violence, Michael Neiberg shows that ordinary Europeans, unlike their political and military leaders, neither wanted nor expected war during the fateful summer of 1914. By training his eye on the ways that people outside the halls of power reacted to the rapid onset and escalation of the fighting, Neiberg dispels the notion that Europeans were rabid nationalists intent on mass slaughter. He reveals instead a complex set of allegiances that cut across national boundaries.

Neiberg marshals letters, diaries, and memoirs of ordinary citizens across Europe to show that the onset of war was experienced as a sudden, unexpected event. As they watched a minor diplomatic crisis erupt into a continental bloodbath, they expressed shock, revulsion, and fear. But when bargains between belligerent governments began to crumble under the weight of conflict, public disillusionment soon followed. Yet it was only after the fighting acquired its own horrible momentum that national hatreds emerged under the pressure of mutually escalating threats, wartime atrocities, and intense government propaganda.

Dance of the Furies gives voice to a generation who found themselves compelled to participate in a ghastly, protracted orgy of violence they never imagined would come to pass.
Learn more about Dance of the Furies at the Harvard University Press website.

Michael Neiberg, a native of Pittsburgh, is an historian who specializes in the ways that societies interact with war and military institutions. He has been a Guggenheim fellow, a founding member of the Société Internationale d’Étude de la Grande Guerre, and the Harold K. Johnson Visiting Professor of History at the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

The Page 99 Test: Dance of the Furies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 29, 2011

Pg. 69: Vicki Delany's "Among the Departed"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Among the Departed by Vicki Delany.

About the book, from the publisher:
Fifteen years ago, a young girl named Moonlight Smith went to her best friend Nicky Nowak’s house for a sleepover. Before being picked up by her mother the following morning, Moonlight joined the Novak family for breakfast. Shortly after, Mr. Nowak went for a walk. He was never seen again.

Autumn has arrived on the mountains above Trafalgar, B.C. and the promise of winter is in the air. Constable Molly Smith is cuddled by the fireplace with Adam Tocek of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police when Tocek and his dog Norman are called to a wilderness camping ground to join the search for a little boy who snuck away from his family. The child is found, dirty, terrified, weeping, but unharmed. Then the inquisitive Norman digs up something else: human bones.

The ID isn’t positive, but is enough to prompt Sergeant John Winters to re-open the Brian Nowak investigation. Sergeant Winters finds a family shattered beyond recognition: Mrs. Nowak is an empty shell of a woman who rarely leaves her house; her son Kyle haunts the streets of Trafalgar at night and spends his days creating highly disturbing art; and her daughter Nicky, who moved to Vancouver, has grown up to be gorgeous, charming, and elegant. Yet behind this glamorous façade is a dangerous and painful secret, and Nicky returns to Trafalgar trailing in her wake a terrifying threat to another innocent family….

As the investigation into the life and disappearance of Brian Nowak grows, old secrets are brought to light and new ones struggle to remain hidden.
Read an excerpt from Among the Departed, and learn more about the book and author at Vicki Delany's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Among the Departed.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Jonathan Dudley reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Jonathan Dudley, author of Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics.

Part of his entry:
One fascinating book I read recently was A Life Decoded: My Genome, My Life, an autobiography by the pioneering geneticist J. Craig Venter. Venter takes the reader through his time as a subpar high school student, a Vietnam medic, a community college student whose academic talent is becoming apparent, a rock star graduate student, and a rock star scientist. He ends the book by discussing the present efforts of his research institute to discover new genes in the ocean's microorganisms and to create synthetic life. I liked the book because I share some aspects of Venter's life story and temperament; I was also a mediocre high school student who only started excelling in college, and I'm also somewhat rebellious by nature. I also liked the book because Venter models a unique and alluring way to be a scientist, with...[read on]
Among the early praise for Broken Words:
"Jonathan Dudley brings theological sophistication, scientific savvy and historical sensitivity to this astute analysis of four central issues in today's culture wars. Broken Words is essential reading for anyone who aspires to reclaim evangelicalism from the Religious Right."
–Randall Balmer, Columbia University Professor of American Religious History and author of Thy Kingdom Come

"Hands down, Broken Words is the most insightful, clear-eyed, and popularly useful overview to date of why and how Evangelicalism has come to be such a powerful and intractable political and doctrinal bloc in American affairs over the last half century. Written in vivid, conversational style, Words also carries within itself the gentleness of affection and familial courtesy, for Dudley was himself reared evangelical. There is no meanness of spirit here, no clanging of swords. There is simply an urgent demand that we look now and accurately at how politics has led many among us to reversals of our historic faith and practice and, ultimately, to divisive and destructive civil policies and prejudices."
–Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why
Learn more about the book and author at Jonathan Dudley's website.

Jonathan Dudley is a graduate of Yale's Divinity School and currently a M.D. student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In Broken Words he writes about the evangelical Christian community that raised him.

The Page 99 Test: Broken Words.

Writers Read: Jonathan Dudley.

--Marshal Zeringue

Steve Hockensmith's "Dreadfully Ever After," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Dreadfully Ever After by Steve Hockensmith.

The entry begins:
Does anyone ask a kernel of corn if it wants to be ground up for tortillas, canned as a Niblet or puffed and powdered and dumped in a Count Chocula box? No. Because everyone knows the kernel of corn has no say in the matter.

Oh, and corn can’t talk. There’s that, as well. If you’ve been asking yourself why your popcorn’s so stand-offish every time you try to start a conversation, now you know why.

