Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pg. 99: Matthew Tribbe's "No Requiem for the Space Age"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: No Requiem for the Space Age: The Apollo Moon Landings and American Culture by Matthew D. Tribbe.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the summer of 1969-the summer Americans first walked on the moon-musician and poet Patti Smith recalled strolling down the Coney Island Boardwalk to a refreshment stand, where "pictures of Jesus, President Kennedy, and the astronauts were taped to the wall behind the register." Such was the zeitgeist in the year of the moon. Yet this holy trinity of 1960s America would quickly fall apart. Although Jesus and John F. Kennedy remained iconic, by the time the Apollo Program came to a premature end just three years later few Americans mourned its passing.

Why did support for the space program decrease so sharply by the early 1970s? Rooted in profound scientific and technological leaps, rational technocratic management, and an ambitious view of the universe as a realm susceptible to human mastery, the Apollo moon landings were the grandest manifestation of postwar American progress and seemed to prove that the United States could accomplish anything to which it committed its energies and resources. To the great dismay of its many proponents, however, NASA found the ground shifting beneath its feet as a fierce wave of anti-rationalism arose throughout American society, fostering a cultural environment in which growing numbers of Americans began to contest rather than embrace the rationalist values and vision of progress that Apollo embodied.

Shifting the conversation of Apollo from its Cold War origins to larger trends in American culture and society, and probing an eclectic mix of voices from the era, including intellectuals, religious leaders, rock musicians, politicians, and a variety of everyday Americans, Matthew Tribbe paints an electrifying portrait of a nation in the midst of questioning the very values that had guided it through the postwar years as it began to develop new conceptions of progress that had little to do with blasting ever more men to the moon. No Requiem for the Space Age offers a narrative of the 1960s and 1970s unlike any told before, with the story of Apollo as the story of America itself in a time of dramatic cultural change.
Learn more about No Requiem for the Space Age at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: No Requiem for the Space Age.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 28, 2014

What is Tammy Kaehler reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tammy Kaehler, author of Braking Points.

Her entry begins:
I tend to read a lot of female authors, because I belong to an organization that puts on a Festival of Women Authors every year, and I’m constantly reading to evaluate potential guests. My current list is no exception….

I’m in the middle of Lian Dolan’s Elizabeth the First Wife in order to recommend the author for our event. It seems that Dolan and I graduated from the same college, only five years apart, and we have a mutual contact who recommended Dolan’s books so highly, I had to pick one up. At the halfway point, I’m glad to report that the advance praise I heard is accurate. Elizabeth is a funny, lighthearted novel about relationships (romantic and otherwise) and self-discovery, set in Pasadena, California, and Ashland, Oregon. I’m...[read on]
About Braking Points, from the publisher:
Racecar driver Kate Reilly is suited up and ready for the start of the legendary 24 Hours of Daytona. But what’s ahead will test her will and nerve more than any other endurance race….

Even before the green flag waves over Daytona International Speedway comes word that Kate’s boyfriend Stuart is fighting for his life after a hit-and-run earlier in the day. Still reeling from that news, Kate must absorb other shocks in the race’s opening hours, including an on-track accident with tragic consequences and an eyewitness who claims Stuart was run down deliberately.

Convinced the reason for Stuart’s attack can be found in the race paddock, Kate and her best friend Holly join forces with an investigative reporter to find out who’s after Stuart and why. Alternating stints behind the wheel of her Corvette racecar with stretches of quizzing colleagues and searching for clues, Kate taps every possible source—friend, foe, and family—to help her unmask Stuart’s attacker.

As the race clock counts down to zero hour, Kate must confront her own deeply held fears about life, death, love, and trust before she can sort the truth from the lies around her. Only then can she identify who’s willing to kill to keep a secret buried—and stop them before they lash out again.
Learn more about the book and author at Tammy Kaehler's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Man’s Switch.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Man's Switch.

The Page 69 Test: Braking Points.

Writers Read: Tammy Kaehler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Germaine Greer's 6 favorite books

Germaine Greer is an Australian academic and journalist, and a major feminist voice of the mid-twentieth century. She earned her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1967. Greer's ideas have created controversy ever since The Female Eunuch became an international bestseller in 1970. She is the author of many other books including Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility (1984); The Change: Women, Ageing and the Menopause (1991); Shakespeare's Wife (2007); and The Whole Woman (1999).

