Friday, September 30, 2011

What is Nora McFarland reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Nora McFarland, author of A Bad Day's Work and Hot, Shot, and Bothered.

Her entry begins:
On a recent flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles I had the pleasure of reading The Crime Writer by Gregg Hurwitz. It’s the best book I’ve come across in a long time. Aside from the excellent pacing and characters, it evoked everything I love about The City of Angels. The atmosphere of tarnished glamour and unexpected violence is skillfully rendered. This is Los Angeles as Ross MacDonald or Raymond Chandler might portray it, were they writing today.

The main character is a thriller-writer who’s been convicted of murdering his former fiancée. With no memory of the crime, and released after earning a verdict of temporary insanity, he begins...[read on]
Among the early praise for Hot, Shot, and Bothered:
“Fun, funny, tautly suspenseful, and very smart. Lilly Hawkins is irresistible. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Spencer Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of Dog on It

“Lilly Hawkins is a terrific protagonist—a straight shooter with her heart in the right place. You’ll root for her from the very beginning of the feisty new mystery.”
—April Smith, author of the FBI Special Agent Ana Grey novels

“Lilly Hawkins, a "shooter" (news photographer) for KJAY-TV in Bakersfield, Calif., shows her mettle in McFarland's gritty, entertaining sequel to 2010's A Bad Day's Work....Readers will look forward to seeing a lot more of the gutsy, stubborn Lilly.”
Publishers Weekly
Learn more about the book and author at Nora McFarland's website.

My Book, The Movie: Nora McFarland's A Bad Day's Work.

Writers Read: Nora McFarland.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top 10 classical books

Madeline Miller was born in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. She attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. For the last ten years she has been teaching and tutoring Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students. She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA, where she teaches and writes. The Song of Achilles is her first novel.

From her list of ten favorite classical works, as told to the Guardian:
The Aeneid by Virgil

Virgil's tale of arms and a man and so much more. A gorgeously crafted piece of poetry, a story of adventure, a moral examination of violence and a plea for mercy, Virgil's masterful Roman founding myth provokes and haunts long after you've finished. The characters are drawn with sympathy and sensitivity, and above all total humanity: Virgil never shies away from their faults as well as their virtues. I particularly love book two, the tale of Troy's fall; its brutal portrait of Achilles' son Pyrrhus inspired my own.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Amy Smithson's "Germ Gambits"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Germ Gambits: The Bioweapons Dilemma, Iraq and Beyond by Amy Smithson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Arms control and nonproliferation treaties are among the fingers in the dike preventing the unthinkable nuclear, biological, and chemical catastrophe. For decades the ability to ascertain whether states are hiding germ weapons programs has been nonexistent because the 1975 bioweapons ban has no inspection measures. Yet, in 1995 a small United Nations inspection corps pulled off a spectacular verification feat in the face of concerted resistance from Iraq's Saddam Hussein and popular skepticism that it was even possible to conduct effective biological inspections. Working from sketchy intelligence—and hampered by the Iraqis' extensive concealment and deception measures—the inspectors busted open Iraq's cover stories and wrested a confession of biowarfare agent production from Baghdad. This rigorously researched book tells that compelling story through the firsthand accounts of the inspectors who, with a combination of intrepidness, ingenuity, and a couple of lucky breaks, took the lid off Iraq's bioweapons program and pulled off an improbable victory for peace and international security. The book concludes by drawing lessons from this experience that should be applied to help arrest future bioweapons programs, by placing the Iraq bioweapons saga in the context of other manmade biological risks, and by making recommendations to reduce those risks.

While written as an engaging, analytical historical narrative that explains what the biological inspectors knew, when and how they knew it, and how they outmaneuvered the Iraqis, this book's real contributions are the inspectors' blueprint to "get it right" with regard to the verification challenges associated with the bioweapons ban, and the author's roadmap to address the overall biological threats facing the world today.
Learn more about Germ Gambits at the Stanford University Press website.

Amy Smithson is a Senior Fellow at the Washington, D.C. Office of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies where she researches issues related to chemical and biological weapons proliferation, threat reduction mechanisms, and homeland security.

The Page 99 Test: Germ Gambits.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Paul La Farge's "Luminous Airplanes"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Luminous Airplanes by Paul La Farge.

About the novel, from the publisher:
A decade after the publication of Haussmann, or the Distinction, his acclaimed novel about nineteenth-century Paris, Paul La Farge turns his imagination to America at the dawn of the twenty-first century.

In September 2000, a young programmer comes home from a fes­tival in the Nevada desert and learns that his grandfather has died, and that he has to return to Thebes, a town which is so isolated that its inhabitants have their own language, in order to clean out the house where his family lived for five generations. While he’s there, he runs into Yesim, a Turkish American woman whom he loved as a child, and begins a romance in which past and present are dangerously confused. At the same time, he remembers San Francisco in the wild years of the Internet boom, and mourns the loss of Swan, a madman who may have been the only person to understand what was happening to the city, and to the world.

Luminous Airplanes has a singular form: the novel, complete in itself, is accompanied by an online “immersive text,” which continues the story and complements it. Nearly ten years in the making, La Farge’s ambitious new work considers large worlds and small ones, love, mem­ory, family, flying machines, dance music, and the end of the world.
Learn more about the book and author at Paul La Farge's website and Luminous Airplanes.

The Page 69 Test: Luminous Airplanes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What is Henri Cole reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Henri Cole, author of Touch (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011).