I think most people get this about authors, too. Not that we can’t talk! Good god, can we talk. Ever hang out in the bar at a writer’s conference? What a bunch of Chatty Cathys and/or Carls. Finally, we’re in the company of people who find writer’s block, e-book pricing and ourselves as fascinating as we do -- and the booze is tax deductible! The result: schmoozapalooza.

But back to the point at hand. (Yes, there is one.) Most people understand that writers have no say in what becomes of their creations once Hollywood takes them upstairs to show them its etchings. So talking about the cast or director or best boy that you, The Author, would prefer...? It’s not just pie in the sky, it’s usually pie somewhere beyond the orbit of Pluto.

My sky-pie is just a wee tad closer to Earth than usual, however, for this reason: I’ve written the sequel to a novel that might (or might not) be turned into a film very, very soon (or 35 years from now). I’m waffling on the timeline because the adaptation in question hasn’t had a smooth road to the screen. The road, in fact, seems to be mined. Here’s the deal.

My new book is Dreadfully Ever After. It’s the sequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which has been in development as a feature film since shortly after the invention of celluloid. I think the first director attached to the project was Buster Keaton. Eventually, Flirting with Disaster/Three Kings auteur David O. Russell was brought in to write and direct, and Natalie Portman was set to produce and star. But then Russell left, and Portman left, and a replacement...[read on]
Visit Steve Hockensmith's website.

Steve Hockensmith is the author of Dawn of the Dreadfuls, the best-selling prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. He also writes the “Holmes on the Range” mystery series. He lives in Alameda, Calif., with a grown-up person, two non-grown-up people and a semi-grown-up dog.

Writers Read: Steve Hockensmith.

My Book, The Movie: Dreadfully Ever After.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten works of fiction to change the way you look at nature

At io9 Annalee Newitz named ten works of fiction that might change the way you look at nature, including:
The Alchemist and The Executioness, by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell

Bacigalupi and Buckell are known for their eco-themed science fiction, and now they've produced two linked fantasy novellas set against a backdrop of mystical climate change. In the world that both stories share, magic is forbidden but widely practiced - and each time a spell is cast, the horrific poisonous "bramble" grows larger, threatening to make the world unlivable. (Available only as an audiobook, which you can enjoy without using dead tree bodies.)
Read about two more novels on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pg. 99: Kevin M. Schultz's "Tri-Faith America"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Tri-Faith America: How Catholics and Jews Held Postwar America to Its Protestant Promise by Kevin M. Schultz.

About the book, from the publisher:
President Franklin D. Roosevelt put it bluntly, if privately, in 1942-the United States was "a Protestant country," he said, "and the Catholics and Jews are here under sufferance."

In Tri-Faith America, Kevin Schultz explains how the United States left behind this idea that it was "a Protestant nation" and replaced it with a new national image, one premised on the notion that the country was composed of three separate, equally American faiths-Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. Tracing the origins of the tri-faith idea to the early twentieth century, when Catholic and Jewish immigration forced Protestant Social Gospelers to combine forces with Catholic and Jewish relief agencies, Tri-Faith America shows how the tri-faith idea gathered momentum after World War I, promoted by public relations campaigns, interfaith organizations, and the government, to the point where, by the end of World War II and into the early years of the Cold War, the idea was becoming widely accepted, particularly in the armed forces, fraternities, neighborhoods, social organizations, and schools.

Tri-Faith America also shows how postwar Catholics and Jews used the new image to force the country to confront the challenges of pluralism. Should Protestant bibles be allowed on public school grounds? Should Catholic and Jewish fraternities be allowed to exclude Protestants? Should the government be allowed to count Americans by religion? Challenging the image of the conformist 1950s, Schultz describes how Americans were vigorously debating the merits of recognizing pluralism, paving the way for the civil rights movement and leaving an enduring mark on American culture.
Learn more about Tri-Faith America at the Oxford University Press website.

Kevin M. Schultz is Assistant Professor of History and Catholic Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The Page 99 Test: Tri-Faith America.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is John Pollack reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: John Pollack, author of The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics.

His entry begins:
I recently read The Tree, by John Fowles, which explored the starkly different relationships that the author and his father enjoyed with the trees in their lives. The father, a struggling tobacconist in suburban London, cultivated domestic fruit trees whose productivity he tracked carefully from year to year. The younger Fowles preferred wild trees in natural settings, as their unkempt nature inspired his creativity. I enjoyed the book for its meandering and for its quiet demand that I open my dictionary from time to time.

Fowles closes the memoir with a hike he took to an isolated English forest called Wistman’s Wood, a place he’d not visited for 30 years. It was a windswept grove of stunted English Oaks – ancient and twisted, their branches...[read on]
Among the early praise for The Pun Also Rises:
“He tells us, with a clarity unusual for the subject, how the mind works...”
—P.J. O'Rourke, New York Times

The Pun Also Rises is a brief but compelling exegesis on what puns are and why they matter.”
Los Angeles Times

“The best books on language are the ones that encourage us to reexamine what we think we know, and The Pun Also Rises, a new book on “the lowest form of wit,” does exactly that.”
Boston Globe

“Whether you are a practicing punster, interested in language or just hungry to learn something on the beach this summer as you lie on the sand-which-is there... Pollack’s book is fun and informative.”
Detroit Free Press
Learn more about the book and author at the official The Pun Also Rises website.

John Pollack, who won the 1995 O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships, was a Presidential Speechwriter for Bill Clinton. Earlier, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Spain, as a field assistant in Antarctica, and as a strolling violinist on Mackinac Island.

The Page 99 Test: The Pun Also Rises.