Greer's new memoir, White Beech, is an account of the decade she spent converting land that was once a dairy farm back to its primeval state.

One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley

For my seventh birthday, my grandmother gave me this 1863 classic about a child laborer who transforms into a tiny sea creature. My grandmother probably thought that it was just the thing for a child who spent her summers poking around rock pools, but its perverse mixture of real natural history with preposterous fable puzzled me for years.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Amanda Kyle Williams's " Don't Talk to Strangers"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Don't Talk to Strangers by Amanda Kyle Williams.

About the book, from the publisher:
Hailed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as “one of the most addictive new series heroines,” Keye Street is the brilliant, brash heart of a sizzling thriller full of fear and temptation, judgments and secrets, infidelity and murder.

He likes them smart.

In the woods of Whisper, Georgia, two bodies are found: one recently dead, the other decayed from a decade of exposure to the elements. The sheriff is going to need help to track down an experienced predator—one who abducts girls and holds them for months before ending their lives. Enter ex–FBI profiler and private investigator Keye Street.

He lives for the struggle.

After a few weeks, Keye is finally used to sharing her downtown Atlanta loft with her boyfriend, A.P.D. Lieutenant Aaron Rauser. Along with their pets (his dog, her cat) they seem almost like a family. But when Rauser plunks a few ice cubes in a tumbler and pours a whiskey, Keye tenses. Her addiction recovery is tenuous at best.

And loves the fear.

Though reluctant to head out into the country, Keye agrees to assist Sheriff Ken Meltzer. Once in Whisper, where the locals have no love for outsiders, Keye starts to piece together a psychological profile: The killer is someone who stalks and plans and waits. But why does the sociopath hold the victims for so long, and what horrible things must they endure? When a third girl goes missing, Keye races against time to connect the scant bits of evidence. All the while, she cannot shake the chilling feeling: Something dark and disturbing lives in these woods—and it is watching her every move.
Visit Amanda Kyle Williams's website.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Talk to Strangers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ed Lin's "Ghost Month," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Ghost Month by Ed Lin.

The entry begins:
If Ghost Month were made into a film, as the author I would have little to no power in casting it.

I'd be pleased, however, to see in the protagonist Jing-nan's role Mark Chao, who memorably portrayed a guy being raised by a single mom who goes on to join a gang for protection in the Taiwanese film Monga. He can appear conflicted and yet still resolute on what he's decided to do. Most importantly he looks like a music snob. I can see his eyes rolling if someone said Interpol were the new Joy Division.

I'd like to see Louis Ozawa Changchien in the role of the Taiwanese American. Is he a villain? Or is he really looking out for Jing-nan? Louis has a great menacing side, as shown in Predators and The Bourne Legacy, and he can...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Ed Lin's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Snakes Can't Run.

The Page 69 Test: One Red Bastard.

Writers Read: Ed Lin (May 2012).

My Book, The Movie: Ghost Month.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ten top animal villains

Piers Torday was born in Northumberland, which is possibly the one part of England where more animals live than people. After working as a producer and writer in theatre, live comedy and TV, he now lives in London where there are more animals than you might think. His book The Last Wild was released in the US in March and is followed by the sequel, The Dark Wild.

One of Torday's top ten animal villains, as shared at the Guardian:
General Woundwort from Watership Down by Richard Adams

Don’t think rabbits are scary? Think again. Perhaps, in literary terms, a descendant of Napoleon, a large rabbit who “bares his long teeth like a rat’s fangs”. The real life territorial nature of rabbits is given serious bite through this ruthless character’s attempts to grab power, mad enough to nearly kill a cat and attack a dog…
Read about another entry on the list.

Watership Down is a book Junot Díaz hopes parents will read to their kids.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Kelly Fiore reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kelly Fiore, author of Just Like the Movies.

Her entry begins:
Lately, most of the books I read are one of two things – books by friends or books highly recommended by friends. My first recent-read is a little bit of both. Dahlia Adler is an amazingly talented author who I also consider a good friend.

