Friday, February 29, 2008

The Rap Sheet's "Crime Writers to Read Before You Die"

Britain's Daily Telegraph recently attempted to create a list of “Fifty Crime Writers to Read Before You Die.” Inevitably, not everyone was in agreement with the tally.

The incomparable crime site The Rap Sheet now wants to improve that list -- or generate another which addresses some shortcomings of the Telegraph's list.

The Rap Sheet editor J. Kingston Pierce writes:
How could the Telegraph folks have failed to mention Ross Macdonald and Rex Stout, for instance? Or how about James M. Cain, Ross Thomas, Laura Lippman, John Harvey, James Crumley, Val McDermid, Ellery Queen, Ian Rankin, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, Ken Bruen, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Martin Cruz Smith?

But hey, we’re not here to complain. We’re here to help ... and maybe enlighten and entertain as we go along.

Ever since that Telegraph article appeared, we have been thinking that it wouldn’t be a half-bad idea to come up with a must-read list of our own. We won’t limit it falsely to 50 books and authors, but will feature as many names as seems appropriate. However, we will restrict this list to one book per author, so it looks like we’ll finally have to answer the question, “Is Chandler’s The Long Goodbye really better than his Farewell, My Lovely?

In this venture, we are asking for your assistance. What do you think are the crime, mystery, and thriller novels that every fan ought to read before he or she dies? We’d especially like to hear from the many published crime novelists who read The Rap Sheet. But we are also curious to know what books other readers suggest.
Read the full post for more details, then lend your voice to the enterprise.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Laura Wiess' "Leftovers"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Laura Wiess' Leftovers.

About the book, from the publisher:
A devastating novel of desperation and revenge from one of today's most compelling new voices in fiction. In this follow-up to her heartbreaking debut, Such a Pretty Girl, Laura Wiess once again spins a shattering tale of the tragedies that befall young women who are considered society's Leftovers.

Blair and Ardith are best friends who have committed an unforgivable act in the name of love and justice. But in order to understand what could drive two young women to such extreme measures, first you'll have to understand why. You'll have to listen as they describe parents who are alternately absent and smothering, classmates who mock and shun anyone different, and young men who are allowed to hurt and dominate without consequence. You will have to learn what it's like to be a teenage girl who locks her bedroom door at night, who has been written off by the adults around her as damaged goods. A girl who has no one to trust except the one person she's forbidden to see. You'll have to understand what it's really like to be forgotten and abandoned in America today.

Are you ready?

Among the early praise for Leftovers:
"Like her equally gripping debut (Such a Pretty Girl), Wiess's suspense story delivers an outsize jolt of adrenaline. …the final moments of the book unfold with a bang and a twist… Wiess's clear insight into the evolution of victim into perpetrator and her layered storytelling bump up the subject to a much more challenging playing field."
--Publishers Weekly

"The climax is explosive, but it's the feisty heroines who will resonate more. Gritty drama from Wiess (Such a Pretty Girl, 2007) that will get teens and parents talking."

"Reading Blair and Ardith's story is like scratching a mosquito bite, you can't stop scratching until it bleeds. And as much as it hurts, you won't be able to put Leftovers down until you finish it."
--Lyn Seippel,

“A riveting story about how far girls will go to protect that which is good and decent in their lives. A bracing, unapologetic, and thoroughly compelling read. I love this book.”
--Laura Fitzgerald, author of Veil of Roses
Learn more about the book and author at Laura Wiess' website, her LiveJournal, MySpace page, Amazon blog, and the "Welcome to the Asylum" blog.

The Page 69 Test: Such a Pretty Girl.

My Book, The Movie: Such a Pretty Girl.

The Page 69 Test: Leftovers.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Benjamin Wallace reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Benjamin Wallace, author of the forthcoming The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine.