Writers Read: John Pollack.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best books about the Kennedys

David Nasaw is Arthur M Schlesinger, Jr. Professor of History at CUNY’s Graduate Center. His biography of William Randolph Hearst, The Chief, won the Bancroft Prize, and his acclaimed biography of Andrew Carnegie was shortlisted for the Pulitzer. He is currently working on a biography of Joseph P. Kennedy.

One book about the Kennedy family that Nasaw discussed with Emma Mustich at FiveBooks:
Robert Kennedy and His Times
by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Does Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., who worked closely with JFK for a significant period, and was an outspoken RFK supporter, manage to navigate the obstacles associated with writing about friends/colleagues with similar deftness in Robert Kennedy and His Times?

I think he does. You know, this is a very different book from A Thousand Days. A Thousand Days is Schlesinger’s big, fat book about the Kennedy administration and his life in it; in that book, he writes from the inside. In Robert Kennedy and His Times, Schlesinger writes from the outside, and he does a remarkable job. You see the brilliance of Schlesinger as a historian that is evident in his books about the New Deal and Roosevelt. You know that Schlesinger worked for Kennedy, and admires him; nonetheless, the advantages of being an insider and trying to write from the outside I think outweigh the disadvantages of reading a book by an insider. With this book. This is rarely the case – but then, rarely do historians come along as talented as Schlesinger was.

Is this the best work on Robert Kennedy that there is?

Yes, I think so. You know, Schlesinger himself always said that history is written to be re-written. If you ask me to do this ten years from now, and I’m still around, I doubt very much that I will choose this book as the best one. But right now, it’s a rather remarkable book.
Read about another book Nasaw discussed at FiveBooks.

Also see: Thurston Clarke's five best books about John F. Kennedy.

The Page 69 Test: David Nasaw's Andrew Carnegie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jeremy Robinson's "Threshold"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Threshold by Jeremy Robinson.

About the book, from the publisher:
After a terrorist attack on a reservation in Oregon leaves thousands dead, Jack Sigler, call sign King and his Chess Team—Queen, Rook, Bishop and Knight—must protect the only survivor, thirteen year-old Fiona Lane. When a death in the family pulls King away, and the rest of the team is sent on a mission, Fort Bragg is attacked by a strange and overwhelming force. When the dust settles, Fiona is gone.

But the attack is part of a larger offensive. Around the world the last speakers of ancient languages are being systematically exterminated. As they fight to find the mastermind behind the killings, and Fiona, the team is hunted by strange creatures that defy explanation—living statues, genetically modified monsters and walking megaliths—sent by an enemy from their past. If not stopped, he will be able to remake himself, and the world.

Calling on help from old friends and ancient heroes, the team fights their most desperate battle yet, not just to save the world as we know it, but to rescue a little girl who wants nothing more than to call King Dad.

An ancient tower holds the key to unlocking a horrifying secret hidden within mankind’s most antiquated languages. If unlocked, the world as we know it will cease to exist.

Jeremy Robinson’s third book in the Jack Sigler series is a rocket-powered thriller, combining high adrenaline action, smart science, ancient legends, and stunning locations.
Learn more about the book and author at Jeremy Robinson's website.

My Book, the Movie: Instinct.

The Page 69 Test: Instinct.

The Page 69 Test: Threshold.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pg. 99: David A. Kirby's "Lab Coats in Hollywood"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Lab Coats in Hollywood: Science, Scientists, and Cinema by David A. Kirby.

About the book, from the publisher:
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, released in 1968, is perhaps the most scientifically accurate film ever produced. The film presented such a plausible, realistic vision of space flight that many moon hoax proponents believe that Kubrick staged the 1969 moon landing using the same studios and techniques. Kubrick’s scientific verisimilitude in 2001 came courtesy of his science consultants—including two former NASA scientists—;and the more than sixty-five companies, research organizations, and government agencies that offered technical advice. Although most filmmakers don’t consult experts as extensively as Kubrick, films ranging from A Beautiful Mind and Contact to Finding Nemo and The Hulk have achieved some degree of scientific credibility because of science consultants. In Lab Coats in Hollywood, David Kirby examines the interaction of science and cinema: how science consultants make movie science plausible, how filmmakers negotiate scientific accuracy within production constraints, and how movies affect popular perceptions of science.

Of course, accurate science is only important to filmmakers if they believe it generates entertainment value. Scientific expertise, Kirby points out, is most valuable to filmmakers as a tool to help them utilize their own creative expertise. Drawing on interviews and archival material, Kirby examines such science consulting tasks as fact checking, shaping visual iconography, advising actors, enhancing plausibility, creating dramatic situations, and placing science in its cultural contexts. Kirby finds that cinema can influence science as well: Depictions of science in popular films can promote research agendas, stimulate technological development, contribute to scientific controversies, and even stir citizens into political action.
Visit David A. Kirby’s webpage or learn more about Lab Coats in Hollywood at the MIT Press website.

David A. Kirby was a practicing molecular biologist before becoming Senior Lecturer in Science Communication Studies in the Center for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Manchester, UK.

The Page 99 Test: Lab Coats in Hollywood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Russel D. McLean's "The Lost Sister," the TV movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Lost Sister by Russel D. McLean.

The entry begins:
Considering that both The Good Son and The Lost Sister have a recurring cast of characters, I've often thought more of a series of TV movies for the books, or maybe an adapted series. I'd love to keep things Scottish in location and cast, although this might present a few logistical problems for my ideal cast. Mostly that of convincing accents (let us not speak of Mel Gibson in Braveheart…)


J McNee - The “hero” of the books is a tough one to cast. I've always said I'd like to go unknown. But I would consider someone like  Robert Carlyle, although ten or fifteen years ago. Some people have suggested both David Tennant and James McAvoy, but both seem too fresh faced for the part. Although perhaps this is to do with the roles I have seen them in. McNee is young, but I always feel he looks lived in. Which is why I would go out on a limb and consider someone like Paddy Considine. But on one condition: he'd have to be able to do a convincing Scottish accent.

