Sunday, May 01, 2016

Pg. 99: Emily Edwards's "Bars, Blues, and Booze"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Bars, Blues, and Booze: Stories from the Drink House by Emily D. Edwards.

About the book, from the publisher:
True accounts from musicians, bar owners, and regulars at the crossroads of good times and despair

Bars, Blues, and Booze collects lively bar tales from the intersection of black and white musical cultures in the South. Many of these stories do not seem dignified, decent, or filled with uplifting euphoria, but they are real narratives of people who worked hard with their hands during the week to celebrate the weekend with music and mind-altering substances. These are stories of musicians who may not be famous celebrities but are men and women deeply occupied with their craft--professional musicians stuck with a day job.

The collection also includes stories from fans and bar owners, people vital to shaping a local music scene. The stories explore the "crossroads," that intoxicated intersection of spirituality, race, and music that forms a rich, southern vernacular. In personal narratives, musicians and partygoers relate tales of narrow escape (almost getting busted by the law while transporting moonshine), of desperate poverty (rat-infested kitchens and repossessed cars), of magic (hiring a root doctor to make a charm), and loss (death or incarceration). Here are stories of defiant miscegenation, of forgetting race and going out to eat together after a jam, and then not being served. Assorted boasts of improbable hijinks give the "blue collar" musician a wild, gritty glamour and emphasize the riotous freedom of their fans, who sometimes risk the strong arm of southern liquor laws in order to chase the good times.
Visit the official Bars, Blues & Booze website.

Writers Read: Emily D. Edwards.

The Page 99 Test: Bars, Blues, and Booze.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Nine classic YA novels primed for genderbent versions

At the B&N Teen Blog Natalie Zutter tagged nine classic Young Adult books ripe for some creative genderbending of the main characters, including:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

For most of these I’m genderswapping the entire cast of characters, but I personally would want to read a version of Perks where only Charlie is genderbent, and everyone else stays the same. That would tweak each of the dynamics in key ways: Sam taking an interest in Charlie and giving her her first kiss from someone who loves her might help Charlie better relate to the closeted Patrick. Furthermore, there’s something more damning in being a girl who’s a wallflower than a boy, in shrinking away from the scrutinizing gaze of her peers and adults in equal measure; I’d want to see a book like this address a young woman finding her place without the social requirements of prettiness or popularity.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is on John Corey Whaley's top ten list of coming of age books for teens, Ema O'Connor's top ten list "of the most rockin’ songs mentioned in the most rockin’ books", and Lauren Passell's list of the best Manic Pixie Dream Girls in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Emily D. Edwards reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Emily D. Edwards, author of Bars, Blues, and Booze: Stories from the Drink House.

Her entry begins:
I am a college professor at the end of a semester, so currently all I have time to read are student screenplays and term papers. However, last week I did manage to sneak in Stitches: A Memoir by David Small, a beautifully and poignantly realized graphic novel of family drama from...[read on]
About Bars, Blues, and Booze, from the publisher:
True accounts from musicians, bar owners, and regulars at the crossroads of good times and despair

Bars, Blues, and Booze collects lively bar tales from the intersection of black and white musical cultures in the South. Many of these stories do not seem dignified, decent, or filled with uplifting euphoria, but they are real narratives of people who worked hard with their hands during the week to celebrate the weekend with music and mind-altering substances. These are stories of musicians who may not be famous celebrities but are men and women deeply occupied with their craft--professional musicians stuck with a day job.

The collection also includes stories from fans and bar owners, people vital to shaping a local music scene. The stories explore the "crossroads," that intoxicated intersection of spirituality, race, and music that forms a rich, southern vernacular. In personal narratives, musicians and partygoers relate tales of narrow escape (almost getting busted by the law while transporting moonshine), of desperate poverty (rat-infested kitchens and repossessed cars), of magic (hiring a root doctor to make a charm), and loss (death or incarceration). Here are stories of defiant miscegenation, of forgetting race and going out to eat together after a jam, and then not being served. Assorted boasts of improbable hijinks give the "blue collar" musician a wild, gritty glamour and emphasize the riotous freedom of their fans, who sometimes risk the strong arm of southern liquor laws in order to chase the good times.
Visit the official Bars, Blues & Booze website.