Behind the Scenes by Dahila Adler

There are a lot of things I love about Dahlia’s writing style and characterization, but I think the way she builds friendships is what draws me most to her work. I can hear Dahlia in her characters in the very best way. Her humor, her sarcasm, her emotions – all of them feel so genuine. I may have chosen Dahlia’s book because I know her, but I read the book – and raved about the book – because I loved it. It was, in all ways, an embodiment of what I love about...[read on]
About Just Like the Movies, from the publisher:
Pretty, popular Marijke Monti and over-achieving nerd-girl Lily Spencer have little in common—except that neither feels successful when it comes to love. Marijke can’t get her boyfriend to say “I love you” and Lily can’t get a boyfriend at all. When the girls end up at a late night showing of Titanic, sniffling along with the sinking ship, they realize that their love lives could—and should—be better. Which sparks an idea: Why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they create perfect romantic situations? Now they have a budding friendship and a plan—to act out grand gestures and get the guys of their dreams. It seems like fun at first, but reality turns out to be much more complicated, and they didn’t take into account that finding true love usually requires finding yourself first.
Visit Kelly Fiore's website.

Writers Read: Kelly Fiore.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that changed Dav Pilkey

Dav Pilkey has written and illustrated numerous popular, award-winning books for children, including the Captain Underpants and Dumb Bunnies series.

One of five books that changed him, as shared with the Sydney Morning Herald:
Peanuts Treasury - Charles M. Schulz

I grew up with ADHD and dyslexia, so reading was a real challenge for me as a kid. Struggling through a book was difficult and boring, so I avoided it whenever I could. My teachers weren't fans of these books. I still remember one librarian telling me that they weren't even real books at all. It didn't matter. They got me to read. They held my attention. And the more time I spent poring through these books, the more proficient I became at reading. These books not only taught me how to read, they taught me that reading can be fun.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Robert Geraci's "Virtually Sacred"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Virtually Sacred: Myth and Meaning in World of Warcraft and Second Life by Robert M. Geraci.

About the book, from the publisher:
Millions of users have taken up residence in virtual worlds, and in those worlds they find opportunities to revisit and rewrite their religious lives. Robert M. Geraci argues that virtual worlds and video games have become a locus for the satisfaction of religious needs, providing many users with devoted communities, opportunities for ethical reflection, a meaningful experience of history and human activity, and a sense of transcendence. Using interviews, surveys, and his own first-hand experience within the virtual worlds, Geraci shows how World of Warcraft and Second Life provide participants with the opportunity to rethink what it means to be religious in the contemporary world. Not all participants use virtual worlds for religious purposes, but many online residents use them to rearrange or replace religious practice as designers and users collaborate in the production of a new spiritual marketplace.

Using World of Warcraft and Second Life as case studies, this book shows that many residents now use virtual worlds to re-imagine their traditions and work to restore them to "authentic" sanctity, or else replace religious institutions with virtual communities that provide meaning and purpose to human life. For some online residents, virtual worlds are even keys to a post-human future where technology can help us transcend mortal life. Geraci argues that World of Warcraft and Second Life are "virtually sacred" because they do religious work. They often do such work without regard for-and frequently in conflict with-traditional religious institutions and practices; ultimately they participate in our sacred landscape as outsiders, competitors, and collaborators.
Learn more about Virtually Sacred at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Virtually Sacred.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ten of the best fictional feminists

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ester Bloom tagged ten favorite fictional feminists, including:
Mildred Pierce (Mildred Pierce, by James M. Cain)

Care for a pie, or some chicken? The no-nonsense housewife at the center of this small, midcentury masterpiece, tired of being subject to various men, launches her own entrepreneurial enterprise. It goes great! Until, at least, she is undermined by her conniving daughter, who represents Traditional Femininity and a patriarchal society’s desire to keep women in their place. Ultimately, though, we have no doubt that Mildred, like the other feminists in this list, will rise from her own ashes. She is too tough and resourceful to do otherwise.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Adam Nevill's "The House of Small Shadows"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill.

About the book, from the publisher:
Catherine's last job ended badly. Corporate bullying at a top antiques publication saw her fired and forced to leave London, but she was determined to get her life back. A new job and a few therapists later, things look much brighter. Especially when a challenging new project presents itself — to catalogue the late M. H. Mason's wildly eccentric cache of antique dolls and puppets. Rarest of all, she'll get to examine his elaborate displays of posed, costumed and preserved animals, depicting bloody scenes from World War II. Catherine can't believe her luck when Mason's elderly niece invites her to stay at Red House itself, where she maintains the collection until his niece exposes her to the dark message behind her uncle's "Art." Catherine tries to concentrate on the job, but Mason's damaged visions begin to raise dark shadows from her own past. Shadows she'd hoped therapy had finally erased. Soon the barriers between reality, sanity and memory start to merge and some truths seem too terrible to be real... in The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill.
Learn more about the book and author at Adam Nevill's website.