David Burns - is a recurring thorn in the side for McNee. A former thug turned “businessman”, he's got interests in all the city's criminal activity. He's a Godfather figure, worked his way up from poor beginnings to where he is now. He's a conflicted character, and I love that about him. Although physically I don't describe him as such, I've always thought of Dundee's own Brian Cox in the part. I just feel there's something he could bring to the role that would own it. Watch his turn in...[read on]
Learn more about The Lost Sister at Russel McLean's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Son.

Writers Read: Russel D. McLean.

My Book, The Movie: The Lost Sister.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Deb Caletti & Tucker

Today's featured duo at Coffee with a Canine: Deb Caletti and Tucker.

The author on the influence of Tucker and (the late) Jupiter on her fiction:
I think dogs make great characters, and Jupiter has appeared often in my books over the years. She was the model for the beagle Milo (a guy dog – sorry dear Jupiter) in The Nature of Jade.

Tucker's manners have been cleaned up a bit for his appearance as Rocket in The Six Rules of Maybe.

My latest book, though, The Story of Us (Simon & Schuster 2012), is really my Dog Book, featuring Jupiter as herself. A major theme of the book is dogs and our relationship with them – the ways that unique partnership enriches our lives. As well, it’s a book about life, loss and change within a family. It's a book for...[read on]
Learn more about the author and her books at Deb Caletti's website and Facebook page.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Deb Caletti and Tucker.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Amy Ellis Nutt reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Amy Ellis Nutt, author of Shadows Bright as Glass: The Remarkable Story of One Man's Journey from Brain Trauma to Artistic Triumph.

Her entry begins:
Because I have such a short span of attention, I’m usually juggling two or three books at once. Often one of them is poetry, my first love. Right now I’m re-reading Late for Work by David Tucker. He’s actually one of my editors at The Star-Ledger and his lyricism always inspires me. From “Detective Story”:

A breeze smelling of the river enters the room though

no river is near; the house is quiet and calm for no reason;

the search does end, the detective finally does sleep, far away

from anything he imagined, his dusty shoes still on.

Two friends recently...[read on]
Among the early praise for Shadows Bright As Glass:
"Shadows Bright As Glass is a fascinating glimpse into the mysteries of the mind, brain and creativity. Jon Sarkin wrestles with the great questions of the search for self, questions that concern us all."
--Alice Flaherty, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

"Fascinating… A mind-bending and inspiring book."
--Kirkus (starred review)

"Nutt exquisitely twins the inspirational and vexing story of Jon Sarkin, brain-damaged chiropractor turned renowned artist, with an account of humankind's eternal pursuit of the soul… Nutt's compelling narrative makes this is a real page-turner."
--Booklist (starred review)
Learn more about the book and author at Amy Ellis Nutt's website.

Amy Ellis Nutt has been a staff writer at The Star-Ledger newspaper in Newark, NJ since November 1997. She was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for her story “The Wreck of the Lady Mary,” which ran as a 20-page special section of The Star-Ledger in November 2010.

The Page 99 Test: Shadows Bright as Glass.

Writers Read: Amy Ellis Nutt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that helped shape Ian McEwan's novels

Ian McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and the Prix Fémina Etranger (1993) for The Child in Time; and Germany's Shakespeare Prize in 1999. He has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction numerous times, winning the award for Amsterdam in 1998. His novel Atonement received the WH Smith Literary Award (2002), National Book Critics' Circle Fiction Award (2003), Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction (2003), and the Santiago Prize for the European Novel (2004). He was awarded a CBE in 2000. In 2006, he won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel Saturday, and his novel On Chesil Beach was named Galaxy Book of the Year at the 2008 British Book Awards. McEwan has been named the Reader's Digest Author of the Year for 2008, the 2010 Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, and in 2011 was awarded the Jerusalem Prize. His most recent novel is Solar.

From McEwan's discussion about books that have helped shape his novels, with Alec Ash at FiveBooks:
What Science Offers the Humanities
by Edward Slingerland

Let’s start on your book selection. Your first choice is What Science Offers the Humanities, by Edward Slingerland. Tell us a little about the book first.

It’s a rather extraordinary and unusual book. It addresses some fundamental matters of interest to those of us whose education has been in the humanities. It’s a book that has received very little attention as far as I know, and deserves a lot more. Edward Slingerland’s own background is in Sinology. Most of us in the humanities carry about us a set of assumptions about what the mind is, or what the nature of knowledge is, without any regard to the discoveries and speculations within the biological sciences in the past 30 or 40 years. In part the book is an assault on the various assumptions and presumptions of postmodernism – and its constructivist notions of the mind.

Concepts that in neuroscience and cognitive psychology are now taken for granted – like the embodied mind – are alien to many in the humanities. And Slingerland addresses relativism, which is powerful and pervasive within the humanities. He wants to say that science is not just one more thought system, like religion; it has special, even primary, status because it’s derived from empiricism, or it’s predictive and coherent and does advance our understanding of the world. So rather than just accept at face value what some French philosopher invents about the mirror stage in infant development, Slingerland wants to show us where current understanding is, and where it’s developing, in fields such as cognition, or the relationship between empathy and our understanding on evil. Slingerland believes that there are orthodox views within the humanities which have been long abandoned by the sciences as untenable and contradictory.