Writers Read: Emily D. Edwards.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Renee Patrick's "Design for Dying"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Design for Dying: A Lillian Frost & Edith Head Novel by Renee Patrick.

About the book, from the publisher:
Los Angeles, 1937. Lillian Frost has traded dreams of stardom for security as a department store salesgirl . . . until she discovers she's a suspect in the murder of her former roommate, Ruby Carroll. Party girl Ruby died wearing a gown she stole from the wardrobe department at Paramount Pictures, domain of Edith Head.

Edith has yet to win the first of her eight Academy Awards; right now she's barely hanging on to her job, and a scandal is the last thing she needs. To clear Lillian's name and save Edith's career, the two women join forces.

Unraveling the mystery pits them against a Hungarian princess on the lam, a hotshot director on the make, and a private investigator who's not on the level. All they have going for them are dogged determination, assists from the likes of Bob Hope and Barbara Stanwyck, and a killer sense of style. In show business, that just might be enough.

The first in a series of riveting behind-the-scenes mysteries, Renee Patrick's Design for Dying is a delightful romp through Hollywood's Golden Age.
Visit Renee Patrick's website.

The Page 69 Test: Design for Dying.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jaime Clarke's "Garden Lakes," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Garden Lakes by Jaime Clarke.

The entry begins:
The last novel in my Charlie Martens trilogy, Garden Lakes, is an homage to Lord of the Flies and so Hollywood could potentially fill the cast with the latest, up-to-the minute stars, of which I’m oblivious, sadly. I’ve reached that midpoint in life where I no longer recognize the faces on supermarket magazine covers and the names of hot young movie stars don’t register. But I’d happily sit in the front row and watch a film adaptation of Garden Lakes, especially if it captured the menace of life in the Arizona desert, a place where I spent my formative years.

The Martens trilogy begins with Vernon Downs and my wife and I once spit-balled a film version that I still think about from time to time. The title character in the novel is based on the novelist Bret Easton Ellis, and Charlie’s girlfriend is a fan. But when she dumps him and disappears back to her native England, Charlie concocts a plan to go to New York City and get close to Vernon Downs to impress and win back his ex. He becomes obsessed with Downs and insinuates himself into Downs’s life, ultimately impersonating Downs when Downs goes on a writing retreat and asks Charlie to apartment sit for him and organize his archives.

In our idea for the film adaptation, my wife and I kept the premise but radically changed the narrative. In our film, which we dreamed would be called Ensemble, a washed out wannabe actor would be obsessed with Academy Award-winning actor Chris Cooper, who I think all moviegoers can agree is always the best part of any film, and often the glue in big ensemble movies. And here’s the hook: Chris Cooper would play...[read on]
Visit Jaime Clarke's website.

My Book, The Movie: Garden Lakes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 29, 2016

Ten top thrilling locations in children’s books

Dark Parties, Sara Grant's first young adult novel, won the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Crystal Kite Award for Europe. Her new series is Chasing Danger – an action-adventure series for tweens.

One of Grant's top ten thrilling locations in children’s books, as shared at the Guardian:
Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

The Arctic Circle in 1910 offers the perfect eerie setting for Sedgwick’s psychological thriller. Young Sig Andersson is alone with his father’s frozen corpse and a Colt revolver hidden in the storeroom. What a premise!
Read about another entry on the list.

Revolver is among Daniel Hahn's top eight YA novels that adults also should read.

Visit Sara Grant's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Lisa Black reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Lisa Black, author of That Darkness.

Her entry begins:
The Confidence Game by Maria Konnikova

Could you just help me out? I don’t need any money, I swear, I just have to tell you about this deal/ inheritance/ tragedy/ hot stock tip/ cache of long-lost artworks that I need help to distribute. I’m not asking for money—that’s not what this is about, trust me.

