Friday, May 29, 2020

Q&A with Eve Yohalem

From my Q&A with Eve Yohalem, author of The Truth According to Blue:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title is catchy, but the picture on the book jacket tells the story: two girls and a dog on a dock, scanning the water, a sunken ship beneath them. Summer fun! Adventure! Mystery! Well, yes, that’s all in the book (or at least I hope so). But Blue has type 1 diabetes, and Otis is a service dog as well as a beloved pet. If you look closely, you’ll see Otis is bowing down, which is how he alerts Blue that her blood sugar is low. He isn’t playing; he’s telling her she needs to...[read on]
Visit Eve Yohalem's website.

Q&A with Eve Yohalem.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Top ten Scottish crime novels

Craig Robertson is the author of Random, Snapshot, Cold Grave, The Last Refuge, Witness The Dead, Murderabilia, The Photographer, and the new novel, Watch Him Die.

At the Guardian he tagged ten top "Scottish crime novels driven by issues of duality, redemption, the nature of good and evil, and a dark, dark, humour," including:
Quite Ugly One Morning by Chris Brookmyre

It almost seems wrong choosing an early Brookmyre when he’s gone on to write a succession of sophisticated novels exploring the human psyche, but there remains an irresistible, rebellious energy about Quite Ugly that defies comparison. It established his singular, scabrous voice and introduced us to Jack Parlabane, his most used and abused character. Part satire, part mystery and wholly, hilariously engrossing, it is laced with razor-sharp social commentary that pulls no punches. It starts with a jobby on a dead man’s mantelpiece and goes uphill from there.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Shauna Holyoak's "Kazu Jones and the Comic Book Criminal"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Kazu Jones and the Comic Book Criminal by Shauna Holyoak.

About the book, from the publisher:
Kazu Jones, scrappy fifth grade detective, is back on the case!

Fresh off their first successful investigation, Kazu and her friends — March, CindeeRae, and Madeline — are hungry for their next case, which comes when a vandal begins targeting local comic book stores with anti-comic graffiti. March is especially desperate to unmask the villain before his beloved shop, The Super Pickle, gets hit. But when March takes over, the gang starts butting heads.

It doesn’t help that Kazu is distracted by another mystery at home: her mom is bedridden and her grandmother has come from Japan to help out, but no one will tell Kazu what’s going on. Juggling two investigations is not easy.

When Kazu and the gang trace the vandal’s secret identity to one of the most popular superhero characters in the nation, they realize the vandal’s revenge plot is much more explosive than they thought. But can they put aside their differences in time to catch this criminal–or will both of Kazu’s cases fall apart?
Visit Shauna Holyoak's website.

The Page 69 Test: Kazu Jones and the Comic Book Criminal.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Noeleen McIlvenna's "Early American Rebels"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Early American Rebels: Pursuing Democracy from Maryland to Carolina, 1640–1700 by Noeleen McIlvenna.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the half century after 1650 that saw the gradual imposition of a slave society in England’s North American colonies, poor white settlers in the Chesapeake sought a republic of equals. Demanding a say in their own destinies, rebels moved around the region looking for a place to build a democratic political system. This book crosses colonial boundaries to show how Ingle's Rebellion, Fendall's Rebellion, Bacon's Rebellion, Culpeper's Rebellion, Parson Waugh's Tumult, and the colonial Glorious Revolution were episodes in a single struggle because they were organized by one connected group of people.

Adding land records and genealogical research to traditional sources, Noeleen McIlvenna challenges standard narratives that disdain poor whites or leave them out of the history of the colonial South. She makes the case that the women of these families played significant roles in every attempt to establish a more representative political system before 1700. McIlvenna integrates landless immigrants and small farmers into the history of the Chesapeake region and argues that these rebellious anti-authoritarians should be included in the pantheon of the nation’s Founders.
Learn more about Early American Rebels at the University of North Carolina Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Early American Rebels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Debra Bokur

From my Q&A with Debra Bokur, author of The Fire Thief:
What's in a name?

Names! I go down rabbit holes when it comes to naming characters. Choosing a name for my Hawaiian detective, who also happens to be a kahu, or spiritual leader, was a struggle. I finally settled on Kali, but only after much deliberation. In the end, it was because the commonly accepted Hawaiian definition of the name is “someone who hesitates,” while in Hindu legend, the name refers to a powerful, dark goddess. There’s also a Greek translation, where the name means “rosebud.” I liked this weird mix of meanings, because she’s complicated and layered, and all of those qualities can be found in her personality, from the gentleness of a rosebud and the ferocity of an angry goddess to the simple human quality of hesitating.

When I settled on the surname for her uncle, Police Captain Walter Alaka’i, it was because Alaka’i translates to “leader.” He’s an older family member with many more years of experience as a policeman than Kali has as a detective, and it seemed fitting; particularly given that...[read on]
Visit Debra Bokur's website.

Q&A with Debra Bokur.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Nancy Star's "Rules For Moving," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Rules for Moving by Nancy Star.

The entry begins:
Often when I’m writing, it feels as if I’m watching a movie in my head. Scenes unspool, stakes rise, characters reveal secrets. The ending can be as much of a surprise when I write it, as it is to the reader who reads it. So dreamcasting my novel is my idea of fun!

A bit about the book: Rules For Moving is the story of online advice columnist Lane Meckler, adored for the wise, witty advice she gives to her readers, but an ill at ease odd duck in her actual life. A social distancer before there was a word for it, Lane is okay with her outsider status until the day her son Henry stops speaking to everyone but her. To help her son, she finally needs to figure out the reason that she’s always felt other than.