His entry begins:
My Queer War by James Lord—I miss James Lord, the biographer and memoirist, who died in 2009. His sane, incisive remembrances of others are always shrewd self-portraits. This book traces his career in the armed forces, beginning in 1942, from Nevada and California to France and Germany, a journey which brings him to terms with his sexuality while making acquaintances with the likes of Picasso and...[read on]
Among the early praise for Touch:
Cole’s eighth book of poems may be his most sensitive (in the manner of a compass needle), pointing as precisely as possible to the various sources of a lifetime’s fragility and emotional power. Written mostly in the pseudo-sonnets he’s developed in his recent books, these poems take long, at times excruciating looks at memories that Cole’s speakers must force themselves to learn from, as in “Dead Mother,” in which “five or six tears—profound,/ unflinching, humane—ran out of her skull,/ breathtakingly heroic.” With the same power of attention, Cole also watches the self slowly passing away: “My hair went away in the night while I was sleeping./ It sauntered along the avenue asking, ‘Why/ should I commit myself to him?.../... Then my good stiff prick went, too.” It’s as if Cole’s extreme attention manages, somehow, to simultaneously magnify and sooth aloneness, a mystery like the one into which a pair of free canaries fly in the book’s title poem: “Though they didn’t know where they were going,/ they made their prettiest song of all.”
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Learn more about the book and author at Henri Cole's website.

Writers Read: Henri Cole (December 2009).

Writers Read: Henri Cole.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top 10 fantasy books for children

Charlie Higson is a comedian as well as the bestselling author of the Young Bond series of novels and adult crime novels including King of the Ants. His new novel is The Fear.

For the Guardian, he named a top ten list of fantasy books for children.

One title on the list:
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling

Potter is classic fantasy. An ordinary wimpy kid in glasses suddenly finds out that he is something special and enters a magic realm via flying motorbike and enchanted station platform. Who among us has not dreamed of finding a hidden door to another reality? Kids' books are full of them, whether it's in a wardrobe, down a rabbit hole, or, as in Steven Butler's recent book, The Wrong Pong, down the loo. And who among us has not dreamed of developing superpowers? I won't hear a word against JKR. She's done more for children's books than any writer since, I don't know, Enid Blyton. She'd got kids reading and adults talking about children's books. She's a great writer for kids. The books are engrossing, exciting, detailed and it's as if she's used a secret page-turning magic spell on them. I wouldn't have started writing for kids if it wasn't for Jo, so I will always thank her for that.
Read about another book on the list.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone also appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best scars in fiction and ten of the best motorbikes in literature, and Justin Scroggie's top ten list of books with secret signs as well as Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs's list of well-known and beloved science fiction and fantasy novels that publishers didn't want to touch.

Also see Charlie Higson's top ten horror books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jeanne Guillemin's "American Anthrax"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: American Anthrax: Fear, Crime, and the Investigation of the Nation's Deadliest Bioterror Attack by Jeanne Guillemin.

About the book, from the publisher:
From Jeanne Guillemin, one of the world's leading experts on anthrax and bioterrorism, the definitive account of the anthrax investigation

It was the most complex case in FBI history. In what became a seven-year investigation that began shortly after 9/11—with America reeling from the terror attacks of al Qaeda—virulent anthrax spores sent through the mail killed Bob Stevens, a Florida tabloid photo editor. His death and, days later, the discovery in New York and Washington, D.C. of letters filled with anthrax sent shock waves through the nation. Federal agencies were blindsided by the attacks, which eventually killed five people. Taken off guard, the FBI struggled to combine on-the-ground criminal investigation with progress in advanced bioforensic analyses of the letters' contents.

While the criminal eluded justice, disinformation swirled around the letters, erroneously linking them to Iraq's WMD threat and foreign bioterrorism. Without oversight, billions were lavished on biomedical defenses against anthrax and other exotic diseases. Worst of all, faith in federal justice faltered.

American Anthrax is a gripping tale of terror, intrigue, madness, and cover-up.
Learn more about American Anthrax at the publisher's website.

Jeanne Guillemin, a senior fellow at MIT’s Security Studies Program within the Center for International Studies, is the author of two previous books on the history of biological weapons.

The Page 99 Test: American Anthrax.

--Marshal Zeringue

Terra Elan McVoy's "The Summer of Firsts and Lasts," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy.

The entry begins:
When I was writing The Summer of Firsts and Lasts, the whole thing was such a movie in my head,that it’s hard to think about what it would look like as a movie in real life! That said, I think I was definitely influenced by summer camp movies while I was writing, including Little Darlings and Wet Hot American Summer. At least in terms of getting the energy and tone of summer camp down.

Since tone is so important, I’d ask Amy Heckerling, director of Clueless, one of my favorite teen films, to direct. Though the characters and settings in that film and my book are all really different, I think she’d get the fun, bouncy, teenage-drama vibe just right.

In terms of casting, I wouldn’t want...[read on]
Visit Terra Elan McVoy's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Terra Elan McVoy is also the author of Pure and After the Kiss.

My Book, The Movie: The Summer of Firsts and Lasts.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What is Dave Zeltserman reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writers Read: Dave Zeltserman, author of A Killer's Essence.

His entry begins:
I just finished Richard Stark's The Seventh. This is a classic crime novel where a heist gets pulled off successfully and then everything that can go wrong afterwards goes wrong. The title "The Seventh" comes from the book being Stark's (Donald Westlake's) seventh Parker novel, and that each of the seven members of the crew for the heist are going to split one seventh of the take, but the title also serves as...[read on]
Among the early praise for A Killer's Essence:
"There's a lot going on in this novel, but Zeltserman meshes everything skilfully while moving the story along like a rocket, and he wraps everything up in under 250 pages. Mark this one up as another big hit in Zeltserman's current winning streak and be sure to check it out when it becomes available next month. You'll be glad you did."
--Bill Crider

"...proving just how adept he is at yet another cross-genre category, (let’s call this one a quasi-procedural, horror/thriller, that okay with you?) Whether it’s the William Powell/Myrna Loy Thin Man-esque Julius Katz and Archie, the dark-heart territory of his Man Out of Prison trilogy (Small Crimes, Pariah, Killer), the vampiric thrills of Blood Crimes or the supernatural-tinged horror of Caretaker of Lorne Field, Zeltserman seems at home and in charge wherever he parks his pen."
--Jedidiah Ayres, Barnes & Noble Ransom Notes

"Zeltserman’s lean but muscular style, so evident in “Killer’’ and “The Caretaker of Lorne Field,’’ is just as sharply honed here. His ability to juggle Green’s story and Lynch’s, develop a riveting murder mystery, and even mix in some Brighton Beach ex-KGB sleazeballs, all in less than 250 pages, is a pretty neat page-turning trick."
--Boston Globe
Learn more about the book and author at Dave Zeltserman's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Small Crimes.