No, trust me—that’s exactly what it’s about.

This isn’t just a book about great swindles throughout history, though there are plenty of anecdotes and tales to illustrate the points made. It is a dive into the psychology of belief, why we trust, why intelligent, successful people fall for what seems, in hindsight, the most fantastical bald-faced lies ever to fall on all-too-willing ears.

Basically it comes down to the fact that...[read on]
About That Darkness, from the publisher:
In this tour de force of psychological suspense, bestselling author Lisa Black draws from her experience as a forensic investigator to create two of the most fascinating characters in crime fiction: a killer with a unique sense of justice and a woman in a lifelong relationship with death…

That Darkness

As a forensic investigator for the Cleveland Police Department, Maggie Gardiner has seen her share of Jane Does. The latest is an unidentified female in her early teens, discovered in a local cemetery. More shocking than the girl's injuries--for Maggie at least--is the fact that no one has reported her missing. She and the detectives assigned to the case (including her cop ex-husband) are determined to follow every lead, run down every scrap of evidence. But the monster they seek is watching every move, closer to them than they could possibly imagine.

Jack Renner is a killer. He doesn't murder because he enjoys it, or because he believes himself omnipotent, or for any reason other than to make the world a safer place. When he follows the trail of this Jane Doe to a locked room in a small apartment where eighteen teenaged girls are anything but safe, he knows something must be done. But his pursuit of their captor takes an unexpected turn.

Maggie Gardiner finds another body waiting for her in the autopsy room--and a host of questions that will challenge everything she believes about justice, morality, and the true nature of evil…
Learn more about the book and author at Lisa Black's website.

Writers Read: Lisa Black.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Melanie Conklin's "Counting Thyme"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Newbery-winning Rules meets Counting by 7s in this affecting story of a girl’s devotion to her brother and what it means to be home

When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary.

After Val’s treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the frightening possibility that the move to New York is permanent. Thyme loves her brother, and knows the trial could save his life—she’d give anything for him to be well—but she still wants to go home, although the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. She finds herself even more mixed up when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush, and even a crotchety neighbor and his sweet whistling bird. All Thyme can do is count the minutes, the hours, and days, and hope time can bring both a miracle for Val and a way back home.

With equal parts heart and humor, Melanie Conklin’s debut is a courageous and charming story of love and family—and what it means to be counted.
Visit Melanie Conklin's website, Twitter perch, and watch the Counting Thyme book trailer.

The Page 69 Test: Counting Thyme.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Scott Bukatman's "Hellboy's World"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Hellboy's World: Comics and Monsters on the Margins by Scott Bukatman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Hellboy, Mike Mignola’s famed comic book demon hunter, wanders through a haunting and horrific world steeped in the history of weird fictions and wide-ranging folklores. Hellboy's World shows how our engagement with Hellboy's world is a highly aestheticized encounter with comics and their materiality. Scott Bukatman’s dynamic study explores how comics produce a heightened “adventure of reading” in which syntheses of image and word, image sequences, and serial narratives create compelling worlds for the reader’s imagination to inhabit. Drawing upon other media—including children’s books, sculpture, pulp fiction, cinema, graphic design, painting, and illuminated manuscripts—Bukatman reveals the mechanics of creating a world on the page. He also demonstrates the pleasurable and multiple complexities of the reader’s experience, invoking the riotous colors of comics that elude rationality and control and delving into shared fictional universes and occult detection, the horror genre and the evocation of the sublime, and the place of abstraction in Mignola’s art. Monsters populate the world of Hellboy comics, but Bukatman argues that comics are themselves little monsters, unruly sites of sensory and cognitive pleasures that exist, happily, on the margins. The book is not only a treat for Hellboy fans, but it will entice anyone interested in the medium of comics and the art of reading.
Learn more about Hellboy's World at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Hellboy's World.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Top ten short stories on crossing boundaries

Light Box is K J Orr's first collection of short stories. One of her top ten short stories that hinge on crossing boundaries, as shared at the Guardian:
"Wenlock Edge" by Alice Munro

A young female student agrees to spend an evening with her roommate’s controlling older lover. Boundaries of body and mind are challenged in a disturbing rite of passage, made more powerful by the girl’s visceral retrospective realisation of what has happened to her. Munro is masterful at testing boundaries, both literal and metaphorical.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Caragh M. O'Brien reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Caragh M. O'Brien, author of The Rule of Mirrors.