The perfect director for this book to screen translation: Lisa Cholodenko. I bet you know her work: she directed the HBO adaptation of the novel Olive Kitteridge and the award-wining limited series Unbelievable. She also directed one of my favorite films, The Kids Are All Right, starring the luminous team of Annette Bening and Julianne Moore.

Why Lisa Cholodenko? She’s...[read on]
Visit Nancy Star's website.

Q&A with Nancy Star.

My Book, The Movie: Rules for Moving.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight fictional divas in need of a reality check

Tracy Clark is a native Chicagoan who writes mysteries set in her hometown while working as an editor in the newspaper industry. She is a graduate of Mundelein College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she earned her MA.

Her new novel is What You Don't See.

At CrimeReads, Clark tagged "eight books that feature either high priestesses of haughtiness you love to hate or stealthy stalkers who’ll have you sleeping with the lights on, checking your locks ten times a night and nailing your mailbox shut." One title on the list:
Eleven on Top, Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum, fed up with being a bail enforcement agent, ventures out to find her next gig, but somebody’s after her big time. Her car’s firebombed, she’s firebombed. It could be an old enemy, one who’s funeral home she burned down inadvertently, but whoever he or she is, they’re keeping the pressure on. Stephanie’s fighting for her life, and the struggle is hilarious, but real. Funny series.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Barton Gellman's "Dark Mirror"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State by Barton Gellman.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and author of the New York Times bestseller Angler, the definitive master narrative of Edward Snowden and the modern surveillance state, based on unique access to Snowden and groundbreaking reportage around the world.

Edward Snowden touched off a global debate in 2013 when he gave Barton Gellman, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald each a vast and explosive archive of highly classified files revealing the extent of the American government’s access to our every communication. They shared the Pulitzer Prize that year for public service. For Gellman, who never stopped reporting, that was only the beginning. He jumped off from what Snowden gave him to track the reach and methodology of the U.S. surveillance state and bring it to light with astonishing new clarity. Along the way, he interrogated Snowden’s own history and found important ways in which myth and reality do not line up. Gellman treats Snowden with respect, but this is no hagiographic account, and Dark Mirror sets the record straight in ways that are both fascinating and important.

Dark Mirror is the story that Gellman could not tell before, a gripping inside narrative of investigative reporting as it happened and a deep dive into the machinery of the surveillance state. Gellman recounts the puzzles, dilemmas and tumultuous events behind the scenes of his work – in top secret intelligence facilities, in Moscow hotel rooms, in huddles with Post lawyers and editors, in Silicon Valley executive suites, and in encrypted messages from anonymous accounts. Within the book is a compelling portrait of national security journalism under pressure from legal threats, government investigations, and foreign intelligence agencies intent on stealing Gellman’s files. Throughout Dark Mirror, Gellman wages an escalating battle against unknown adversaries who force him to mimic their tradecraft in self-defense.

With the vivid and insightful style that is the author’s trademark, Dark Mirror is a true-life spy tale about the surveillance-industrial revolution and its discontents. Along the way, with the benefit of fresh reporting, it tells the full story of a government leak unrivaled in drama since All the President’s Men.
Visit Barton Gellman's website.

The Page 99 Test: Dark Mirror.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Lexie Bean

From my Q&A with Lexie Bean, author of The Ship We Built:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

My novel is called The Ship We Built in homage with the refrigerator box Rowan, the narrator and protagonist, guards and reimagines throughout the text. The box is both a literal box and "the box" society offers for all portions of identity, namely gender and sexuality. He draws on the box, punches holes in it, moves it between homes, calls it a "time machine," a "ship." It's up to him to reinvent the box he has been given. He is given the same challenge as a young, queer trans boy in a working class community.

It's also entitled The Ship We Built because of Rowan's understanding of ways he's allowed to connect to others - especially to girls. When Rowan develops feelings for a girl, Rowan does not think it can be "a crush" because crushes, and ultimately relationships, are only supposed to be with boys. At the same time, Rowan knows deep down that this connection with a girl in class is not...[read on]
Visit Lexie Bean's website.

Q&A with Lexie Bean.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Eight of the best pandemic thrillers

Born, raised, and still residing in Vancouver, Daniel Kalla spends his days (and sometimes nights) working as an Emergency Room Physician in a major teaching hospital. In his ‘off’ time, he writes and manages a dual career. He is the author of numerous books, which have been translated into eleven languages to date, and his Shanghai trilogy has been optioned for feature films.

The idea for his first medical thriller, Pandemic, sprang from his clinical experience in facing the SARS crisis of 2003.

Kalla's new novel is The Last High.

At The Strand Magazine, he tagged eight favorite pandemic thrillers, including:
The Eyes of Darkness by Dean Koontz (1981)

Many are calling Dean Koontz a prophet for “predicting” the current pandemic in 1981. That’s a stretch. There is a virus in this story named Wuhan-400 that wreaks havoc in Northern California, but the coincidences and parallels largely end there. Still, The Eyes of Darkness a ripping good thriller that would make for great poolside reading. Maybe not so much on a plane, though. Planes and pandemics, even fictional ones, don’t mix so well anymore.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Susan Allott's "The Silence"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Silence: A Novel by Susan Allott.

About the book, from the publisher:
Combining the emotional power and dual narrative style of Before We Were Yours with the nuanced, layered, and atmospheric mystery of The Dry, a powerful debut novel revolving around a shocking disappearance, two neighbor families, and shameful secrets from the past that refuse to stay buried.