The Page 69 Test: The House of Small Shadows.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Kimberly Elkins reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kimberly Elkins, author of What Is Visible.

Her entry begins:
At this stage in my life, I always seem to be skipping back and forth between books, double- or triple-dipping, paying attention to whichever direction my emotional, intellectual, or even spiritual compass guides that day or that hour.

An esteemed writer friend recommended David Samuel Levinson’s recent debut novel, Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence, and I immediately saw why: the prose is brilliant--lush but precise--and the breathtaking plot the kind usually reserved for genre works, but here elevated to Nabokovian literary heights. You know you really love a book when...[read on]
About What Is Visible, from the publisher:
A vividly original literary novel based on the astounding true-life story of Laura Bridgman, the first deaf and blind person who learned language and blazed a trail for Helen Keller.

At age two, Laura Bridgman lost four of her five senses to scarlet fever. At age seven, she was taken to Perkins Institute in Boston to determine if a child so terribly afflicted could be taught. At age twelve, Charles Dickens declared her his prime interest for visiting America. And by age twenty, she was considered the nineteenth century's second most famous woman, having mastered language and charmed the world with her brilliance. Not since The Diving Bell and the Butterfly has a book proven so profoundly moving in illuminating the challenges of living in a completely unique inner world.

With Laura-by turns mischievous, temperamental, and witty-as the book's primary narrator, the fascinating kaleidoscope of characters includes the founder of Perkins Institute, Samuel Gridley Howe, with whom she was in love; his wife, the glamorous Julia Ward Howe, a renowned writer, abolitionist, and suffragist; Laura's beloved teacher, who married a missionary and died insane from syphilis; an Irish orphan with whom Laura had a tumultuous affair; Annie Sullivan; and even the young Helen Keller.

Deeply enthralling and rich with lyricism, WHAT IS VISIBLE chronicles the breathtaking experiment that Laura Bridgman embodied and its links to the great social, philosophical, theological, and educational changes rocking Victorian America. Given Laura's worldwide fame in the nineteenth century, it is astonishing that she has been virtually erased from history. WHAT IS VISIBLE will set the record straight.
Visit Kimberly Elkins's website.

My Book, The Movie: What Is Visible.

The Page 69 Test: What Is Visible.

Writers Read: Kimberly Elkins.

--Marshal Zeringue

Arthur Allen's "The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl by Arthur Allen.

The entry begins:
I’m Steven Spielberg, or Agnieska Holland, or … Steven Soderbergh? Jim Jarmusch? It’s another beautiful day in Hollywood. The casting agent is in my office now (is that how it works?) and, over wheatgrass juice, Ethiopian coffee and macadamia nuts, we’re examining her selections for my pic, The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl….

For some reason I’ve always imagined Ben Kingsley in the role of Ludwik Fleck. He’s monkish, intelligent, sly —a reprise of Kingsley’s 1982 role as Mahatma Gandhi. On the other hand, maybe Kingsley’s too old. Adrien Brody? Moritz Bleibtreu? (Run, Lola, Run; Munich.)

Ernestyna Fleck I had figured as Meryl Streep… but she’s a bit long in the tooth for the role (did it take me that long to finish this book?). Sophie Marceau? Marion Cotillard?

Already, I can see that it’s a good thing I didn’t quit my day job…

For Rudolf Weigl...[read on]
Learn more about The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl: How Two Brave Scientists Battled Typhus and Sabotaged the Nazis.

Visit Arthur Allen's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 25, 2014

Five notable books on cycling

One title on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on cycling:
Life Is a Wheel by Bruce Weber

The easy joke about fifty-seven-year-old obituary writer Bruce Weber taking a cross-country bike ride across America is that the next notice he'll write will be his own. But with a stoic's wit, Weber's brisk musings prove not only fun but downright life-affirming. Weber approaches his daunting trip as a "midlife reckoning story" of learning to live in the present: "Never wish away distance. Never wish away time." Weber's strong, silent nature gives him the air of a sage who speaks volumes when it counts. Call it "Zen and the Art of Ten-Speed Maintenance."
Read about another book on the list.