Her entry begins:
You should probably know up front that I’m a slow reader. I’m also an impatient reader. For a book to work for me, it has to grip me both with a certain line-by-line delight and ideas that startle and intrigue me. The following five books all do.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

People have been telling me for ages to read this novel, but the toys on the cover always made me doubt that it was my sort of book. It is completely my sort of book. It’s thoughtful, funny, challenging, sad, and philosophical. When Junior is the only Indian kid in his otherwise white high school, he faces discrimination, self-doubt, and the rage of his old friends. The familiar story of acceptance, of winning approval from the mainstream crowd, is blessedly secondary to the deep questioning of what it is to grow up and be human. This novel reminds me how important it is to...[read on]
About The Rule of Mirrors, from the publisher:
The fast-paced, psychologically thrilling sequel to The Vault of Dreamers follows Rosie after her consciousness has been split in two.

The entire country was watching when Rosie Sinclair was expelled from Forge, the prestigious arts school that doubles as a reality TV show. But few know how Dean Berg was mining students' dreams in laboratories deep below the school. And no one, least of all the Dean himself, knows that when Rosie's dreams were seeded into the mind of another patient, Rosie's consciousness woke up in that body--a girl far from Forge, a girl with a completely different life from Rosie, a girl who is pregnant.

Told from alternating points of view between Rosie as she makes sense of her new identity and the shattered subconscious that still exists in her old body, The Rule of Mirrors will keep readers on the edge of their seats and leave them hungry for more.
Learn more about the book and author at Caragh O'Brien's website.

My Book, The Movie: Birthmarked.

Writers Read: Caragh M. O'Brien.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Stephanie Kate Strohm & Lorelei

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Stephanie Kate Strohm & Lorelei Lee Strohm-Lando.

The author, on how Lorelei got her name:
Lorelei was named after Marilyn Monroe’s character in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, a sassy showgirl named Lorelei Lee. When Lorelei was a baby, she had very blonde ears. She also loves to...[read on]
About Stephanie Kate Strohm's The Taming of the Drew, from the publisher:
Cass McKay has been called stubborn, temperamental, difficult, and that word that rhymes with “witch” more times than she cares to count. But that’s all about to pay off. She has finally landed the role she was born to play—Kate, in The Taming of the Shrew—in the summer apprentice program of a renowned Shakespeare theater company in the forests of Vermont.

But Cass can barely lace up her corset before her troubles begin. Her leading man, Drew, is a complete troll, and he’s going to ruin Cass’s summer. Even worse, Cass’s bunkmate Amy has somehow fallen head over heels for Drew. Cass can’t let Amy throw herself at a total jerk, so she comes up with a genius plan to give Drew the personality makeover he so desperately needs: they’ll tame Drew just as Petruchio tames Kate! But as Shakespeare’s classic plays out offstage, Cass finds it harder and harder to resist falling for Drew herself.

The best kind of entertainment, The Taming of the Drew is smart, funny, fresh, and original. You’re going to love this badass heroine and her friends. You might even end up liking Drew, too.
Visit Stephanie Kate Strohm's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Taming of the Drew.

My Book, The Movie: The Taming of the Drew.

Writers Read: Stephanie Kate Strohm.

Coffee with a Canine: Stephanie Kate Strohm & Lorelei Lee Strohm-Lando.

--Marshal Zeringue

Laura Williams McCaffrey's "Marked," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Marked by Laura Williams McCaffrey.