It is 1997, and in a basement flat in Hackney, Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father phoning from Sydney. 30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. At the time, it was thought she had fled a broken marriage and gone to start a new life; but now Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her. Isla’s father Joe was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and now he’s under suspicion of murder.

Isla unwillingly plans to go back to Australia for the first time in a decade to support her father. The return to Sydney will plunge Isla deep into the past, to a quiet street by the sea where two couples live side by side. Isla’s parents, Louisa and Joe, have recently emigrated from England—a move that has left Louisa miserably homesick while Joe embraces this new life. Next door, Steve and Mandy are equally troubled. Mandy doesn’t want a baby, even though Steve—a cop trying to hold it together under the pressures of the job—is desperate to become a father.

The more Isla asks about the past, the more she learns: about both young couples and the secrets each marriage bore. Could her father be capable of doing something terrible? How much does her mother know? What will happen to their family if Isla’s worst fears are realized? And is there another secret in this community, one which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?

Deftly exploring the deterioration of relationships and the devastating truths we keep from those we love, The Silence is a stunning debut from a promising literary star.
Visit Susan Allott's website.

Q&A with Susan Allott.

The Page 69 Test: The Silence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jill Watts's "The Black Cabinet"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Black Cabinet: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt by Jill Watts.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1932 in the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the presidency with the help of key African American defectors from the Republican Party. At the time, most African Americans lived in poverty, denied citizenship rights and terrorized by white violence. As the New Deal began, a “black Brain Trust” joined the administration and began documenting and addressing the economic hardship and systemic inequalities African Americans faced. They became known as the Black Cabinet, but the environment they faced was reluctant, often hostile, to change.

“Will the New Deal be a square deal for the Negro?” The black press wondered. The Black Cabinet set out to devise solutions to the widespread exclusion of black people from its programs, whether by inventing tools to measure discrimination or by calling attention to the administration’s failures. Led by Mary McLeod Bethune, an educator and friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, they were instrumental to Roosevelt’s continued success with black voters. Operating mostly behind the scenes, they helped push Roosevelt to sign an executive order that outlawed discrimination in the defense industry. They saw victories—jobs and collective agriculture programs that lifted many from poverty—and defeats—the bulldozing of black neighborhoods to build public housing reserved only for whites; Roosevelt’s refusal to get behind federal anti-lynching legislation. The Black Cabinet never won official recognition from the president, and with his death, it disappeared from view. But it had changed history. Eventually, one of its members would go on to be the first African American cabinet secretary; another, the first African American federal judge and mentor to Thurgood Marshall.

Masterfully researched and dramatically told, The Black Cabinet brings to life a forgotten generation of leaders who fought post-Reconstruction racial apartheid and whose work served as a bridge that Civil Rights activists traveled to achieve the victories of the 1950s and ’60s.
Visit Jill Watts's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Black Cabinet.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Natalie Jenner

From my Q&A with Natalie Jenner, author of The Jane Austen Society:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

My title The Jane Austen Society is so self-evident and obvious that some publishers who bid for my debut book wanted to keep the title “open” – but not St. Martin’s Press, whose judgement has remained unerring every step of the way. I was glad of that, because when I first sat down to write the book, the very first thing I typed was the title. I never once considered naming it anything else. I had been thinking of writing a book about an old British estate house in need of rescue; I had also just spent a year of my life aggressively rereading books by and about Jane Austen. And one day I looked up from my reading and said to my daughter, out of the blue and very simply, “I am going to write a book about a group of people who come together to try and save Jane Austen’s house.” I knew from all my reading about Austen that the first real-life Jane Austen Society had started in 1940 in England for that exact same purpose. I used that one historical fact as the...[read on]
Visit Natalie Jenner's website.

Q&A with Natalie Jenner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 25, 2020

Five top books for sports fans

Nige Tassell's book Bottom Corner: Hope, Glory And Non-League Football was named among Waterstones’ top twelve sports books of 2016, while Three Weeks, Eight Seconds: Greg LeMond, Laurent Fignon And The Epic Tour de France Of 1989 was shortlisted in the Cycling Book of the Year category at the Sports Books Awards and has since been published in the Netherlands, Spain and the US.

His other books include Mr Gig: One Man’s Search For The Soul Of Live Music, Butch Wilkins And The Sundance Kid: A Teenage Obsession With TV Sport, and Boot Sale: Inside The Strange And Secret World Of Football’s Transfer Window.

At the Guardian, Tassell tagged five favorite sports books, including:
HG Bissinger is one of the select group of fortunate sportswriters who have managed to charm their way into sport’s inner sanctum: the dressing room. In 1988, Bissinger went to live in Odessa, Texas, a town that was built on the bounty of the oil industry, but now revolves around the fortunes of its high school American football team. In Friday Night Lights, he charts the inside story of the Permian Panthers’ season, examining how the teenagers cope with the pressures of playing in front of crowds numbering as many as 20,000. For most of them, Bissinger realises, these Friday night games will be the pinnacle of their entire lives.
Read about another entry on the list.

Friday Night Lights is among LitHub's fifty best small-screen adaptations of literary works.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: L. C. Rosen's "Camp"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Camp by L. C. Rosen.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the author of the acclaimed Jack of Hearts (and other parts) comes a sweet and sharp screwball comedy that critiques the culture of toxic masculinity within the queer community.

Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim — who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.

This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ — buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.

But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself: How much is he willing to change for love? And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?
Visit L. C. Rosen's website.

The Page 69 Test: Camp.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Phuc Tran's "Sigh, Gone"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Sigh, Gone: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In by Phuc Tran.