Also see John Mullan's list of ten of the best bicycles in literature, Marjorie Kehe's list of ten great books about cycling, Matt Seaton's top 10 books about cycling, and William Fotherham's top ten cycling novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: M. D. Waters's "Prototype"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Prototype by M. D. Waters.

About the book, from the publisher:
The stunning debut that began with Archetype— and has readers buzzing—concludes in Prototype, when a woman’s dual pasts lock onto a collision course, threatening her present and future.

Emma looks forward to the day when she can let go of her past—both of them. After more than a year on the run, with clues to her parents’ whereabouts within her grasp, she may finally find a place to settle down. Start a new life. Maybe even create new memories with a new family.

But the past rises to haunt her and to make sure there’s nowhere on the planet she can hide. Declan Burke wants his wife back, and with a little manipulation and a lot of reward money, he’s got the entire world on his side. Except for the one man she dreads confronting the most: Noah Tucker.

Emma returns to face what she’s done but finds that the past isn’t the problem. It’s the present—and the future it represents. Noah has moved on and another woman is raising their daughter.

In the shocking conclusion to M.D. Waters’s spectacular debut, Emma battles for her life and her freedom, tearing down walls and ripping off masks to reveal the truth. She’s decided to play their game and prove she isn’t the woman they thought she was. Even if it means she winds up dead. Or worse, reborn.
Visit M. D. Waters's website.

Writers Read: M. D. Waters.

My Book, The Movie: Prototype.

The Page 69 Test: Prototype.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kenneth Kolb's "Moral Wages"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Moral Wages: The Emotional Dilemmas of Victim Advocacy and Counseling by Kenneth H. Kolb.

About the book, from the publisher:
Moral Wages offers the reader a vivid depiction of what it is like to work inside an agency that assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Based on over a year of fieldwork by a man in a setting many presume to be hostile to men, this ethnographic account is unlike most research on the topic of violence against women. Instead of focusing on the victims or perpetrators of abuse, Moral Wages focuses exclusively on the service providers in the middle. It shows how victim advocates and counselors—who don't enjoy extrinsic benefits like pay, power, and prestige—are sustained by a different kind of compensation. As long as they can overcome a number of workplace dilemmas, they earn a special type of emotional reward reserved for those who help others in need: moral wages. As their struggles mount, though, it becomes clear that their jobs often put them in impossible situations—requiring them to aid and feel for vulnerable clients, yet giving them few and feeble tools to combat a persistent social problem.
Learn more about Moral Wages at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Moral Wages.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top injustices inflicted on fictional characters

Jonathan Meres is based in Edinburgh. A former stand-up comedian, he has won a Time Out award for comedy and was nominated for The Perrier Award. Having left behind his stand-up days, Meres now classifies himself as a writer and an actor, strictly in that order.

For the Guardian he shared his top ten books that are so unfair, including:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the ultimate reality show, there's only one rule. Kill or be killed. It's so unfair. Especially as 16-year-old Jennifer Lawrence – sorry, Katniss Everdeen was planning to meet her mates in the mall and go for a pizza. Or something. Sorry, I'm just a bit bitter because I actually had an idea for a book a few years ago, about "the ultimate reality show" but I just never got round to writing it. Oh well. That'll learn me.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Hunger Games also appears on SF Said's top ten list of unlikely heroes, Rebecca Jane Stokes's top eight list of books perfect for reality TV fiends, Chrissie Gruebel's list of favorite fictional fashion icons, Lucy Christopher's top ten list of literary woods, Robert McCrum's list of the ten best books with teenage narrators, Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of teen thrillers, Gregg Olsen's top ten list of deadly YA books, Annalee Newitz's list of ten great American dystopias, Philip Webb's top ten list of pulse-racing adventure books, Charlie Higson's top ten list of fantasy books for children, and Megan Wasson's list of five fantasy series geared towards teens that adults will love too.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What is Tom Young reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tom Young, author of Sand and Fire.

His entry begins:
A lot of my reading lately has come in an effort to fill gaps in my knowledge of history, especially recent history. With that goal in mind, I’ve begun reading The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s three-volume nonfiction work about the Soviet prison camp system and his own years as a political prisoner.