The entry begins:
I actually have been asked the question of casting the story before, and I have trouble answering. I suspect this is partially because many movies made from books for children and teens aren't all that good. The ones I like best tend to be odd. A favorite of mine actually is Coraline, which I think has a very cool aesthetic, but I can see how others find it strange. Another of my recent favorite fantasy movies is Mirrormask, which is an odd little Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean project. I guess this is what comes of growing up on The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and Edward Scissorhands.

Maybe what I’m saying is I’d love something outside-the-box?

When pushed to do a little casting, I find myself looking for actors, in the case of the teens, who have emotional range as well as the ability to perform in the action adventure genre. Marked has action, but its heart is the emotional relationships. With these considerations, I think Amandla Stenberg would make a great Lyla, as would...[read on]
Visit Laura Williams McCaffrey's website.

The Page 69 Test: Marked.

Writers Read: Laura Williams McCaffrey.

My Book, The Movie: Marked.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pg. 99: Kevin J. McNamara's "Dreams of a Great Small Nation"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Dreams of a Great Small Nation: The Mutinous Army that Threatened a Revolution, Destroyed an Empire, Founded a Republic, and Remade the Map of Europe by Kevin J. McNamara.

About the book, from the publisher:
“The pages of history recall scarcely any parallel episode at once so romantic in character and so extensive in scale.” —Winston S. Churchill

In 1917, two empires that had dominated much of Europe and Asia teetered on the edge of the abyss, exhausted by the ruinous cost in blood and treasure of the First World War. As Imperial Russia and Habsburg-ruled Austria-Hungary began to succumb, a small group of Czech and Slovak combat veterans stranded in Siberia saw an opportunity to realize their long-held dream of independence.

While their plan was audacious and complex, and involved moving their 50,000-strong army by land and sea across three-quarters of the earth’s expanse, their commitment to fight for the Allies on the Western Front riveted the attention of Allied London, Paris, and Washington.

On their journey across Siberia, a brawl erupted at a remote Trans-Siberian rail station that sparked a wholesale rebellion. The marauding Czecho-Slovak Legion seized control of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, and with it Siberia. In the end, this small band of POWs and deserters, whose strength was seen by Leon Trotsky as the chief threat to Soviet rule, helped destroy the Austro-Hungarian Empire and found Czecho-Slovakia.

British prime minister David Lloyd George called their adventure “one of the greatest epics of history,” and former US president Teddy Roosevelt declared that their accomplishments were “unparalleled, so far as I know, in ancient or modern warfare.”
Visit Kevin J. McNamara's website.

The Page 99 Test: Dreams of a Great Small Nation.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is William Carlsen reading?

Featured at Writers Read: William Carlsen, author of Jungle of Stone: The True Story of Two Men, Their Extraordinary Journey, and the Discovery of the Lost Civilization of the Maya.

His entry begins:
At the moment I'm reading a just-published book called the At the Existential Cafe, by Sarah Bakewell, because from my high school days, I have been utterly fascinated by Sartre, Beauvoir and Camus, and have read many of their works but have never quite grasped their philosophical ideas fully. This book...[read on]
About Jungle of Stone, from the publisher:
In 1839, rumors of extraordinary yet baffling stone ruins buried within the unmapped jungles of Central America reached two of the world’s most intrepid travelers. Seized by the reports, American diplomat John Lloyd Stephens and British artist Frederick Catherwood—both already celebrated for their adventures in Egypt, the Holy Land, Greece, and Rome—sailed together out of New York Harbor on an expedition into the forbidding rainforests of present-day Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. What they found would upend the West’s understanding of human history.

In the tradition of Lost City of Z and In the Kingdom of Ice, former San Francisco Chronicle journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist William Carlsen reveals the remarkable story of the discovery of the ancient Maya. Enduring disease, war, and the torments of nature and terrain, Stephens and Catherwood meticulously uncovered and documented the remains of an astonishing civilization that had flourished in the Americas at the same time as classic Greece and Rome—and had been its rival in art, architecture, and power. Their masterful book about the experience, written by Stephens and illustrated by Catherwood, became a sensation, hailed by Edgar Allan Poe as “perhaps the most interesting book of travel ever published” and recognized today as the birth of American archaeology. Most important, Stephens and Catherwood were the first to grasp the significance of the Maya remains, understanding that their antiquity and sophistication overturned the West’s assumptions about the development of civilization.