About the book, from the publisher:
For anyone who has ever felt like they don't belong, Sigh, Gone shares an irreverent, funny, and moving tale of displacement and assimilation woven together with poignant themes from beloved works of classic literature.

In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, Phuc Tran immigrates to America along with his family. By sheer chance they land in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a small town where the Trans struggle to assimilate into their new life. In this coming-of-age memoir told through the themes of great books such as The Metamorphosis, The Scarlet Letter, The Iliad, and more, Tran navigates the push and pull of finding and accepting himself despite the challenges of immigration, feelings of isolation, and teenage rebellion, all while attempting to meet the rigid expectations set by his immigrant parents.

Appealing to fans of coming-of-age memoirs such as Fresh Off the Boat, Running with Scissors, or tales of assimilation like Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Displaced and The Refugees, Sigh, Gone explores one man’s bewildering experiences of abuse, racism, and tragedy and reveals redemption and connection in books and punk rock. Against the hairspray-and-synthesizer backdrop of the ‘80s, he finds solace and kinship in the wisdom of classic literature, and in the subculture of punk rock, he finds affirmation and echoes of his disaffection. In his journey for self-discovery Tran ultimately finds refuge and inspiration in the art that shapes—and ultimately saves—him.
Visit Phuc Tran's website.

The Page 99 Test: Sigh, Gone.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Melanie Benjamin

From my Q&A with Melanie Benjamin, author of Mistress of the Ritz:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

This title was more problematic than my others, for this very reason. We definitely wanted to have the word “Ritz” in the title, to both establish the setting and also, because the word connotes such luxury and excitement. After all, it’s even in the title of a song – “Puttin’ on the Ritz!” One of the things I’ve learned is that a title really should be short and to the point these days. For example, when we were discussing the book that became The Aviator’s Wife, I had some pretty flowery titles in mind – Between the Earth and Sky was my favorite. It’s lovely. It also doesn’t at all say what the book is about. And too, I’ve noticed that in recent years books with longer titles just don’t do as well. I think people these days have a hard time even remembering longer titles. So short and sweet it is, and finally someone said, “Well, it’s a book about an aviator’s wife, so let’s call it that.” And we did.

For Mistress of the Ritz, then, we knew we had to have “Ritz” in the title. I advocated for The Ritz in Love and War, but smarter minds convinced me that was too wordy and too vague and my novels have become known for their strong female protagonists, and we needed to make sure the title conveyed that. So the problem became how to describe this strong female protagonist. Who, exactly, was Blanche Auzello in relation to the Ritz? We went back and forth between “queen” and “lady” and “madame” – which I nixed because I didn’t want anyone to think she ran a house of prostitution! – before finally landing on Mistress. I have to admit...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Melanie Benjamin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Alice I Have Been.

The Page 69 Test: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

My Book, The Movie: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

The Page 69 Test: The Aviator's Wife.

The Page 69 Test: The Swans of Fifth Avenue.

The Page 69 Test: The Girls in the Picture.

Writers Read: Melanie Benjamin (May 2019).

Q&A with Melanie Benjamin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Ten essential Australian novels

Susan Allott is from the UK but spent part of her twenties in Australia, desperately homesick but trying to make Sydney her home. She completed the Faber Academy course in 2017, during which she started writing her debut novel, The Silence. She now lives in south London with her two children and her very Australian husband.

Q&A with Susan Allott.

At CrimeReads, Allott tagged ten favorite Australian titles, including:
Evie Wyld, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice (2009)

Evie Wyld was born in London but spent part of her childhood in Australia. After the Fire is her debut, set on the East coast of Australia, about the trauma of war and the experiences that bind two men together despite their fractured relationship. Various critics have suggested that Wyld’s writing is on a par with Tim Winton and Peter Carey. I don’t like to draw comparisons but there are lines from After the Fire that I still think of, a decade after I first read it, and it has held its position as one of the best books I’ve ever read. It won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Betty Trask Award. Wyld went on to win a host of prizes for her second novel, All the Birds, Singing and her third novel, Bass Rock, is out now.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: After the Fire, a Still Small Voice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Nancy Wayson Dinan's "Things You Would Know if You Grew Up Around Here"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Things You Would Know if You Grew Up Around Here by Nancy Wayson Dinan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Set during the devastating Memorial Day floods in Texas, a surreal, empathetic novel for readers of Station Eleven and The Age of Miracles.

2015. 18-year-old Boyd Montgomery returns from her grandfather's wedding to find her friend Isaac missing. Drought-ravaged central Texas has been newly inundated with rain, and flash floods across the state have begun to sweep away people, cars, and entire houses as every river breaks its banks.

In the midst of the rising waters, Boyd sets out across the ravaged back country. She is determined to rescue her missing friend, and she's not alone in her quest: her neighbor, Carla, spots Boyd's boot prints leading away from the safety of home and follows in her path. Hours later, her mother returns to find Boyd missing, and she, too, joins the search.

Boyd, Carla, and Lucy Maud know the land well. They've lived in central Texas for their entire lives. But they have no way of knowing the fissure the storm has opened along the back roads, no way of knowing what has been erased-and what has resurfaced. As they each travel through the newly unfamiliar landscape, they discover the ghosts of Texas past and present.

Haunting and timely, Things You Would Know if You Grew Up Around Here considers questions of history and empathy and brings a pre-apocalyptic landscape both foreign and familiar to shockingly vivid life.
Visit Nancy Wayson Dinan's website.

My Book, The Movie: Things You Would Know if You Grew Up Around Here.

Q&A with Nancy Wayson Dinan.