I don’t need to ask what the influence on your novels is here, as science plays a big part in many of them – most noticeably in Solar, but also in Saturday and Enduring Love. What is the nature of your individual relationship, as a writer, with science?

I would like to inhabit a glorious mental space in which books like Slingerland’s would not need to be written. In other words – and this comes back to the notion of mental freedom – your average literary intellectual, just as much as your average research scientist, would take for granted a field of study in which the humanities and sciences were fluid, or lay along a spectrum of enquiry. This is the grand enlightenment dream of unified knowledge. If you think of the novel as an exploration or investigation into human nature, well, science undertakes a parallel pursuit. Of course, much science is concerned with the natural world, but increasingly it has invaded the territory of the novelist. Neuroscience routinely deals with issues not only of consciousness, but of memory, love, sorrow, and the nature of pain. I went to a fascinating lecture on revenge and the reward system by a German neuroscientist a few years ago.

I’m sometimes asked by a literary intellectual in an on-stage discussion – often through the medium of a puzzled frown – why I’m interested in science. As if I was being asked why I had a particular fascination for designs of differential gears in old Volkswagens, or car-parking regulations in Chicago in the 1940s. Science is simply organised human curiosity and we should all take part. It’s a matter of beauty. Just as we treasure beauty in our music and literature, so there’s beauty to be found in the exuberant invention of science.
Read about another book McEwan mentioned.

McEwan's novels are on the lists of ten of the best honeymoons in literature, ten of the best scenes on London Underground, ten of the best visits to Venice in literature, ten of the best balloon flights, ten of the best prime ministers in fiction, and the top ten books about the Berlin Wall.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pg. 99: Roger R. Reese's "Why Stalin’s Soldiers Fought"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Why Stalin’s Soldiers Fought: The Red Army’s Military Effectiveness in World War II by Roger R. Reese.

About the book, from the publisher:
Inept leadership, inefficient campaigning, and enormous losses would seem to spell military disaster. Yet despite these factors, the Soviet Union won its war against Nazi Germany thanks to what Roger Reese calls its “military effectiveness”: its ability to put troops in the field even after previous forces had been decimated.

Reese probes the human dimension of the Red Army in World War II through a close analysis of soldiers’ experiences and attitudes concerning mobilization, motivation, and morale. In doing so, he illuminates the Soviets’ remarkable ability to recruit and retain soldiers, revealing why so many were willing to fight in the service of a repressive regime—and how that service was crucial to the army’s military effectiveness. He examines the various forms of voluntarism and motivations to serve—including the influences of patriotism and Soviet ideology—and shows that many fought simply out of loyalty to the idea of historic Russia and hatred for the invading Germans. He also considers the role of political officers within the ranks, the importance of commanders who could inspire their troops, the bonds of allegiance forged within small units, and persistent fears of Stalin’s secret police.

Brimming with fresh insights, Reese’s study shows how the Red Army’s effectiveness in the Great Patriotic War was foreshadowed by its performance in the Winter War against Finland and offers the first direct comparison between the two, delving into specific issues such as casualties, tactics, leadership, morale, and surrender. Reese also presents a new analysis of Soviet troops captured during the early war years and how those captures tapped into Stalin’s paranoia over his troops’ loyalties. He provides a distinctive look at the motivations and experiences of Soviet women soldiers and their impact on the Red Army’s ability to wage war.

Ultimately, Reese puts a human face on the often anonymous Soviet soldiers to show that their patriotism was real, even if not a direct endorsement of the Stalinist system, and had much to do with the Red Army’s ability to defeat the most powerful army the world had ever seen.
Learn more about Why Stalin’s Soldiers Fought at the University Press of Kansas website.

Roger R. Reese is professor of history at Texas A&M University and author of Stalin’s Reluctant Soldiers: A Social History of the Red Army, 1925–1941; Red Commanders: A Social History of the Soviet Army Officer Corps, 1918–1991; and The Soviet Military Experience: A History of the Soviet Army, 1917–1991.

The Page 99 Test: Why Stalin’s Soldiers Fought.

--Marshal Zeringue

Colin Thubron's 6 favorite books about Asia

Colin Thubron is an acknowledged master of travel writing. His first books were about the Middle East—Damascus, Lebanon, and Cyprus. In 1982 he traveled in the Soviet Union, pursued by the KGB. From these early experiences developed his great travel books on the landmass that makes up Russia and Asia: Among the Russians; Behind the Wall: A Journey through China; The Lost Heart of Asia; In Siberia; Shadow of the Silk Road; and most recently, To a Mountain in Tibet.

One of his six favorite books about Asia, as told to The Week magazine:
Beijing Coma by Ma Jian

At once an indictment of and a monument to the Tiananmen Square massacre, this big novel, whose protagonist surveys 30 years of Chinese history from his sickbed, mounts to its climax with almost unbearable tension.
Read about another book on the list.

Beijing Coma is one of Catherine Sampson's top 10 books on Beijing; it made the Wall Street Journal's list of Asia's best books of 2008.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Gayle Forman reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Gayle Forman, author of If I Stay and Where She Went.

Her entry begins:
I’m always reading quite a bit of YA to keep up on what’s out there, and what’s out there right now is quite a bit of paranormal and dystopian. I must admit that lately I have shied away from anything with the following words in the flap copy: magic, witch, vampire, spirit, dragon, angel, werewolf, curse, power, haunt.

Luckily, sometimes I ignore my own rules because had I followed them more religiously, I might've missed some incredible reads.