By the time of the flowering of classical Greece (400 b.c.), the Maya were already constructing pyramids and temples around central plazas. Within a few hundred years the structures took on a monumental scale that required millions of man-hours of labor, and technical and organizational expertise. Over the next millennium, dozens of city-states evolved, each governed by powerful lords, some with populations larger than any city in Europe at the time, and connected by road-like causeways of crushed stone. The Maya developed a cohesive, unified cosmology, an array of common gods, a creation story, and a shared artistic and architectural vision. They created stucco and stone monuments and bas reliefs, sculpting figures and hieroglyphs with refined artistic skill. At their peak, an estimated ten million people occupied the Maya’s heartland on the Yucatan Peninsula, a region where only half a million now live. And yet by the time the Spanish reached the “New World,” the Maya had all but disappeared; they would remain a mystery for the next three hundred years.

Today, the tables are turned: the Maya are justly famous, if sometimes misunderstood, while Stephens and Catherwood have been nearly forgotten. Based on Carlsen’s rigorous research and his own 2,500-mile journey throughout the Yucatan and Central America, Jungle of Stone is equally a thrilling adventure narrative and a revelatory work of history that corrects our understanding of Stephens, Catherwood, and the Maya themselves.
Visit William Carlsen's website.

Writers Read: William Carlsen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top SF novels with serious science

Sylvain Neuvel's new novel is Sleeping Giants. One of his top ten speculative fiction novels with serious science, as shared at the B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
The Flicker Men, by Ted Kosmatka

I think this is the perfect use of science in fiction. Take a well-known physics experiment and add one tiny little twist – a simple question, really. Sick and twisted, but so beautifully simple. About a hundred pages in, I was cursing the author for messing with my mind. This book is evil. Best thing I’ve read in a while.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Flicker Men is among David Walton's top five "books [that] take their audacious premises seriously, and bit by bit, explore the consequences to the characters and to humanity at large."

The Page 69 Test: The Flicker Men.

My Book, The Movie: The Flicker Men.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Siobhan Vivian's "The Last Boy and Girl in the World"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the critically acclaimed author of The List comes a stunning new novel about a girl who must say goodbye to everything she knows after a storm wreaks havoc on her hometown.

What if your town was sliding underwater and everyone was ordered to pack up and leave? How would you and your friends spend your last days together?

While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together.

And for Keeley, that means taking one last shot at the boy she’s loved forever.

There’s a weird sort of bravery that comes from knowing there’s nothing left to lose. You might do things you normally wouldn’t. Or say things you shouldn’t. The reward almost always outweighs the risk.

Almost.

It’s the end of Aberdeen, but the beginning of Keeley’s first love story. It just might not turn out the way she thought. Because it’s not always clear what’s worth fighting for and what you should let become a memory.
Visit Siobhan Vivian's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Boy and Girl in the World.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Frans de Waal's 6 favorite books

Biologist and primatologist Frans de Waal's latest book is Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf

I knew Alexander von Humboldt's name before I opened this book, but not his story. I read with amazement and fascination of his travels to all corners of the world to discover how all of nature is interconnected. It made me feel lazy. His political views make him a modern thinker, and this book especially illuminates how his science forever changed our worldview. This is science writing at its best.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Con Lehane reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Con Lehane, author of Murder at the 42nd Street Library.