The Page 69 Test: Things You Would Know if You Grew Up Around Here.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Andrew B. Liu's "Tea War"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Tea War: A History of Capitalism in China and India by Andrew B. Liu.

About the book, from the publisher:
A history of capitalism in nineteenth- and twentieth-century China and India that explores the competition between their tea industries

Tea remains the world’s most popular commercial drink today, and at the turn of the twentieth century, it represented the largest export industry of both China and colonial India. In analyzing the global competition between Chinese and Indian tea, Andrew B. Liu challenges past economic histories premised on the technical “divergence” between the West and the Rest, arguing instead that seemingly traditional technologies and practices were central to modern capital accumulation across Asia. He shows how competitive pressures compelled Chinese merchants to adopt abstract industrial conceptions of time, while colonial planters in India pushed for labor indenture laws to support factory-style tea plantations. Characterizations of China and India as premodern backwaters, he explains, were themselves the historical result of new notions of political economy adopted by Chinese and Indian nationalists, who discovered that these abstract ideas corresponded to concrete social changes in their local surroundings. Together, these stories point toward a more flexible and globally oriented conceptualization of the history of capitalism in China and India.
Learn more about Tea War at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Tea War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Anna Dorn

From my Q&A with Anna Dorn, author of Vagablonde:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Vagablonde is about a blonde criminal defense attorney who wants to be a rapper. The title—a portmanteau of "blonde" and "vagabond"—speaks to her voyeurism into cultures that are not her own in order to "feel something." I wanted to write about cultural appropriation from the perspective of the appropriator—the only perspective I can write with any degree of authenticity. It would be weird to write a novel that takes place in America and doesn’t address race in some way. So I wrote what I knew: a white woman grappling with...[read on]
Visit Anna Dorn's website.

Q&A with Anna Dorn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 23, 2020

What is Tom Young reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tom Young, author of Silver Wings, Iron Cross.

From his entry:
I’ve made it a goal this year to read up on World War II—and to offer a challenge. I’m asking folks to read at least two books about WWII. On social media, I’m promoting a hashtag: #WWIIBookChallenge. Your two books could be anything—a historical novel, a nonfiction book, or a veteran’s memoir. Naturally, I would like one of them to be my new novel, Silver Wings, Iron Cross. But the larger point is to read something. And I’ll bet that once you start, you won’t stop with just two books.

My own reading this year began with a classic: The Winds of War, by Herman Wouk. It’s a magnificent epic that follows a Navy family from the war’s beginnings in Europe through the attack on Pearl Harbor. Wouk continued the epic with another volume, War and Remembrance. That’s next on my list. I’ve always been a fan of the great WWII novelists who were veterans of that war—a list that includes Wouk, Norman Mailer, and...[read on]
About Silver Wings, Iron Cross, from the publisher:
World War II Lieutenant Karl Hagan earned his wings the hard way. But when his plane is shot down behind enemy lines, he’s forced to make the hardest decision of his life: trusting the enemy.

Oberleutnant Wilhelm Albrecht wore his Iron Cross with pride. But when his U-boat is attacked in a devastating air raid, he abandons ship and finds an unlikely ally: the pilot who bombed him.

From the smoke-filled skies over Europe to the fire-blasted waters of a Nazi naval base to the battle-scarred German countryside, the American and the German must form an uneasy truce if they hope to survive. It is November of 1944. The tides of war have turned. Allies have taken back France, and German troops have retreated. But for Karl and Wilhelm, the war is far from over. Each must be prepared to lie for the other, fight for the other, or die with the other. But their short-lived alliance won’t truly be put to the test until they reach the end of the line—inside a POW camp...
Visit Thomas W. Young's website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Mullah's Storm.

Writers Read: Thomas W. Young (August 2011).

Writers Read: Tom Young (August 2012).

Writers Read: Tom Young (July 2013).

Writers Read: Tom Young (July 2014).

Writers Read: Tom Young.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top post-apocalyptic sci-fi escapist titles

Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World, which was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award.

Her new novel is Simon the Fiddler.

At Lit Hub, Jiles tagged seven titles "for respite in a time of pandemic--riveting stories of societal collapse, plagues, near-death experiences, distant futures on bald stone planets and other tales that will help you escape from this annoying and fretful news-cycle life into the worlds of pure imagination." One title on the list:
Andy Weir, The Martian

It’s a Robinson Crusoe story on Mars, bright and funny and once again, a book that can be re-read many times. this virtue in stories like this is that as you are sitting up late reading it and devouring his endless struggles with food and communications it makes you want to get up and make a sandwich. Sandwiches at midnight are good for you, along with another cup of whatever and don’t forget the agave nectar.

There is a scientifically documented human need to move into the world of the imagination, really. I forget what the study was or where published. But without re-creating the mind in journeys through these distant worlds we become uncomfortable and mentally ungainly and impatient, as is everybody at this point. I think the study may have been done by Jacob Grimm. Not sure.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Martian is among Joel Cunningham's five favorite invented locations that don’t plan to let you leave, Tim Peake's five top books to take to space, Jeffrey Kluger's five favorite books that make epic drama out of space-faring history, Elisabeth Delp's seven classic science fiction space odysseys, Alexandra Oliva's five novels that get important aspects of survival right, Jeff Somers's seven works of speculative fiction that don’t feel all that speculative and  five top sci-fi novels with plausible futuristic technology, Ernest Cline’s ten favorite SF novels, and James Mustich's five top books on visiting Mars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Pablo Palomino's "The Invention of Latin American Music"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Invention of Latin American Music: A Transnational History by Pablo Palomino.