As Anne Applebaum’s foreword points out, The Gulag Archipelago is itself a part of history, having first been circulated in the author’s home country in unbound, hand-typed form. Solzhenitsyn describes how a nighttime knock on the door could catapult practically any Soviet citizen from the embrace of family to the torments of the gulag. The victims often had no idea why. A petty rivalry or an incautious word could ruin a life. And, as the author puts it, arrests could...[read on]
About Sand and Fire, from the publisher:
North Africa. A jihadist leader has seized a supply of sarin gas and is wreaking havoc: a nightclub in Sicily, a packed street in Gibraltar. Acting on information, Marine gunnery sergeant A. E. Blount, at six-foot-eight a formidable warrior, the grandson of one of the first black Marines, sets out with his strike force to kill or capture the terrorist.

But it is a trap. Several Marines are killed, some are captured, and the jihadist promises that unless forces withdraw, he will execute one prisoner a day. Immediately, Blount’s friends and colleagues Sophia Gold, now with the U.N., and Lieutenant Colonel Michael Parson, working for the United States Africa Command, rush to Libya to help coordinate rescue efforts. The ordeal, however, has only begun. Soon they will all be fighting for their lives in the sand and fire of the desert.
Learn more about the book and author at Thomas W. Young's website and blog.

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.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top holidays in fiction

Emma Straub is the author of the novels The Vacationers and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, and the short story collection Other People We Married. One of her top ten holidays in fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Because sociopaths like to take holidays too! Highsmith's much-loved villain heads to Italy in this novel, where he follows and then kills a high-born man he pretends to know from school. I don't know whether Facebook has made this sort of thing easier or more difficult. Easier, I fear. Watch out when someone claims to have taken English class with you in grade 10.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Talented Mr Ripley is on E. Lockhart's list of favorite suspense novels, Sally O'Reilly's top ten list of novels inspired by Shakespeare, Walter Kirn's top six list of books on deception, Stephen May's top ten list of impostors in fiction, Simon Mason's top ten list of chilling fictional crimes, Melissa Albert's list of eight books to change a villain, Koren Zailckas's list of eleven of literature's more evil characters, Alex Berenson's five best list of books about Americans abroad John Mullan's list of ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, Tana French's top ten maverick mysteries list, the Guardian's list of the 50 best summer reads ever, the Telegraph's ultimate reading list, and Francesca Simon's top ten list of antiheroes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kimberly Elkins's "What Is Visible"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: What Is Visible: A Novel by Kimberly Elkins.

About the book, from the publisher:
A vividly original literary novel based on the astounding true-life story of Laura Bridgman, the first deaf and blind person who learned language and blazed a trail for Helen Keller.

At age two, Laura Bridgman lost four of her five senses to scarlet fever. At age seven, she was taken to Perkins Institute in Boston to determine if a child so terribly afflicted could be taught. At age twelve, Charles Dickens declared her his prime interest for visiting America. And by age twenty, she was considered the nineteenth century's second most famous woman, having mastered language and charmed the world with her brilliance. Not since The Diving Bell and the Butterfly has a book proven so profoundly moving in illuminating the challenges of living in a completely unique inner world.

With Laura-by turns mischievous, temperamental, and witty-as the book's primary narrator, the fascinating kaleidoscope of characters includes the founder of Perkins Institute, Samuel Gridley Howe, with whom she was in love; his wife, the glamorous Julia Ward Howe, a renowned writer, abolitionist, and suffragist; Laura's beloved teacher, who married a missionary and died insane from syphilis; an Irish orphan with whom Laura had a tumultuous affair; Annie Sullivan; and even the young Helen Keller.

Deeply enthralling and rich with lyricism, WHAT IS VISIBLE chronicles the breathtaking experiment that Laura Bridgman embodied and its links to the great social, philosophical, theological, and educational changes rocking Victorian America. Given Laura's worldwide fame in the nineteenth century, it is astonishing that she has been virtually erased from history. WHAT IS VISIBLE will set the record straight.
Visit Kimberly Elkins's website.

My Book, The Movie: What Is Visible.

The Page 69 Test: What Is Visible.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Elvin T. Lim's "The Lovers' Quarrel"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Lovers' Quarrel: The Two Foundings and American Political Development by Elvin T. Lim.

About the book, from the publisher:
The United States has had not one, but two Foundings. The Constitution produced by the Second Founding came to be only after a vociferous battle between Federalists and Anti-Federalists. The Federalists favored a relatively powerful central government, while the Anti-Federalists distrusted the concentration of power in one place and advocated the preservation of sovereignty in the states as crucibles of post-revolutionary republicanism -- the legacy of the First Founding. This philosophical cleavage has been at the heart of practically every major political conflict in U.S. history, and lives on today in debates between modern liberals and conservatives.