The Page 69 Test: Pariah.

The Page 69 Test: Outsourced.

Writers Read: Dave Zeltserman (February 2011).

My Book, The Movie: Outsourced.

The Page 69 Test: A Killer's Essence.

Writers Read: Dave Zeltserman.

--Marshal Zeringue

The 10 best songs based on books

At The Observer, Mark O'Connell came up with ten of the best songs based on books.

One entry on the list:
Bruce Springsteen

The Ghost of Tom Joad

The Ghost of Tom Joad is the Boss at the top of his game. Tom Joad – the hero of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath – is not the only ghostly presence here. Woody Guthrie’s The Ballad of Tom Joad, which draws from the same literary source, is in attendance, and Bob Dylan’s influence is apparent. The injustices of the present – homelessness and police brutality – haunt the song as much as the ghosts of the past. Speaking of injustice, the song has been covered by Rage Against the Machine, but the less said about that the better
Read about another entry on the list.

The Grapes of Wrath also appears on John Kerry's list of five books on progressivism, Stephen King's five best list of books on globalization, John Mullan's list of ten of the best pieces of fruit in literature, and Honor Blackman's six best books list. It is one of Frederic Raphael's top ten talkative novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Lucia Greenhouse’s "fathermothergod"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science by Lucia Greenhouse.

About the book, from the publisher:
Lucia Ewing had what looked like an all-American childhood. She lived with her mother, father, sister, and brother in an affluent suburb of Minneapolis, where they enjoyed private schools, sleep-away camps, a country club membership, and skiing vacations. Surrounded by a tight-knit extended family, and doted upon by her parents, Lucia had no doubt she was loved and cared for. But when it came to accidents and illnesses, Lucia’s parents didn't take their kids to the doctor's office--they prayed, and called a Christian Science practitioner.

fathermothergod is Lucia Greenhouse's story about growing up in Christian Science, in a house where you could not be sick, because you were perfect; where no medicine, even aspirin, was allowed. As a teenager, her visit to an ophthalmologist created a family crisis. She was a sophomore in college before she had her first annual physical. And in December 1985, when Lucia and her siblings, by then young adults, discovered that their mother was sick, they came face-to-face with the reality that they had few--if any--options to save her. Powerless as they watched their mother’s agonizing suffering, Lucia and her siblings struggled with their own grief, anger, and confusion, facing scrutiny from the doctors to whom their parents finally allowed them to turn, and stinging rebuke from relatives who didn’t share their parents’ religious values.

In this haunting, beautifully written book, Lucia pulls back the curtain on the Christian Science faith and chronicles its complicated legacy for her family. At once an essentially American coming-of-age story and a glimpse into the practices of a religion few really understand, fathermothergod is an unflinching exploration of personal loss and the boundaries of family and faith.
Learn more about the book and author at Lucia Greenhouse's website.

The Page 99 Test: fathermothergod.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Dominic Smith's "Bright and Distant Shores"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Bright and Distant Shores by Dominic Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
They were showing the savages on the rooftop—that was the word at the curbstone.

Dominic Smith’s third novel—Bright and Distant Shores—is set amid the skyscrapers of 1890s Chicago and the far-flung islands of the South Pacific.

Chicago First Equitable has won the race to construct the world’s tallest building and its president, Hale Gray, hits upon a surefire way to make it an enduring landmark: to establish on the roof an exhibition of real-life “savages.” He sponsors a South Seas voyage to collect not only weaponry and artefacts, but also “several natives related by blood” for the company’s rooftop spectacle. Caught up in this scheme are two orphans—Owen Graves, an itinerant trader from Chicago’s South Side, and Argus Niu, a mission houseboy in the New Hebrides. At the cusp of the twentieth century, the expedition forces a collision course between the tribal and the civilized, and between two young men plagued by their haunting pasts.
Learn more about Bright and Distant Shores at Dominic Smith's website.

Smith's previous novels are The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre and The Beautiful Miscellaneous.

The Page 69 Test: The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre.

The Page 69 Test: Bright and Distant Shores.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What is Valerie Frankel reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writers Read: Valerie Frankel, author of It's Hard Not to Hate You.

The entry begins:
Just finished The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Not to minimize the wonderful use of language (including a few words I had to look up), the story is, basically, Harry Potter goes to college, gets drunk, gets laid and meets a gay person. The MC is Quentin Coldwater, a geeky smart boy in perpetual longing for something he can't quite name. Hogwarts is reimagined as Brakebills, a super selective college in upstate New York with classes on practical magic and theory. During his undergrad years, Quentin undergoes the personal discovery process and learns as much about himself as he does in the classroom. He drinks and sleeps around as a...[read on]
About It's Hard Not to Hate You, from the publisher:
From the author of THIN IS THE NEW HAPPY comes a hilarious new memoir about embracing your Inner Hater. In the midst of a health and career crisis, Valerie uncorks years of pent up rage, and discovers you don't have to be happy to be happy. You don’t have to love everyone else to like yourself. And that your Bitchy Twin might just be your funniest, most valuable and honest ally.