About the book, from the publisher:
The ethnically and geographically heterogeneous countries that comprise Latin America have each produced music in unique styles and genres - but how and why have these disparate musical streams come to fall under the single category of "Latin American music"? Reconstructing how this category came to be, author Pablo Palomino tells the dynamic history of the modernization of musical practices in Latin America. He focuses on the intellectual, commercial, musicological, and diplomatic actors that spurred these changes in the region between the 1920s and the 1960s, offering a transnational story based on primary sources from countries in and outside of Latin America. The Invention of Latin American Music portrays music as the field where, for the first time, the cultural idea of Latin America disseminated through and beyond the region, connecting the culture and music of the region to the wider, global culture, promoting the now-established notion of Latin America as a single musical market. Palomino explores multiple interconnected narratives throughout, pairing popular and specialist traveling musicians, commercial investments and repertoires, unionization and musicology, and music pedagogy and Pan American diplomacy. Uncovering remarkable transnational networks far from a Western cultural center, The Invention of Latin American Music firmly asserts that the democratic legitimacy and massive reach of Latin American identity and modernization explain the spread and success of Latin American music.
Learn more about The Invention of Latin American Music at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Invention of Latin American Music.

--Marshal Zeringue

Florence Gonsalves's "Dear Universe," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Dear Universe by Florence Gonsalves.

The entry begins:
Seeing my baby on screen would be a dream.

I love Perks of Being a Wallflower, both the book and movie, for how it handles heavy topics alongside the beautiful flings and flirtations that come with being a teen. I'm in awe that the author, Stephen Chbosky, also directed the movie. It’d be my ideal scenario to be involved in every part of the process, from the screenwriting to the casting. As exciting as a movie deal would be though, I know it'd be hard to put my story in the hands of other people, as Dear Universe is very personal for me and my family. If somehow Chloë Sevigny circa 2001 could play Cham, I would lose my mind. Since time travel isn’t yet possible, I’d love to see...[read on]
Visit Florence Gonsalves's website.

Q&A with Florence Gonsalves.

The Page 69 Test: Dear Universe.

My Book, The Movie: Dear Universe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 22, 2020

Seven top revenge thrillers featuring women who have had enough

Pip Drysdale is a writer, actor and musician who grew up in Africa and Australia. At 20 she moved to New York to study acting, worked in indie films and off-off Broadway theater, started writing songs and made four records. After graduating with a BA in English, Drysdale moved to London where she dated some interesting men and played shows across Europe.

Her first novel, The Sunday Girl, a bestseller in Australia, is newly released in the US.

At CrimeReads, Drysdale tagged seven revenge thrillers featuring women who have officially had enough. One title on the list:
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing.

They’ve been married for fifteen years, they have two children and the live in the suburbs… it sounds perfect and vanilla, doesn’t it? Still, perhaps every couple seems a bit flavorless
until you scratch the surface. I don’t want to ruin this for you if you haven’t read it, but let’s just say all hobbies are not created equal and there are some people you absolutely shouldn’t upset.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Lovely Wife is among Christina McDonald's seven top thrillers with flawed characters, C.J. Tudor's seven crime novels where murder is a group activity, Lisa Levy's top seven psychological thrillers with manipulative male narrators, Kaira Rouda's top seven literary couples whose relationships are deeply disturbing in the most fascinating ways possible, and Margot Hunt's top five villains who have had about enough of domestic life.

The Page 69 Test: My Lovely Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Catherine Ryan Hyde's "Brave Girl, Quiet Girl"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Brave Girl, Quiet Girl: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

About the book, from the publisher:
From New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde comes a gripping and emotional novel about friendship, motherhood, and the journey toward finding a place to call home.

Brooke is a divorced single mom, financially strapped, living with her mother, and holding tight to the one thing that matters most: her two-year-old daughter, Etta. Then, in a matter of seconds, Brooke’s life is shattered when she’s carjacked. Helpless and terrified, all Brooke can do is watch as Etta, still strapped in her seat, disappears into the Los Angeles night.

Miles away, Etta is found by Molly, a homeless teen who is all too used to darkness. Thrown away by her parents, and with a future as stable as the wooden crate she calls home, Molly survives day to day by her wits. As unpredictable as her life is, she’s stunned to find Etta, abandoned and alone. Shielding the little girl from more than the elements, Molly must put herself in harm’s way to protect a child as lost as she is.

Out of one terrible moment, Brooke’s and Molly’s desperate paths converge and an unlikely friendship across generations and circumstances is formed. With it, Brooke and Molly will come to discover that what’s lost—and what’s found—can change in a heartbeat.
Visit Catherine Ryan Hyde's website.

Q&A with Catherine Ryan Hyde.

The Page 69 Test: Brave Girl, Quiet Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Allison Margaret Bigelow's "Mining Language"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Mining Language: Racial Thinking, Indigenous Knowledge, and Colonial Metallurgy in the Early Modern Iberian World by Allison Margaret Bigelow.

About the book, from the publisher:
Mineral wealth from the Americas underwrote and undergirded European colonization of the New World; American gold and silver enriched Spain, funded the slave trade, and spurred Spain's northern European competitors to become Atlantic powers. Building upon works that have narrated this global history of American mining in economic and labor terms, Mining Language is the first book-length study of the technical and scientific vocabularies that miners developed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as they engaged with metallic materials. This language-centric focus enables Allison Bigelow to document the crucial intellectual contributions Indigenous and African miners made to the very engine of European colonialism.