In The Lovers' Quarrel, Elvin T. Lim presents a systematic and innovative analysis of this perennial struggle. The framers of the second Constitution, the Federalists, were not operating in an ideational or institutional vacuum; rather, the document they drafted and ratified was designed to remedy the perceived flaws of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. To decouple the Two Foundings is to appreciate that there is no such thing as "original meaning," only original dissent. Because the Anti-Federalists insisted that prior and democratically sanctioned understandings of federalism and union had to be negotiated and partially grafted onto the new Constitution, the Constitution's Articles and the Bill of Rights do not cohere as well together as has conventionally been thought. Rather, they represent two antithetical orientations toward power, liberty, and republicanism. The altercation over the necessity of the Second Founding generated coherent and self-contained philosophies that would become the core of American political thought, reproduced and transmitted across two centuries, whether the victors were the neo-Federalists (such as during the Civil War and the New Deal) or the neo-Anti-Federalists (such as during the Jacksonian era and the Reagan Revolution).

The Second Founding -- the sole "founding" that we generally speak of -- would become a template for the unique, prototypically American species of politics and political debate. Because of it, American political development occurs only after the political entrepreneurs of each generation lock horns in a Lovers' Quarrel about the principles of one of the Two Foundings, and succeed in justifying and forging a durable expansion or contraction of federal authority.
Learn more about the book and author at Elvin Lim's website.

The Page 99 Test: Elvin Lim's The Anti-Intellectual Presidency: The Decline of Presidential Rhetoric from George Washington to George W. Bush.

The Page 99 Test: The Lovers' Quarrel.

--Marshal Zeringue

M. D. Waters's "Prototype," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Prototype by M. D. Waters.

The entry begins:
I chose my character inspiration for Archetype really early on. Almost immediately I saw Katie Holmes as Emma, but if I had to choose someone to play her in the movie I’d choose Jennifer Lawrence. She’s truly a brilliant actress and capable of all sorts of roles.

As for Declan and Noah, I had Bradley Cooper and the model David Gandy in mind. I wouldn’t mind seeing Bradley playing Noah, but I also think Charlie...[read on]
Visit M. D. Waters's website.

Writers Read: M. D. Waters.

My Book, The Movie: Prototype.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ten top unlikely heroes

SF Said is an award-winning author. He was born in Lebanon in 1967, but has lived in London since he was 2 years old. His novels include Varjak Paw (2003), the sequel, The Outlaw Varjak Paw (2005), and PHOENIX (2013), an epic space adventure for readers of 9 and up.

For the Guardian, Said tagged his ten favorite "underdogs who come good and save the day," including:
The hobbits in The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

In a world full of wizards and warriors and magical elves… it's the smallest, least conventionally heroic characters who save the day. I devoured Tolkien's epic when I was 11. It had a massive impact on me, increased by Peter Jackson's wonderful films. I cry every time at that scene at the end, where the newly-crowned King Aragorn bows down to the hobbits – and every single hero of Middle Earth follows suit.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Lord of the Rings also made Nicole Hill's top eight list of notable royal figures in fiction, Becky Ferreira's top seven list of bromances in literature, Nicole Hill's list of eleven of the most eccentric relatives in fiction, Nicole Hill's top seven list of literary wedding themes, Charlie Jane Anders's list of fifteen moments from science fiction and fantasy that will make absolutely anyone cry, Elizabeth Wein's top ten list of dynamic duos in fiction, Katharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten sources that inspired the dark storytelling of Game of Thrones, Rob Bricken's list of 11 preposterously manly fantasy series, Conrad Mason's top ten list of magical objects in fiction, Linus Roache's six best books list, Derek Landy's top ten list of villains in children's books, Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs' list of ten classic SF books that were originally considered failures, Lev Grossman's list of the six greatest fantasy books of all time, and appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best women dressed as men, ten of the best bows and arrows in literature, ten of the best beards in literature, ten of the best towers in literature, ten of the best volcanoes in literature, ten of the best chases in literature, and ten of the best monsters in literature. It is one of Salman Rushdie's five best fantasy novels for all ages. It is a book that made a difference to Pat Conroy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jeri Westerson's "Cup of Blood"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Cup of Blood by Jeri Westerson.