“The hate in you has got to come out.” After being advised to reduce stress by her doctor, humorist Valerie Frankel realized the biggest source of pressure in her life was maintaining an unflappable easing-going persona. After years of glossing over the negative, Frankel goes on a mission of emotional honesty, vowing to let herself feel and express all the toxic emotions she’d long suppressed or denied: jealousy, rage, greed, envy, impatience, regret. Frankel reveals her personal History of Hate, from mean girls in junior high, selfish boyfriends in her twenties and old professional rivals. Hate stomps through her current life, too, with snobby neighbors, rude cell phone talkers, scary doctors and helicopter moms. Regarding her husband, she asks, “How Do I Hate You? Let Me Count the Ways.” (FYI: There are three.) By the end of her authentic emotional experience, Frankel concludes that toxic emotions are actually good for you. The positive thinkers, aka, The Secret crowd, have it backwards. Trying to ward off negativity was what’d been causing Frankel’s career stagnation, as well as her health and personal problems. With the guidance of celebrity friends like Joan Rivers and psychic Mary T. Browne, Frankel now uses anger, jealousy and impatience as tools to be a better, balanced and deeper person. IT'S HARD NOT TO HATE YOU sends the message that there are no wrong emotions, only wrong ways of dealing with them.
Learn more about the book and author at Valerie Frankel's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: It's Hard Not to Hate You.

Writers Read: Valerie Frankel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best books on Germans and Germany

Steve Kettmann, an American living in Berlin since 1999, is the author, co-author or editor of eight books, including four New York Times best-sellers. He has written a weekly column for East Berlin's Berliner Zeitung and is now at work on a memoir about German-American and German identity.

One of his recommended books about Germany and Germans--"in which neither the word 'Third' nor 'Reich' figures prominently and one finds nary a reference to that failed artist from Linz, Austria"--as told to The Daily Beast:
Stasiland: Stories From Behind the Berlin Wall, by Anna Funder

Anna Funder started studying German back in Australia, much to the chagrin of her parents, who found the language coarse and disturbing, but she continued and moved to Berlin to study in the years after the wall came down. She had a fascination with East Germany shared by many others who moved to Berlin in those years, but took it farther than most, and the portraits she sketches of the people left behind by the political change have been celebrated by both Germans and non-Germans as offering a deeper look. Still, this is also her book, in which her voice is strong, and one theme is how in looking for others we hope to find ourselves. Sample: “I first visited in Leipzig in 1994, nearly five years after the Wall fell in November 1989. East Germany still felt like a secret walled-in garden, a place lost in time. It wouldn't have surprised me if things had tasted different here—apples like pears, say, or wine like blood.”
Read about another book on Kettmann's list.

Also see, Steve Ozment's five best books about Germany & Germans.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jenny Diski's "What I Don't Know About Animals"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: What I Don't Know About Animals by Jenny Diski.

About the book, from the publisher:
What does novelist, essayist, and memoirist Jenny Diski know about animals? She wasn't really sure as she began to write this book, and she may not be sure now. But of this she is certain: our relationships with, and attitudes toward, animals are really worth thinking about. In What I Don't Know About Animals, she shows why.

Diski sets out on her wide-ranging investigation by remembering the stuffed cuddly creatures from her childhood, the animal books she read, the cartoons she watched, the strays she found. She considers the animals who have lived and still live with her (most especially Bunty the cat), animals she has encountered close up, and those she has feared. She examines human beings, too, and how they have looked at, studied, treated, and written about the non-human creatures of our shared planet. Ranging still further, the author interviews scientists, discusses Derrida and his cat, and observes elephants in Kenya, always seeking the key to the complex relationship we in the modern West have with animals.

Subtle, intelligent, and always engaging, this book is a brilliant exploration of what it means to be human and what it means to be animal, and the uncertainty of what we can know about either.
Learn more about the book and author at Jenny Diski's website and the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Jenny Diski's The Sixties.

The Page 99 Test: What I Don't Know About Animals.

--Marshal Zeringue

Peggy Webb's Southern Cousins Mystery Series, the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Peggy Webb's Southern Cousins Mystery Series.

Webb's entry begins:
I’ve had many fans tell me the comedic Southern Cousins Mystery Series should be made into a movie. In fact, an independent filmmaker is currently pitching it as a TV series! We’ll see how all that goes. A writer girl could go gray waiting for Hollywood. Oh, wait a minute…I’m already going gray.

If I had my ‘druthers, who would I get to play the roles of the Valentine cousins and their assorted friends and family? Who would be the voice of Elvis, the basset hound who thinks he’s the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Morgan Freeman has a beautiful voice, but he’s a bit too serious-sounding for this sassy, sleuthing basset hound. I’d like to have Brad Pitt. Really, who wouldn’t? What I mean is, I’d like to have Brad do the voice of Elvis. What an attitude and a huge presence he could bring to the screen! Just right for the King of Everything!

Kate...[read on]
Learn more about the books and author at Peggy Webb's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: Peggy Webb's Southern Cousins Mystery Series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 26, 2011

What is Jason Webster reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Jason Webster, author of Or the Bull Kills You.

His entry begins:
I’m attending the Wigtown Book Festival in Scotland at the end of September and have been asked to talk briefly about a ‘lost classic’. So I’ve been flicking through a wonderful book that has been sitting on my shelves for some years now - What’s What! Published in 1902, it was meant to be something of an accompaniment to Who’s Who? But where the latter gave the names of the great and the good of the land, What’s What! was more an encyclopaedia, or an attempt to define what an Edwardian gentleman was supposed to know, and even think. ‘A guide for to-day for life as it is and things as they are.’

There are entries on everything from ‘Cataracts: Treatment of’ to ‘Comparison of English, German, French and Italian as singing languages’, ‘Devil-Worship in France’, ‘Hats, Prices of,’ and ‘The American Civil Service: its “sweet reasonableness”.’

Perhaps you’re suffering from consumption? Well, the authors have a list of...[read on]
Among the early praise for Or the Bull Kills You:
"The Spanish city of Valencia looks dazzling in Jason Webster's first novel. Even as the violence escalates and the symbolism thickens, the estimable Inspector Camara remains open-minded, if a bit cynical, about the grand follies of his beautiful city."
--The New York Times

"Webster...makes his scenes easy to visualize, uses believable dialog, and plays out the investigation in an assured manner. The author’s marvelously structured mystery not only reveals the complex politics behind bullfighting but also introduces us to colorful, tragic, and empathetic characters. The city of Valencia is a character as well, so strong is the sense of place...With its rapid pace and wonderfully flawed detective, this vibrant novel has tremendous appeal."
--Library Journal (starred review)

"[A] remarkable first novel, a baffling mystery...Webster makes the bullfighting integral to the plot rather than a mere backdrop, effortlessly conveying the role of the sport in Spanish society. The well-rounded lead--cynical, willing to bend the rules, emotionally wounded--should be more than capable of sustaining a long series."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Learn more about the book and author at Jason Webster's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Or the Bull Kills You.