Holly Black’s White Cat was more sexy noir than paranormal—it takes place in an alternate world in which certain magic practitioners (curse workers) are known, outlawed, and hence ruled by the mob. It was a fascinating story about a family of grifters, and the writing was sharp and gorgeous. I’m panting for...[read on]
Among the early praise for Where She Went:
"In the three years since the tragic accident Mia barely survived in If I Stay, she and high school ex-boyfriend Adam have lived separate lives on opposite coasts. But then Adam, now the dissatisfied front man of popular LA-based band Collateral Damage, stops over in New York City for one night before kicking off the European leg of his tour. It happens to be the same evening that Mia, now well on her way to becoming a renowned cellist, is performing at Carnegie Hall. Adam buys a ticket, planning to slip in and out, but Mia spots him and for the first time in years they’re face-to-face with each other and their shared past. Over the course of one evening, as Adam and Mia traverse the city’s streets, they relive the four days Mia spent in the intensive care unit as well as her departure to Juilliard and from the life she knew. Emotionally raw and incredibly moving, Gayle Forman again showcases her considerable talent for drawing complex characters who face impossible decisions and then bear the consequences. Equally as compelling as If I Stay, Where She Went is powerful, heartbreaking, and everything fans of Mia, Adam, and Forman could hope for.
--Jessica Schein, Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2011
Learn more about the book and author at Gayle Forman's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: If I Stay.

The Page 69 Test: Where She Went.

Writers Read: Gayle Forman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Douglas Corleone's "Night on Fire"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Night on Fire by Douglas Corleone.

About the book, from the publisher:
Kevin Corvelli---a hotshot New York defense attorney who packed up his bags and hung his shingle in Hawaii to dodge the spotlight---is deep in his mai tais at a resort when an argument erupts down at the other end of the bar. It’s a pair of newlyweds, married that very day on the beach. And since Corvelli doesn’t do divorces, he all but dismisses the argument.

That’s at least until the fire breaks out later that night, and he barely escapes his hotel room. Most weren’t so lucky, including the new husband. His wife, Erin, becomes not only the police’s prime suspect for arson and murder but also Corvelli’s newest client, and she has a lot working against her, like motive and opportunity, not to mention a history of starting fires.

The heat gets turned all the way up in Douglas Corleone’s scorching legal thriller Night on Fire, his second following the MB/MWA's First Crime Novel Competition winner, One Man’s Paradise.
Learn more about the book and author at Douglas Corleone's website.

The Page 69 Test: One Man's Paradise.

The Page 69 Test: Night on Fire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mark Russinovich's "Zero Day," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Zero Day by Mark Russinovich.

The entry begins:
Most of my friends and family members who’ve read drafts of Zero Day told me they thought that it reads like a movie, so I’ve been involved in constant debates and discussions about who would play the leading roles. Based on the passionate arguments, you’d think that the cases made for various nominees were serving as actual input for casting decisions. I know that the chances of having a book made into a movie make the chances of having a book published in the first place seem like a sure thing, but it’s fun to pretend.

There are several main characters, but just deciding who would be good fits for the protagonists has generated more than enough controversy that conversations have never gotten to picks for the secondary characters. Both leads, Jeff Aiken and Daryl Haugen, are intelligent, have cerebral jobs and are in their late 30’s or early 40’s. Jeff works as an independent security consultant and Daryl is assistant director of the Computer Infrastructure Security Unit at the Department of Homeland Security. Jeff is pretty straight-laced with a blazer, button down and khaki pants serving as his work uniform, while Daryl is feistier, an above average height blond and very attractive.

The selection of well-known actors that are in the right age bracket and that can play roles that are a mix of thought and action seems somewhat limited. James Franco was one of my favorites for Jeff and...[read on]
Read an excerpt from the novel, and learn more about the book and author at the Zero Day website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Zero Day.

Writers Read: Mark Russinovich.

My Book, The Movie: Zero Day.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Gerald Early's "A Level Playing Field"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: A Level Playing Field: African American Athletes and the Republic of Sports by Gerald L. Early.

About the book, from the publisher:
As Americans, we believe there ought to be a level playing field for everyone. Even if we don’t expect to finish first, we do expect a fair start. Only in sports have African Americans actually found that elusive level ground. But at the same time, black players offer an ironic perspective on the athlete-hero, for they represent a group historically held to be without social honor.

In his first new collection of sports essays since Tuxedo Junction (1989), the noted cultural critic Gerald Early investigates these contradictions as they play out in the sports world and in our deeper attitudes toward the athletes we glorify. Early addresses a half-century of heated cultural issues ranging from integration to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Writing about Jackie Robinson and Curt Flood, he reconstructs pivotal moments in their lives and explains how the culture, politics, and economics of sport turned with them. Taking on the subtexts, racial and otherwise, of the controversy over remarks Rush Limbaugh made about quarterback Donovan McNabb, Early restores the political consequence to an event most commentators at the time approached with predictable bluster.

The essays in this book circle around two perennial questions: What other, invisible contests unfold when we watch a sporting event? What desires and anxieties are encoded in our worship of (or disdain for) high-performance athletes?

These essays are based on the Alain Locke lectures at Harvard University’s Du Bois Institute.
Learn more about A Level Playing Field at the Harvard University Press website.

Gerald Early is Professor of English, African and African American Studies, and American Cultural Studies at Washington University in St. Louis.

The Page 99 Test: A Level Playing Field.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Rae Meadows reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Rae Meadows, author of Mothers and Daughters.

Her entry begins:
I went to a reading the other night at the Loft Literary Center here in Minneapolis, featuring the AWP Award Series winners for 2009: Kevin Fenton (Merit Badges) and Christine Sneed who won the Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction for her collection Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry. I’m not a very good listener at readings, my mind often drifting, but I was utterly taken with the story Christine read. So I’m reading her book. In the story “12 + 12” a woman is having an affair with her father’s friend whose own daughter was recently killed in a car accident. The tone of the narrator is quirkily upbeat, despite the deeply sad terrain, which somehow manages to make the story all the more poignant. These are richly rewarding stories, and I marvel at Christine’s mastery of the story form.