By carefully parsing the writings of well-known figures such as Cristóbal Colón and Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés and lesser-known writers such Álvaro Alonso Barba, a Spanish priest who spent most of his life in the Andes, Bigelow uncovers the ways in which Indigenous and African metallurgists aided or resisted imperial mining endeavors, shaped critical scientific practices, and offered imaginative visions of metalwork. Her creative linguistic and visual analyses of archival fragments, images, and texts in languages as diverse as Spanish and Quechua also allow her to reconstruct the processes that led to the silencing of these voices in European print culture.
Learn more about Mining Language at the University of North Carolina Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Mining Language.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Nancy Star

My Q&A with Nancy Star, author of Rules for Moving:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Rules for Moving was the title of the novel when I submitted it to my editor and I was delighted that she loved it as much as I did. We both thought it worked on multiple levels. For one thing, the main character, advice columnist Lane Meckler, grew up in a family that moved so often, her mother made up a list Lane had to memorize, called Rules For Moving (Rule Number 1: Take Only What You Love). As for why Lane’s family moved so much, that’s a mystery to her—which she will eventually figure out! There’s another layer to the title, which speaks to a feeling Lane has, that everyone around her seems to effortlessly follow agreed upon rules for how to move through life, rules she somehow never...[read on]
Visit Nancy Star's website.

Q&A with Nancy Star.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Top ten books about silence

Abbie Greaves studied English Literature at Cambridge University. She worked in publishing for three years before leaving to focus on her writing. She now lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Silent Treatment is her first novel.

At the Guardian, Greaves tagged ten books with "one unifying feature:...the way in which readers themselves are made to work harder when confronted with an impenetrable quiet." One title on the list:
Atonement by Ian McEwan

To keep shtum, or not to keep shtum – that’s one of the big questions in play in this Booker prize-shortlisted novel. From Paul and Lola’s silence over Robbie’s wrongful imprisonment to Briony’s attempt at repentance through voicing her version of the truth, it’s a story that shows just how compelling silence can be as a narrative device.
Read about another entry on the list.

Atonement also appears on Eliza Casey's list of ten favorite stories--from film, fiction, and television--from the early 20th century, Nicci French's top ten list of dinner parties in fiction, Mark Skinner's list of ten of the best country house novels, Julia Dahl's top ten list of books about miscarriages of justice, Tim Lott's top ten list of summers in fiction, Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, David Treuer's six favorite books list, Kirkus Reviews's list of eleven books whose final pages will shock you, Nicole Hill's list of eleven books in which the main character dies, Isla Blair's six best books list, Jessica Soffer's top ten list of book endings, Jane Ciabattari's list of five masterpieces of fiction that also worked as films, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best birthday parties in literature, ten of the best misdirected messages in literature, ten of the best scenes on London Underground, ten of the best breakages in literature, ten of the best weddings in literature, and ten of the best identical twins in fiction. It is one of Stephanie Beacham's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: John Marrs's "What Lies Between Us"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: What Lies Between Us by John Marrs.

About the book, from the publisher:
Nina can never forgive Maggie for what she did. And she can never let her leave.

They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.

Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.

But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way—even if it kills her.

Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.
Visit John Marrs's website, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

My Book, The Movie: The One.

The Page 69 Test: The One.

The Page 69 Test: What Lies Between Us.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Rebekah Farrugia & Kellie D. Hay's "Women Rapping Revolution"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Women Rapping Revolution: Hip Hop and Community Building in Detroit by Rebekah Farrugia and Kellie D. Hay.

About the book, from the publisher:
Detroit, MIchigan, has long been recognized as a center of musical innovation and social change. Rebekah Farrugia and Kellie D. Hay draw on seven years of fieldwork to illuminate the important role that women have played in mobilizing a grassroots response to political and social pressures at the heart of Detroit’s ongoing renewal and development project. Focusing on the Foundation, a women-centered hip hop collective, Women Rapping Revolution argues that the hip hop underground is a crucial site where Black women shape subjectivity and claim self-care as a principle of community organizing. Through interviews and sustained critical engagement with artists and activists, this study also articulates the substantial role of cultural production in social, racial, and economic justice efforts.
Learn more about Women Rapping Revolution at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Women Rapping Revolution.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Jordan Farmer

From my Q&A with Jordan Farmer, author of The Poison Flood:
What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Music is a big influence, particularly on this novel. My tastes are vast. Essentially if it’s good, I wanna hear it, but I was thinking of the narrative quality and confessional nature of many country songs. The way a song like “He Stopped Loving Her Today” hides the details of a death until deeper into the track. I wanted similar layers in the novel. To show Hollis in his present state, then evaluate his past in subsequent chapters to inform how he came to be in these situations.

Biographies or interviews with artists fascinate me. I really crave the opportunity to hear any sort of artist talk about their process. There’s a TV show sponsored by Ernie Ball guitar strings where they talk to musicians like Buddy Guy, Mike Ness from Social Distortion and Billy Duffy from The Cult about their songwriting process and how they achieve a certain guitar tone. I’m not a professional musician, I play some bad acoustic guitar, but I love that show. I think it’s really useful to hear about how anyone creates regardless of the artform. Something about just understanding the...[read on]
Learn more about The Poison Flood.

Q&A with Jordan Farmer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

My Book, The Movie: Liv Constantine's "The Wife Stalker"

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Wife Stalker: A Novel by Liv Constantine.

The entry begins:
Every author has more than likely imagined sitting in a darkened movie theatre and seeing the characters they’ve created walk off the page and onto the screen. To hear them speak and watch them interact would be a thrilling experience, and so it is an amusing game the author plays––the game of choosing the actors who would be perfect for each role. Because our stories are equally plot and character driven, our process involves simultaneously fleshing out our characters and loosely outlining the plot, and so from the very beginning we have fun identifying an actor we feel has the qualities and appearance of that character.