The Page 69 Test: Or the Bull Kills You.

Writers Read: Jason Webster.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best books about religious cults in antiquity

Mary Beard is a classics professor at the University of Cambridge and author of The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found and The Roman Triumph.

For the Wall Street Journal, she named a five best list of books on religious cults in antiquity.

One title on the list:
The Gnostic Gospels
by Elaine Pagels (1979)

The early-Christian "Jesus cult" was very different from the organized Christianity of our own age, as Elaine Pagels showed in this classic study of the so-called "heretical" traditions of Christianity in the first few centuries after Jesus' death—that is to say, all those diverse traditions that the church establishment later took care to brand as wrong. Some of the most vivid evidence for these alternative Christianities comes from the Nag Hammadi library, an extraordinary cache of religious texts written in Coptic in the third or fourth centuries and unearthed near Luxor, Egypt, in 1945. Placed center-stage in Pagels's account, they offer an unsettling version of Christianity—one in which Jesus is the lover of Mary Magdalene and ideas such as the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection are treated as naïve fantasies.
Read about another book on the list.

The Page 99 Test: The Roman Triumph.

The Page 99 Test: The Fires of Vesuvius.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Donna Hicks's "Dignity"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Dignity: The Essential Role It Plays in Resolving Conflict in Our Lives and Relationships by Donna Hicks.

About the book, from the publisher:
The desire for dignity is universal and powerful. It is a motivating force behind all human interaction—in families, in communities, in the business world, and in relationships at the international level. When dignity is violated, the response is likely to involve aggression, even violence, hatred, and vengeance. On the other hand, when people treat one another with dignity, they become more connected and are able to create more meaningful relationships. Surprisingly, most people have little understanding of dignity, observes Donna Hicks in this important book. She examines the reasons for this gap and offers a new set of strategies for becoming aware of dignity's vital role in our lives and learning to put dignity into practice in everyday life.

Drawing on her extensive experience in international conflict resolution and on insights from evolutionary biology, psychology, and neuroscience, the author explains what the elements of dignity are, how to recognize dignity violations, how to respond when we are not treated with dignity, how dignity can restore a broken relationship, why leaders must understand the concept of dignity, and more. Hicks shows that by choosing dignity as a way of life, we open the way to greater peace within ourselves and to a safer and more humane world for all.
Learn more about the book and author at Donna Hicks's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: Dignity.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Dave Zeltserman's "A Killer's Essence"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: A Killer's Essence by Dave Zeltserman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Stan Green is a New York City Homicide Detective who has seen better days. As his family life threatens to disintegrate and his work partner disappears, he is assigned to the most shocking case of his career–a strange and remarkably violent murder. Stan must look into the crime alone. He finds just one witness, a neurologically disabled recluse who sees through the souls of others as demonic hallucinations. As more murders occur, and he drifts further from his family and friends, Stan's suspicion and rage escalate. Soon he realizes that the deaths fall into the pattern of a serial killer--and starts to believe that his witness is not at all insane, but terrifyingly perceptive...
Learn more about the author and his work at Dave Zeltserman's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Small Crimes.

The Page 69 Test: Pariah.

The Page 69 Test: Outsourced.

Writers Read: Dave Zeltserman.

My Book, The Movie: Outsourced.

The Page 69 Test: A Killer's Essence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Barbara Freethy's "Silent Run" and "Silent Fall," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Silent Run and Silent Fall by Barbara Freethy.

The entry begins:
Silent Run and Silent Fall are romantic suspense novels linked by two brothers, Jake and Dylan Sanders. There are a lot of hot, young actors making great movies right now, but I really need men in these roles.

In Silent Run, Jake thinks he has it all - a loving wife, a beautiful newborn daughter - until his wife wakes up in the hospital with no memory of him - or the whereabouts of their baby. Even though he's tall and sexy with dark hair and green eyes I think it's more important an actor match his intensity and purpose in putting his family back together. For that combination of athleticism, drive and yearning, I have to pick Tim...[read on]
Learn more about the author and novels at Barbara Freethy's website.

My Book, The Movie: Silent Run and Silent Fall.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best thin men in literature

At the Guardian, John Mullan named ten of the best thin men in literature.

One entry on the list:
Oscar Hopkins

The red-haired 19th-century clergyman with a penchant for gambling who is one of Peter Carey's two leading characters in Oscar and Lucinda is nicknamed "Odd Bod" because he has the physique of a gawky scarecrow. Here at last is a thin man who is lovable for his physical (and emotional) awkwardness.
Read about another entry on the list.

Oscar and Lucinda also appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best card games in literature, the Guardian's list of ten of the best unconsummated passions in fiction, and Elise Valmorbida's top ten list of books on the migrant experience.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is William Giraldi reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: William Giraldi, author of Busy Monsters.