About the book, from the publisher:
London 1384 When a corpse turns up at his favorite tavern, Crispin begins an inquiry, but the dead man turns out to be a Knight Templar, an order thought to be extinct for 75 years, charged with protecting a certain religious relic which is now missing. Before he can begin to investigate, Crispin is abducted by shadowy men who are said to be the minions of the French anti-pope. Further complicating matters are two women: one from court with an enticing proposition, and another from Crispin’s past, dredging up long-forgotten emotions he would rather have left behind. And as if all that weren’t bad enough, a cunning young cutpurse by the name of Jack Tucker has insinuated himself into Crispin’s already difficult life. The deeper Crispin probes into the murder, the more it looks like the handiwork of an old friend turned adversary. With enemies from all sides, Crispin has his hands full in more than murder.
Learn more about the author and her work at Jeri Westerson's website and her "Getting Medieval" blog.

Westerson's first six books featuring Crispin Guest are Veil of Lies, Serpent in the Thorns, The Demon's Parchment, Troubled Bones, Blood Lance, and Shadow of the Alchemist.

The Page 69 Test: Veil of Lies.

The Page 69 Test: Serpent in the Thorns.

The Page 69 Test: The Demon's Parchment.

My Book, The Movie: The Demon's Parchment.

The Page 69 Test: Troubled Bones.

The Page 69 Test: Blood Lance.

The Page 69 Test: Shadow of the Alchemist.

The Page 69 Test: Cup of Blood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Robert Garland's "Wandering Greeks"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Wandering Greeks: The Ancient Greek Diaspora from the Age of Homer to the Death of Alexander the Great by Robert Garland.

About the book, from the publisher:
Most classical authors and modern historians depict the ancient Greek world as essentially stable and even static, once the so-called colonization movement came to an end. But Robert Garland argues that the Greeks were highly mobile, that their movement was essential to the survival, success, and sheer sustainability of their society, and that this wandering became a defining characteristic of their culture. Addressing a neglected but essential subject, Wandering Greeks focuses on the diaspora of tens of thousands of people between about 700 and 325 BCE, demonstrating the degree to which Greeks were liable to be forced to leave their homes due to political upheaval, oppression, poverty, warfare, or simply a desire to better themselves.

Attempting to enter into the mind-set of these wanderers, the book provides an insightful and sympathetic account of what it meant for ancient Greeks to part from everyone and everything they held dear, to start a new life elsewhere--or even to become homeless, living on the open road or on the high seas with no end to their journey in sight. Each chapter identifies a specific kind of "wanderer," including the overseas settler, the deportee, the evacuee, the asylum-seeker, the fugitive, the economic migrant, and the itinerant, and the book also addresses repatriation and the idea of the "portable polis." The result is a vivid and unique portrait of ancient Greece as a culture of displaced persons.
Learn more about Wandering Greeks at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Wandering Greeks.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is M. D. Waters reading?

Featured at Writers Read: M. D. Waters, author of Prototype.

Her entry begins:
I’m currently in the middle of Amped by Daniel H. Wilson, which takes a very likely future and sets us in the worst possible outcome. What if we could use technology to, not only make us smarter, but control seizures and other such medical issues? What if the human race got scared because the technology worked? What if the government listened to our fears and decided to take action? There’s a...[read on]
About  Prototype, from the publisher:
The stunning debut that began with Archetype— and has readers buzzing—concludes in Prototype, when a woman’s dual pasts lock onto a collision course, threatening her present and future.

Emma looks forward to the day when she can let go of her past—both of them. After more than a year on the run, with clues to her parents’ whereabouts within her grasp, she may finally find a place to settle down. Start a new life. Maybe even create new memories with a new family.

But the past rises to haunt her and to make sure there’s nowhere on the planet she can hide. Declan Burke wants his wife back, and with a little manipulation and a lot of reward money, he’s got the entire world on his side. Except for the one man she dreads confronting the most: Noah Tucker.

Emma returns to face what she’s done but finds that the past isn’t the problem. It’s the present—and the future it represents. Noah has moved on and another woman is raising their daughter.

In the shocking conclusion to M.D. Waters’s spectacular debut, Emma battles for her life and her freedom, tearing down walls and ripping off masks to reveal the truth. She’s decided to play their game and prove she isn’t the woman they thought she was. Even if it means she winds up dead. Or worse, reborn.
Visit M. D. Waters's website.

Writers Read: M. D. Waters.

--Marshal Zeringue