His entry begins:
At the moment, I’m reading Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald by Suzanne Marrs and Tom Nolan. Suzanne Marrs is a biographer of Eudora Welty and Tom Nolan a biographer of Ross MacDonald, whose actual name was Kenneth Millar (pronounced Miller). I come to this book by way of Tom Nolan’s biography. Ross Macdonald was a major influence on me as a writer. He was a man with a great deal of tragedy in his life, from which he developed a tremendous sympathy for his fellow suffering humans. I was mostly interested in the letters as a love story that...[read on]
About Murder at the 42nd Street Library, from the publisher:
Murder at the 42nd Street Library opens with a murder in a second floor office of the iconic, beaux-arts flagship of the New York Public Library. Ray Ambler, the curator of the library's crime fiction collection, joins forces with NYPD homicide detective Mike Cosgrove in hopes of bringing a murderer to justice.

In his search for the reasons behind the murder, Ambler uncovers hidden--and profoundly disturbing--relationships between visitors to the library. These include a celebrated mystery writer who has donated his papers to the library's crime fiction collection, that writer's missing daughter, a New York society woman with a hidden past, and one of Ambler's colleagues at the world-famous library. Those shocking revelations lead inexorably to the tragic and violent events that follow.
Visit Con Lehane's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Con Lehane & Lola.

The Page 69 Test: Murder at the 42nd Street Library.

Writers Read: Con Lehane.

--Marshal Zeringue

Brendan Jones's "The Alaskan Laundry," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Alaskan Laundry by Brendan Jones.

The entry begins:
When Winter’s Bone came out in 2010 I was prepared to be disappointed, as so often happens with books you love. But then there was Jennifer Lawrence, red-nosed beneath her blue-knit skull cap, oily blond hair framing her face. A far cry from my dark curly-haired Italian-American protagonist Tara Marconi in The Alaskan Laundry—but still, there was a quiet, frustrated grittiness and pluck in Lawrence’s performance I loved. Watching, I knew she’d be great as Tara, and imagined Lawrence getting hold of the screenplay, saying Yes, yes, of course. I could see her standing up to...[read on]
Visit Brendan Jones's website.

Writers Read: Brendan Jones.

My Book, The Movie: The Alaskan Laundry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Marcela Iacub's "Through the Keyhole"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Through the Keyhole: A history of sex, space and public modesty in modern France by Marcela Iacub, translated by Vinay Swamy.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1857, a group of young people who had participated in an orgy in a private mansion were sentenced for contempt of public decency (outrage public à la pudeur) because a voyeur was able to watch them through a keyhole. For Marcela Iacub, the crux of such cases hinges on where the public ends and the private begins, and what one can reveal, and what one ought to hide.

Today, the pudeur has disappeared from the French penal code to be replaced by Sex. But, far from being an epic story of hard-won freedom, Iacub demonstrates that the transformation techniques used by the State in the last two centuries have rendered sexuality into a spectacle and have conditioned our spaces, our clothes, our comportment and even some of our mental illnesses. In so doing, Iacub offers us a politico-legal history of the gaze.
Learn more about Through the Keyhole at the Manchester University Press website.

Marcela Iacub is a Jurist and Researcher at Centre de Recherches Historiques.

Vinay Swamy is Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Vassar College.

The Page 99 Test: Through the Keyhole.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ten top guardian angels in children’s books

At the Guardian, writer Andrew Norriss tagged ten favorite characters who offer a helping hand to their heroes, including:
Right Ho, Jeeves! by PG Wodehouse

One of the joys of reading the Jeeves and Wooster stories, is that whatever terrible mess Bertie Wooster might have landed in, you know that his butler, Jeeves, will, without any apparent effort, quietly sort the whole thing out before the end of the story. It’s that trust - that all will, in the end, be well - that makes stories with guardian angels such a comforting read.
Read about another entry on the list.

Right Ho, Jeeves is among six books that made a difference to Kazuo Ishiguro and John Mullan's top ten disastrous performances in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Brendan Jones reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Brendan Jones, author of The Alaskan Laundry.