We moved to Minneapolis from Madison last fall, and all our books are still in boxes in the basement. My husband pulled out a box the other day and in it found...[read on]
Among the early praise for Mothers and Daughters:
“Rae Meadows has written a richly textured novel of three generations of mothers and daughters who by finding each other, find themselves. In these beautifully interwoven stories of birth and death, love and loss, Violet, Iris, and Samantha explore the genetic threads that connect each to the others. Mothers and Daughters is a powerful novel of women’s secrets and strength.”
—Sandra Dallas, New York Times best-selling author of Prayers for Sale and Whiter Than Snow

“A little girl boards New York’s orphan train at the turn of the 20th century and shapes generations to follow in this satisfying portrait of the many faces of motherhood.”

“A perfect book-club pick…What mothers leave daughters is loud and proud in this book… It will prime conversations about your own choices, which may change your whole sense of self, or at least make you feel not so alone.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A book you’ll want to sit and read straight through… It will have you considering your own choices and those of your mother: What has she chosen not to tell you? What happened before you? What do you want to know?”
Read an excerpt from Mothers and Daughters, and learn more about the book and author at Rae Meadows's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mothers and Daughters.

Writers Read: Rae Meadows.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best honeymoons in literature

For the Guardian, John Mullan named ten of the best honeymoons in literature.

One honeymoon on the list:
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Victor's monster has warned his creator that he will seek revenge for the destruction of the female mate that the scientist made for him. "Remember, I shall be with you on your wedding-night." Victor marries his cousin Elizabeth, and they head for a honeymoon on Lake Como. They only get as far as Evian before the monster strikes...
Read about another honeymoon on the list.

Frankenstein appears on Andrew Crumey's list of the top ten novels that predicted the future and Charlie Jane Anders's list of twenty mad scientists who turned against their creations.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pg. 69: Meg Waite Clayton's "The Four Ms. Bradwells"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton.

About the book, from the publisher:
Meg Waite Clayton’s national bestseller The Wednesday Sisters was a word-of-mouth sensation and book club favorite. Now the beloved author is back with a page-turning novel that explores the secrets we keep, even from those closest to us, and celebrates the enduring power of friendship.

Mia, Laney, Betts, and Ginger, best friends since law school, have reunited for a long weekend as Betts awaits Senate confirmation of her appointment to the Supreme Court. Nicknamed “the Ms. Bradwells” during their first class at the University of Michigan Law School in 1979—when only three women had ever served full Senate terms and none had been appointed to the Court—the four have supported one another through life’s challenges: marriages and divorces, births and deaths, career setbacks and triumphs large and small. Betts was, and still is, the Funny One. Ginger, the Rebel. Laney, the Good Girl. And Mia, the Savant.

But when the Senate hearings uncover a deeply buried skeleton in the friends’ collective closet, the Ms. Bradwells retreat to a summer house on the Chesapeake Bay, where they find themselves reliving a much darker period in their past—one that stirs up secrets they’ve kept for, and from, one another, and could change their lives forever.

Once again, Meg Waite Clayton writes inspiringly about the complex circumstances facing women and the heartfelt friendships that hold them together. Insightful and affecting, The Four Ms. Bradwells is also a captivating tale of how far people will go to protect the ones they love.
Read an excerpt from The Four Ms. Bradwells, and learn more about the book and author at Meg Waite Clayton's website and blog.

Meg Waite Clayton is the author of the national bestseller The Wednesday Sisters and The Language of Light, a finalist for the Bellwether Prize. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School.

The Page 69 Test: The Four Ms. Bradwells.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jonathan Dudley's "Broken Words"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics by Jonathan Dudley.

About the book, from the publisher:
Abortion. Homosexuality. Environmentalism. Evolution. Conservative positions on these topics are the current boundaries of mainstream Evangelical Christianity. But what if the theological arguments given by popular leaders on these “big four” were not quite as clear cut as they claim?

Growing up as an evangelical Christian, Jonathan Dudley was taught that faith was defined by the total rejection of abortion, homosexuality, evolution, and environmentalism. But once he had begun studying biology and ethics, his views began to change and he soon realized that what he had been told about the Bible – and those four big issues – may have been misconstrued. Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics assesses the scientific and cultural factors leading evangelicals to certain stances on each issue, shows where they went wrong, and critically challenges the scriptural, ethical, and biological arguments issued by those leaders today.

In Broken Words, Dudley applies the Bible and biology to challenge the fixed political dogmas of the religious right. Evangelicals are confronted for the first time from within their ranks on the extent to which faith has been corrupted by conservative politics, cultural prejudice and naive anti-intellectualism. A re-ordering of American Christianity is underway – and this book is an essential part of the conversation.
Learn more about the book and author at Jonathan Dudley's website.

Jonathan Dudley is a graduate of Yale's Divinity School and currently a M.D. student at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In Broken Words he writes about the evangelical Christian community that raised him.

The Page 99 Test: Broken Words.

--Marshal Zeringue

A reading list on stand-up comedy

At the Independent, Will Dean named a reading list on stand-up comedy. One of five books on the list:
Love All the People by Bill Hicks

Where [Stewart] Lee took apart his own work in [How I Escaped My Certain Fate], this collection of Hicks – the great comic inconoclast – released 10 years after his death, features transcripts of routines that allow the reader to see material evolve over a number of shows. It also includes ideas, letters and a long note to the writer John Lahr after his infamous booting from David Letterman' show.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What is Stephen Singular reading?