His entry begins:
Alistair MacLeod's story collection Island is a solemn masterpiece. The solemnity is located primarily in the prose; though simple, declarative, and concrete – MacLeod has clearly been influenced by the early Hemingway – there is a fable-like eeriness to his style as he tells the stories of spiritually deprived people living an austere life in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. MacLeod’s is an austerity worthy of Jack London, and yet London cannot match the haunting beauty of MacLeod’s narratives and the prose that sustains them. Without purple poetics or elusive abstractions, the prose often builds to a lulling, hypnotic effect, and once it has pulled you into MacLeod’s world, it feels...[read on]
Among the early praise for Busy Monsters:
Busy Monsters may be the best literary present you could bring to a brainy guy’s bachelor party. It boasts lots of gonzo adventure, wacky sex and an endorsement by Harold Bloom ... William Giraldi’s cocky first novel is a romance for real men—real nerdy men willing to fight for a woman’s heart.... These busy antics are awfully funny, particularly his scheme to impress Gillian by capturing Big Foot with the help of a crazy hunter-scholar named Romp ... Hijinks keep spiking through this screwball narrative, but what really keeps pumping it alive is that impossibly odd and self-conscious voice, a mixture of 19th-century gentility and modern hipster.... It’s irresistibly strange.... [Giraldi] has used this young lover’s manic, incongruous voice to produce one of the weirdest comic novels of the year. And he has a delicate sweetness that shows through at just the right moments in what is, after all, a very old, romantic story."
Ron Charles, The Washington Post

"Comedy, satire, farce, language ... Busy Monsters has the kind of agenda that gives heft to the picaresque novels from which it is derived."
The New York Times Book Review

“In his riotous debut novel—up there with, say, James Wilcox's Modern Baptists—Giraldi tells the story of Charles Homar, a jilted fiancé who embarks on a hilariously ill-advised odyssey to win back his beloved.... Charles's journey—filled with offbeat characters, seen through a perfectly skewed worldview, and related in an idiosyncratic voice—might remind readers of the one taken by the equally wrong-headed Ray Midge in Charles Portis's comic masterpiece, The Dog of the South.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Here we have a seriocomic picaresque that references everything from The Odyssey to medieval romances to Don Quixote and Moby-Dick. A brilliant first novel that may well be in the running for 2011's literary awards."
Library Journal (starred review)
Learn more about the book and author at the Busy Monsters website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: William Giraldi.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pg. 99: Craig Harline’s "Conversions"

This weekend's feature at the Page 99 Test: Conversions: Two Family Stories from the Reformation and Modern America by Craig Harline.

About the book, from the publisher:
This powerful and innovative work by a gifted cultural historian explores the effects of religious conversion on family relationships, showing how the challenges of the Reformation can offer insight to families facing similarly divisive situations today.

Craig Harline begins with the story of young Jacob Rolandus, the son of a Dutch Reformed preacher, who converted to Catholicism in 1654 and ran away from home, causing his family to disown him. In the companion story, Michael Sunbloom, a young American, leaves his family's religion in 1973 to convert to Mormonism, similarly upsetting his distraught parents. The modern twist to Michael's story is his realization that he is gay, causing him to leave his new church, and upsetting his parents again—but this time the family reconciles.

Recounting these stories in short, alternating chapters, Harline underscores the parallel aspects of the two far-flung families. Despite different outcomes and forms, their situations involve nearly identical dynamics and heart-wrenching choices. Through the author's deeply informed imagination, the experiences of a seventeenth-century European family are transformed into immediately recognizable terms.
Learn more about Conversions at the Yale University Press website.

Craig Harline is the author of Sunday: A History of the First Day From Babylonia to the Super Bowl, and several other books from Yale University Press. He is Professor of History in the Department of History at Brigham Young University.

The Page 99 Test: Conversions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Gal Beckerman's 6 favorite books about political movements

Gal Beckerman is the opinion editor at The Forward. He was a longtime editor and staff writer at the Columbia Journalism Review and has also written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. He was a Fellow at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Berlin and the recipient of a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. His first book, When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone, a history of the Soviet Jewry movement, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in September 2010. It was named was one of the best books of the year by The New Yorker and the Washington Post, as well as winning the 2010 National Jewish Book Award.

One of his six favorite books about political movements, as told to The Week magazine:
Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch

The first volume of Branch's mammoth, brilliant biography of Martin Luther King Jr. does much, much more than tell us about the man. Branch manages to draw in every significant 1960s character and bit of zeitgeist, placing King in the full context of his times. Any book on a social movement needs to measure itself against Branch's achievement.
Read about another book on Beckerman's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jason Webster's "Or the Bull Kills You"

This weekend's feature at the Page 69 Test: Or the Bull Kills You by Jason Webster.

About the book, from the publisher:
An accomplished debut mystery set in the high-stakes and decidedly murky world of bullfighting in Valencia, Spain

"Either you kill the bull, or the bull kills you." Chief Inspector Max Cámara thinks in proverbs,and he hates one thing above all: bullfighting. One hot afternoon in Valencia, however, he has to stand in for his boss, judging a festival corrida starring Spain’s most famous young matador. That night, he is back in the bullring, and what he finds on the blood-stained sand shocks the city of Valencia to its core. Cámara is roped into investigating a grisly murder while dealing with violent shadows from his own past, as well as confronting the suspiciousness of the bullfighting community and the stonewalling of local politicians in full electoral campaign. To top it all, Fallas, the loudest fiesta in the country, has just got underway. For Cámara, it seems his problems have only just begun...
Learn more about the book and author at Jason Webster's website and blog.

Jason Webster was born in California and was brought up in England and Germany. After spells in Italy and Egypt, he moved to Spain in 1993, where he was inspired to write a number of highly acclaimed nonfiction titles. He lives near Valencia with his wife, the flamenco dancer, Salud, and their son.

My Book, The Movie: Or the Bull Kills You.

The Page 69 Test: Or the Bull Kills You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pg. 99: David Freidenreich's "Foreigners and Their Food"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Foreigners and Their Food: Constructing Otherness in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Law by David M. Freidenreich.

About the book, from the publisher:
Foreigners and Their Food explores how Jews, Christians, and Muslims conceptualize “us” and “them” through rules about the preparation of food by adherents of other religions and the act of eating with such outsiders. David M. Freidenreich analyzes the significance of food to religious formation, elucidating the ways ancient and medieval scholars use food restrictions to think about the “other.” Freidenreich illuminates the subtly different ways Jews, Christians, and Muslims perceive themselves, and he demonstrates how these distinctive self-conceptions shape ideas about religious foreigners and communal boundaries. This work, the first to analyze change over time across the legal literatures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, makes pathbreaking contributions to the history of interreligious intolerance and to the comparative study of religion.
Read more about Foreigners and Their Food at the University of California Press website.