His entry begins:
I have a habit of bouncing around books, especially while working during the day. Stuck here in this boatyard in Wrangell, Alaska, steaming planks of sapele during the day, spinning oakum over a knee in the evenings after a shower at the Hungry Beaver bar down the way, book propped open by a beer. I’ve been enjoying the weird, formal, medieval voice of Walter Thirsk in Jim Crace in Harvest. I was first introduced to Crace’s weirdness by Ottessa Mosfegh at Stanford, when she brought in Being Dead to workshop. I love the clash between eras, these shifts; and while I don’t find the plot engaging as such, I do find myself, while in this ghostly boatyard awash in sodium lights, without water on the boat, drawn to Thirsk, and even comforted by him, as he tells his story of...[read on]
About The Alaskan Laundry, from the publisher:
In waters as far and icy as the Bering Sea, a fierce, lost young woman finds herself through the hard work of fishing and the stubborn love of real friendship.

Tara Marconi has made her way from Philly to “the Rock,” a remote island in Alaska governed by the seasons. Her mother’s death left her unmoored, with a seemingly impassable rift between her and her father. But in this majestic, rugged frontier she works her way up the commercial fishing ladder—from hatchery assistant all the way to king crabber. Disciplined from years as a young boxer, she learns anew what it means to work, to connect, and—through an unlikely old tugboat — how to make a home she knows is her own.

A testament to the places that shape us and the places that change us, The Alaskan Laundry tells one woman’s unforgettable journey back to the possibility of love.
Visit Brendan Jones's website.

Writers Read: Brendan Jones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Paula Treick DeBoard & Baxter

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Paula Treick DeBoard & Baxter.

The author, on how she and Baxter were united:
Baxter was a gift from my in-laws, who had been listening to me talk about getting a dog for years. My sister-in-law had a friend with two beagles and a litter on the way, and I was promised my pick. I got to see them when they were just a few days old and a squirming mess of adorable puppiness, but I spotted the one for me immediately. The owners said I could come back to visit any time, but they seemed a bit surprised to see me take them up on that offer—I went back at least once a week to take pictures for six weeks. It was amazing to...[read on]
About The Drowning Girls, from the publisher:
Critically acclaimed author of The Mourning Hours and The Fragile World, Paula Treick DeBoard returns with a tale of dark secrets, shocking lies and a dangerous obsession that will change one neighborhood forever

Liz McGinnis never imagined herself living in a luxurious gated community like The Palms. Ever since she and her family moved in, she's felt like an outsider amongst the Stepford-like wives and their obnoxiously spoiled children. Still, she's determined to make it work—if not for herself, then for her husband, Phil, who landed them this lavish home in the first place, and for her daughter, Danielle, who's about to enter high school.

Yet underneath the glossy veneer of The Palms, life is far from idyllic. In a place where reputation is everything, Liz soon discovers that even the friendliest residents can't be trusted. So when the gorgeous girl next door befriends Danielle, Liz can't help but find sophisticated Kelsey's interest in her shy and slightly nerdy daughter a bit suspicious.

But while Kelsey quickly becomes a fixture in the McGinnis home, Liz's relationships with both Danielle and Phil grow strained. Now even her own family seems to be hiding things, and it's not long before their dream of living the high life quickly spirals out of control…
Visit Paula Treick DeBoard's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Paula Treick DeBoard & Baxter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Con Lehane's "Murder at the 42nd Street Library"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Murder at the 42nd Street Library by Con Lehane.

About the book, from the publisher:
Murder at the 42nd Street Library opens with a murder in a second floor office of the iconic, beaux-arts flagship of the New York Public Library. Ray Ambler, the curator of the library's crime fiction collection, joins forces with NYPD homicide detective Mike Cosgrove in hopes of bringing a murderer to justice.

In his search for the reasons behind the murder, Ambler uncovers hidden--and profoundly disturbing--relationships between visitors to the library. These include a celebrated mystery writer who has donated his papers to the library's crime fiction collection, that writer's missing daughter, a New York society woman with a hidden past, and one of Ambler's colleagues at the world-famous library. Those shocking revelations lead inexorably to the tragic and violent events that follow.
Visit Con Lehane's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Con Lehane & Lola.

The Page 69 Test: Murder at the 42nd Street Library.

--Marshal Zeringue