The three main characters in The Wife Stalker are: Piper, a young and beautiful mystery woman who moves to Westport, Connecticut after leaving California and a past she wishes to hide; Joanna, a woman committed to caring for her family, and Leo, a high-powered criminal attorney with whom both women are in love. Piper is young, hip, west coast, into yoga, meditation and all things new age. The actor who seems to fit the bill for her is Margot Robbie. Joanna is little older than Piper, settled, down to earth, and fiercely devoted to Leo and children Evie and Stelli. Maggie Gyllenhaal is our choice for Joanna. Leo is smart, decent and going through a rough patch. He’s a character we have warm feelings for, and so the actor we chose needed to be someone we felt the same way about. As we went down the list of possible candidates, we both smiled and nodded when we got to...[read on]
Visit Liv Constantine's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Valerie Constantine & Zorba.

Coffee with a Canine: Lynne Constantine & Greyson.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Mrs. Parrish.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Time I Saw You.

My Book, The Movie: The Wife Stalker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Dete Meserve's "The Good Stranger"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Good Stranger (A Kate Bradley Mystery) by Dete Meserve.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the bestselling author of Good Sam—now a Netflix feature film—comes another Kate Bradley story about the nature of generosity and finding unexpected connections with strangers.

TV reporter Kate Bradley arrives in Manhattan ready to take on a challenging new position as a national news correspondent. When a massive power outage plunges New York City into darkness, the disaster she expected to cover takes an unexpected turn. Someone is leaving thousands of mysterious gifts throughout the city, and the only clue to the giver’s identity is the occasional note from “A Stranger.”

Together with handsome TV series host Scott Jameson, Kate must make sense of these random generous acts, which quickly escalate in scale and capture the attention of viewers across the country. In early-morning stakeouts and late-night surveillance, they crisscross the city hunting down leads, but the elusive Stranger is always one step ahead.

Menacing letters and videos addressed to Kate threaten to derail the investigation, but she’s determined to uncover the identity of the benefactor. The closer Kate gets to the truth, the more clearly she sees that even the smallest act of generosity can bring about powerful change. And it just may take her own selfless act of kindness to solve the feel-good mystery of the year.
Visit Dete Meserve's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Stranger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best books set in Greece

Andrew Bostock first traveled to Greece over 25 years ago, and has lived in the country. He is the author of the Bradt Guide to the Peloponnese region.

At the Guardian, Bostock tagged ten "books will take you [to Greece] and lead you on to other things," including:
The Names by Don DeLillo

Talking of dark undercurrents, this little-known book by a famous author gets beneath the skin of Greece magnificently. It is partly set in the Mani, a rocky and often barren part of the southern mainland where my family lived for several years. It is a starkly beautiful area, dotted with tower house fortifications and small Byzantine chapels, but there is always something lurking in the landscape. Imagine a breeze through olive trees for a moment, and then see what DeLillo does with it: “Wind blew across the olive groves, causing a wild tremor, a kind of panic, treetops going silver.” Anyone who has visited this part of the world outside of the somnambulant summer will instantly know this.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Matthew C. Klein & Michael Pettis's "Trade Wars Are Class Wars"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Trade Wars Are Class Wars: How Rising Inequality Distorts the Global Economy and Threatens International Peace by Matthew C. Klein and Michael Pettis.

About the book, from the publisher:
A provocative look at how today’s trade conflicts are caused by governments promoting the interests of elites at the expense of workers

Trade disputes are usually understood as conflicts between countries with competing national interests, but as Matthew C. Klein and Michael Pettis show, they are often the unexpected result of domestic political choices to serve the interests of the rich at the expense of workers and ordinary retirees. Klein and Pettis trace the origins of today’s trade wars to decisions made by politicians and business leaders in China, Europe, and the United States over the past thirty years. Across the world, the rich have prospered while workers can no longer afford to buy what they produce, have lost their jobs, or have been forced into higher levels of debt. In this thought-provoking challenge to mainstream views, the authors provide a cohesive narrative that shows how the class wars of rising inequality are a threat to the global economy and international peace—and what we can do about it.
Learn more about Trade Wars Are Class Wars at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Trade Wars Are Class Wars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Susan Allott

From my Q&A with Susan Allott, author of The Silence:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The Silence is a mysterious title, deliberately so, hinting at its genre. It’s the kind of title that asks the reader to figure out what it means, but at the same time it’s not so obscure that it can’t be guessed at. I think it hints at the kinds of secrets that are hidden in plain sight, that remain secret because they are too shameful to speak of, that require an unspoken complicity. Which is precisely what The Silence is about: a woman goes missing and it takes 30 years for anyone to report it, or to talk about what happened.

When I was writing, I had in mind The Great Silence as a potential title, which comes from a phrase used by the anthropologist W.E.H. Stanner to describe the way Aboriginal history was obscured by white Australian historians. My agent wasn’t keen on it at the time, and when the novel was submitted to publishers we used the working title Blind Spot. Nobody liked it much, and throughout the editing process we kicked around dozens of ideas for a new title, but we couldn’t reach a consensus. We really wanted a title that everyone loved, so it could have the same title in the UK, Australia and the U.S.

It was getting a bit desperate as we reached the final editing stage without a title, and I thought I was going to have to accept a mediocre title that nobody loved. I looked back through my list of working titles and found The Great Silence. I was sitting at a bus stop emailing my editors and agent, and...[read on]
Visit Susan Allott's website.

Q&A with Susan Allott.

--Marshal Zeringue