David M. Freidenreich is the Pulver Family Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at Colby College.

The Page 99 Test: Foreigners and Their Food.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Caitlin Horrocks reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Caitlin Horrocks, author of the story collection, This Is Not Your City.

Her entry begins:
I just finished the short story collection For Sale By Owner by Kelcey Parker. The jacket copy describes these as “tales of twisted domesticity,” and I’d heard Kelcey read one of her stories out loud before I started her book, about a woman who gives up her family for Lent, sleeping at a local motel and eating fish sandwiches at the Hooters down the street. But somehow I still wasn’t fully prepared for how delightfully “twisted” these stories are: the characters have largely achieved the things they thought they wanted, the things they were supposed to want—husband, children, suburban McMansions. But they find themselves dissatisfied: “How had she ended up in this unfamiliar, even unreal, life? She hadn’t, like her daughter, wished to be a mermaid. She had not wished for the impossible.” This is a familiar refrain, in both life and fiction, but Parker strives mightily, and successfully, to make...[read on]
Among the praise for This Is Not Your City:
"Plimpton Prize–winner Horrocks effortlessly navigates the comedy and bewilderment of being middle class without an ounce of condescension, martyrdom, or sensationalism.... [A] stellar collection...."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Horrocks’s stories share one consuming fixation. We live in a world studded with cruelty. Humans inflict it; the world inflicts it. How do we live with this bewildering truth?... [An] appealingly rugged-hearted collection...
--Robin Romm, New York Times Book Review

"Horrocks expertly grounds dramatic, potentially outlandish plots with precise, recognizable emotions. Like Alice Munro and Jhumpa Lahiri, she has a talent for finding the heartbreaking quotidian detail."
--J.T. Hill, Book Slut

"'This Is Not Your City' offers much more than bold plotlines. These are delicate, character-driven stories whose distinct narrators demonstrate the hand of a remarkably versatile writer.... 'This Is Not Your City' abounds with echoing passages like these, observed in honest, everyday language. Caitlin Horrocks is writing well beyond her years, not only raising our expectations of what a story can do but also setting a high standard for any debut fiction author.
--Wayne Harrison, San Francisco Chronicle
Learn more about the book and author at Caitlin Horrocks's website.

Writers Read: Caitlin Horrocks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Jenny Hubbard & Oliver

This weekend's featured couple at Coffee with a Canine: Jenny Hubbard and Oliver.

The author, on how she and Oliver were united:
I saw his face on a website and knew he was the one. He had been in foster care for two months with Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas, who came and interviewed us for the job of Oliver’s parents. We’ve had the job for six months now and wouldn’t trade it for a hatbox full of...[read on]
Among the early praise for Paper Covers Rock:
“Guilt, loyalty, honesty, sex and the lines that separate them are all found in Alex Stromm’s journal. After the drowning death of his friend Thomas, Alex binds them all together with poetry written for his English teacher, a woman he’s obsessed with. But can he find the truth? Can he tell it? The lines Alex writes and walks are as thin and sharp as the pages of his book. Paper Covers Rock is dazzling in its intensity and intelligence, spell-binding in its terrible beauty.”
--Kathi Appelt, National Book Award finalist for The Underneath

"Following in the tradition of John Knowles's A Separate Peace, this eloquent first novel set in 1982 at an all-male boarding school explores circumstances surrounding the accidental death of a student.... A powerful, ambitious debut."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The poetry that Hubbard produces from Alex’s pen is brilliant, and the prose throughout is elegant in its simplicity…. Reminiscent of John Knowles’ classic coming-of-age story, A Separate Peace (1959), this novel introduces Hubbard as a bright light to watch on the YA literary scene.”
--Francisca Goldsmith, Booklist (starred review)
Learn more about the book and author at Jenny Hubbard's website.

My Book, The Movie: Paper Covers Rock.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Jenny Hubbard and Oliver.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best movie directors in fictional form

Award winning film historian Patrick McGilligan's new book is Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director.

One of McGilligan's five best film directors in fictional form, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
The Dead Republic
by Roddy Doyle (2010)

Although the great—arguably greatest—American director, John Ford, does not turn up in many novels, he is a crucial figure in Roddy Doyle's splendid "The Last Roundup" trilogy. Ford materializes in the second volume, "Oh, Play That Thing!," when he is encountered by the tale's anti-hero, Henry Smart, a onetime assassin in the Irish Rebellion who is on the lam in America. But Ford really takes the stage in the third volume, "The Dead Republic," when Smart, after three decades on the run, returns to Ireland under the impression that Ford is going to film the story of his life. But the director is actually intent on making a happy-ending companion for his grim 1935 movie about the IRA, "The Informer." The tale of Smart's revolutionary past morphs into Ford's quaintly lovey-dovey "The Quiet Man." Doyle nails Ford's tics and traits (the baleful black eyes, slouch hat, handkerchief-chewing) and captures the director in all his perverse glory. The novel also slyly positions Ford and "The Quiet Man" at the crossroads of old, dead Irish dreams and the new national mythmaking.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Valerie Frankel's "It's Hard Not to Hate You," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: It's Hard Not to Hate You by Valerie Frankel.

The entry begins:
Since It's Hard Not to Hate You is a memoir, I cast myself in the main part when I was writing it. Since I'd already lived through the events, I could easily picture the scene—although, in some cases, it wasn't altogether pleasant to go back there. If my memoir were made into a Lifetime TV movie, I'd cast myself as someone thinner (of course). Someone funny, with grit and a bit of a naughty side to her personality. Hmmmm.

How about Kathy...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Valerie Frankel's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: It's Hard Not to Hate You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pg. 99: Corey Robin's "The Reactionary Mind"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin by Corey Robin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Late in life, William F. Buckley made a confession to Corey Robin. Capitalism is "boring," said the founding father of the American right. "Devoting your life to it," as conservatives do, "is horrifying if only because it's so repetitious. It's like sex." With this unlikely conversation began Robin's decade-long foray into the conservative mind. What is conservatism, and what's truly at stake for its proponents? If capitalism bores them, what excites them?