This weekend's featured contributor at Writers Read: Stephen Singular, author of The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle over Abortion.

His entry begins:
My wife Joyce and I are in a band that plays Latin jazz, standards, rock, and blues. She’s the singer and I’m the guitarist, so we’re always interested in stories about musicians. Last winter she read Just Kids by Patti Smith and suggested I give it a look. I did and really enjoyed the book, which focuses on Manhattan’s Chelsea Hotel and the music scene in the East Village in the 1970s. It chronicles Smith’s relationship as a young woman with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, but the most striking part is that the narrative is almost entirely about their lives before she achieved fame as a poet/rock star. The majority of celebrity bios talk about what happened after someone became rich and famous, and that’s often accompanied by a lot of name-dropping.

Smith does drop a few well-known monikers...[read on]
Among the early praise for The Wichita Divide:
"In this stirring account of the 2009 murder of Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, true crime veteran Singular (Unholy Messenger) presents a portrait not only of a man and his killer but of the national debate about abortion so rabid it led to murder. On Sunday, May 31, 2009, Scott Roeder walked into the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kans., and shot Tiller in the head. Tiller had been performing abortions—and most controversially, late-term abortions—at his women's health clinic since the 1970s, despite being the main target of many of the nation's most vitriolic pro-life groups. Roeder first became attracted to antitax fringe groups and drifted toward anti-abortion groups such as Operation Rescue, though after Tiller's murder none would outright condone his act. Though he claimed the "necessity defense"—that killing Tiller was necessary to prevent abortion—at trial, Roeder was convicted of first-degree murder. Singular, a Kansas native who also wrote about Wichita's infamous BTK killer, expertly folds in Tiller's life story and Roeder's steady decline with the blood-soaked history of the abortion debate."
--Publishers Weekly

"A disturbing, haunting journey into unrepentant hatred."
Watch Stephen Singular on The Rachel Maddow Show.

Learn more about The Wichita Divide and its author at Stephen Singular's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: The Wichita Divide.

Writers Read: Stephen Singular.

--Marshal Zeringue

Scott Mariani's "The Mozart Conspiracy," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Mozart Conspiracy by Scott Mariani.

The entry begins:
Especially now that my Ben Hope series has been optioned for film, lots of readers ask me who I see playing the lead role and come up with their own suggestions, ranging from Clive Owen to Jason Statham. I don’t have any particular actor in mind while writing Ben, although I can think of a few with the right qualities – it would have to be someone with the depth to bring out Ben’s more vulnerable and sensitive side, while maintaining his toughness and strength. Paul Bettany could do it very well, so could Ewan McGregor. Among the US talent, Leo DiCaprio would make an excellent Ben Hope, and I also like the idea of Timothy Olyphant in the role.

As for the character of Leigh Llewellyn, international opera star and Ben’s first true love, my vision of her has always been clear: she’s beautiful, she’s a singer, she’s...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at the official The Mozart Conspiracy website.

The Page 69 Test: The Mozart Conspiracy.

My Book, The Movie: The Mozart Conspiracy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top 5 non-religious books on living a good life

One title on A.C. Grayling's top 5 list of non-religious books on living a good life:
Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth, 2009

What could be a greater show than the story of life on this planet, evolving into myriads of intriguing, exotic, amazing forms over billions of years since the first minute organisms emerged from organic soup? Dawkins knows his stuff and writes superbly about it, giving a compelling biography of the descent of life through the eons. By understanding our place in the natural order, we can better understand what is good for human beings. Those who only know one side of Dawkins should experience the scientist and lover of nature for themselves.
Read about another book on the list.

Dawkins was asked, "[Is] it difficult for a creationist to read this book without feeling insulted? Won't that hurt your goal?" Learn how he answered.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 22, 2011

What is Russel D. McLean reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Russel D. McLean, author of The Good Son and The Lost Sister.

His entry begins:
In preparation for a Reader's Day at a Scottish Library later this year, I've been asked to select two books to discuss with readers. One of them has to be mine. The other is a book of my choosing. This has meant a lot of searching on my part. Here in the UK, so many authors I love (such as Lawrence Block) seem to be hard to find at the moment, while certain other titles have been rejected on strict terms I've set for myself. But it's been fun immersing myself in the books I love.

In the last week, I've read George Pelecanos's Drama City, which reminded me just why I love this man's work so much - the style, the attitude, the sheer power of his writing. Even on a second or third reading, you're suckered into his world. Drama City is especially good as the story of someone...[read on]
Among the early praise for The Lost Sister:
"[The Lost Sister] excels in establishing J. McNee as a character worth following, someone motivated by a desire to make up for previous failures, a P.I. capable of establishing distinction from so many of his wisecracking, philosophizing brethren."
--J. Kingston Pierce for Kirkus Reviews

"There’s a violent undercurrent always ready to surface in McLean’s gritty take-no-prisoners prose and storytelling. Once he begins, you are roped in to the end, regardless of how many excuses you make to yourself to put the book down. The noir trinities are keenly and astutely observed: Dirty. Bloody. Menacing. They are all here, delivered expertly by a telling hand."
--Sam Millar for New York Journal of Books

"...begins to open up McNee’s psychological baggage, making him more human and understandable...for readers who like Brian McGilloway and Michael Koryta, two authors who introduced fresh voices and individual takes on crime."
--Library Journal (starred review)
Learn more about The Lost Sister at Russel McLean's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Son.

Writers Read: Russel D. McLean.

--Marshal Zeringue