Tracing conservatism back to its roots in the reaction against the French Revolution, Robin argues that the right is fundamentally inspired by a hostility to emancipating the lower orders. Some conservatives endorse the free market, others oppose it. Some criticize the state, others celebrate it. Underlying these differences is the impulse to defend power and privilege against movements demanding freedom and equality.

Despite their opposition to these movements, conservatives favor a dynamic conception of politics and society--one that involves self-transformation, violence, and war. They are also highly adaptive to new challenges and circumstances. This partiality to violence and capacity for reinvention has been critical to their success.

Written by a keen, highly regarded observer of the contemporary political scene, The Reactionary Mind ranges widely, from Edmund Burke to Antonin Scalia, from John C. Calhoun to Ayn Rand. It advances the notion that all rightwing ideologies, from the eighteenth century through today, are historical improvisations on a theme: the felt experience of having power, seeing it threatened, and trying to win it back.
Learn more about The Reactionary Mind at the Oxford University Press website.

Corey Robin teaches political science at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, Harper's, and the London Review of Books.

The Page 99 Test: The Reactionary Mind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books on the art of observation

Alexandra Horowitz holds degrees in philosophy and cognitive science, and teaches in the Department of Psychology at Barnard.

She is the author of Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know.

With Daisy Banks at The Browser, she discussed five books on the art of observation, including:
Tracks and Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates
by Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney

Your third choice is Tracks and Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates by Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney.

This is a guide to identifying the tracks that insects leave behind. It is a glossy field guide which is densely packed with 500 or so pages, and it is a phenomenal book that should get a large amount of attention. It also shows insects, but mostly it is about the “sign” that show insects have been there in the past. The authors are identifying characteristics such as eggs or webs or droppings or leaf mines – which are little trails along leaves – or leaf galls where the insect has disrupted the growth of a leaf.

If you were trying to track down a particular insect this book would be a great way to help you.

Absolutely. You can identify what the insect is that is damaging your plant or your tree. But the authors see the sign as beautiful in itself, and it really is. As gardeners, we might just see it one way, but it is also evidence of the huge proliferation of this successful population of insect species. I have taken a walk with Eiseman for my book. In the least auspicious block possible, we saw a mind-boggling array of insect sign. He has many great images in the book. One of my favourites is an image of one of the beautiful bark galleries. These are tracks left under the bark by things like bark beetles, which lay their eggs under the bark. When the eggs hatch, each one heads off, excavating a trail under the nest site. What results is this radiating image on the bark of the tree which is extraordinary. Of course, it also does some damage to the tree, but to be able to see it as those two things at once is what this book has done for me. It made me realise the omnipresence of insects. Their sign and tracks are everywhere.
Read about another book Horowitz tagged.

The Page 99 Test: Inside of a Dog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Dani Kollin & Eytan Kollin's "The Unincorporated Woman"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Unincorporated Woman (Unincorporated Series #3) by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin.

About the book, from the publisher:
There’s a civil war in space and the unincorporated woman is enlisted! The epic continues.

The award-winning saga of a revolutionary future takes a new turn. Justin Cord, the unincorporated man, is dead, betrayed, and his legacy of rebellion and individual freedom is in danger. General Black is the great hope of the military, but she cannot wage war from behind the President’s desk. So there must be a new president, anointed by Black, to hold the desk job, and who better than the only woman resurrected from Justin Cord’s past era, the scientist who created his resurrection device, the only born unincorporated woman. The perfect figurehead. Except that she has ideas of her own, and secrets of her own, and the talent to run the government her way. She is a force that no one anticipated, and no one can control.

The first novel in this thought-provoking series, The Unincorporated Man, won the 2009 Prometheus Award for best novel.
Learn more about the book and authors at Dani Kollin's blog and The Unincorporated Man website.

Writer's Read: Dani Kollin (May 2010).

Writer's Read: Eytan Kollin.

The Page 69 Test: The Unincorporated War.

My Book, The Movie: The Unincorporated War.

My Book, The Movie: The Unincorporated Woman.

Writers Read: Dani Kollin (September 2011).

The Page 69 Test: The Unincorporated Woman.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Daniel Polansky reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Daniel Polansky, author of Low Town.

The entry begins:
I just finished reading The Old Regime and the Revolution by Alexis de Tocqueville, which was the first part of what was meant to be a meditation on the French Revolution comparable to his epic work Democracy in America, but which death stopped him from completing. I'm really fascinated by the French Revolution, and obviously Tocqueville is one of the great historical thinkers of all time so this was really...[read on]
Among the early praise for Low Town:
"Polansky is a deft, sensitive dramatist with the blackest sense of humor—and Low Town is brilliant proof. Here’s hoping that sequel comes quickly. Polansky has managed to craft an assured, roaring, and rollicking hybrid, a cross-genre free-for-all that relishes its tropes while spitting out their bones. And he does it all while spinning one hell of a gripping mystery. Much like its grim, perversely charismatic antihero, Low Town stakes a narrow turf—then completely owns every inch of it."
A.V. Club (The Onion) (Jason Heller)

"Low Town is a strong, confident debut that should go down well with readers who enjoy their fantasy on the noir side. It’s a novel you can enjoy for its atmosphere as well as its story, full as it is of well-drawn scenes from the city’s underbelly... Low Town delivers a fast, entertaining story in less pages than it takes some major epics to get out of the realm of basic exposition. I had a blast with Low Town, and I’m definitely keeping an eye out for whatever Daniel Polansky comes up with next."
— (Stefan Raets)

"This debut by Maryland native Daniel Polansky is a fantasy-crime hybrid with serious noir chops. Gritty, cryptically funny and relentlessly inventive."
Winnipeg Free Press

"[A] maniacal page turner."
Newark Star Ledger
View the Low Town trailer.

Learn more about the book and author at Daniel Polansky's website.

My Book, The Movie: Low Town.

Writers Read: Daniel Polansky.

--Marshal Zeringue