His entry opens:
I'm currently bouncing between two books. Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club constantly amazes me by introducing me to nineteenth-century figures, such as Louis Agassiz, who loomed huge in their day -- and are unknown now, because they were colossally wrong (anti-evolution, pro-phrenology, etc.). Marc Norman's What Happens Next: A History of American Screenwriting tells the story of Hollywood from what I would call a worm's-eye view, except that such a lowly description would confirm the very prejudice toward screenwriters -- those schmucks with MacBooks -- that this book nobly aims to explode. [read on]
Benjamin Wallace has written for GQ, Details, Food & Wine, Salon, and the Washington Post. From 1990 to 1992, he lived in the Czech Republic and Hungary, teaching English, proofreading diplomatic documents at the Czechoslovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and writing for such newspapers as The Prague Post, The Budapest Post, and The European. From 1993 to 1995, he worked as a reporter for obscure trade publications in Manhattan, including a magazine about magazines and a mergers-and-acquisitions newsletter called Corporate Control Alert, which was regularly mistaken for either an industrial-security journal or a bondage & discipline periodical.

Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman and A Crack in the Edge of the World, writes of Wallace's forthcoming The Billionaire’s Vinegar:
“It is the fine details — the bouquet, the body, the notes, the finish – that make this book such a lasting pleasure, to be savored and remembered long after the last page is turned. Ben Wallace has told a splendid story just wonderfully, his touch light and deft, his instinct pitch-perfect. Of all the marvelous legends of the wine trade, this curiously unforgettable saga most amply deserves the appellation: a classic.”
Writers Read: Benjamin Wallace.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tim Harford: top 10 undercover economics books

Here is the Guardian editor's introduction to "Tim Harford's top 10 undercover economics books" list, followed by Harford's account of Number Two on the list:
Tim Harford's new book, The Logic of Life: Uncovering the new economics of everything, argues that the most unexpected people - oversexed teenagers, Las Vegas slot addicts, juvenile delinquents and even your boss - are rational, unconsciously weighing up risks and rewards and complying with economic logic. The author of The Undercover Economist, Harford is fond of unearthing economics in unexpected places, and here he roots it out in 10 unexpected books.

2. Micromotives and Macrobehavior by Thomas Schelling

Thomas Schelling is a hero of mine and repeatedly appears in The Logic of Life. A cold war strategist, he advised John F Kennedy during the Berlin crisis before later falling out with Henry Kissinger. He also helped Stanley Kubrick develop the twisted disaster scenario of Dr Strangelove. When Jimmy Carter was president, he turned to Schelling for help in thinking about climate change. If that wasn't enough, he wrote Micromotives and Macrobehavior, a beautiful collection of essays showing how complex and unwelcome results can evolve from the interactions between agents with simple motives - whether drivers, members of a crowd, or people sending Christmas cards. Where's the economics? It's in there somewhere, and was enough to win Schelling the Nobel memorial prize in economics in 2005.
See which book topped Harford's list.

Read excerpts from The Logic of Life, and learn more about the author and his work at Tim Harford's website and his blog.

Watch a brief video of Harford talking about The Logic of Life.

Tim Harford v. Stephen Colbert caged death-match: two men enter, one man leaves.

The Page 69 Test: The Undercover Economist.

The Page 69 Test:The Logic of Life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Joel Waldfogel's "The Tyranny of the Market"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Joel Waldfogel's The Tyranny of the Market: Why You Can't Always Get What You Want.

About the book, from the publisher:
Economists have long counseled reliance on markets rather than on government to decide a wide range of questions, in part because allocation through voting can give rise to a "tyranny of the majority." Markets, by contrast, are believed to make products available to suit any individual, regardless of what others want. But the argument is not generally correct. In markets, you can't always get what you want. This book explores why this is so and its consequences for consumers with atypical preferences.

When fixed costs are substantial, markets provide only products desired by large concentrations of people. As a result, people are better off in their capacity as consumers when more fellow consumers share their product preferences. Small groups of consumers with less prevalent tastes, such as blacks, Hispanics, people with rare diseases, and people living in remote areas, find less satisfaction in markets. In some cases, an actual tyranny of the majority occurs in product markets. A single product can suit one group or another. If one group is larger, the product is targeted to the larger group, making them better off and others worse off.

The book illustrates these phenomena with evidence from a variety of industries such as restaurants, air travel, pharmaceuticals, and the media, including radio broadcasting, newspapers, television, bookstores, libraries, and the Internet.
Among the praise for The Tyranny of the Market:
"Joel Waldfogel takes up the mythology of the market responding to our wants and desires, and shows how it often leaves out many people who are unable to get very much of what they want...This book could be very persuasive to those who will not listen to voices that have an explicitly progressive agenda."

"This is a book for all the people out there who sit down and flip through hundreds of channels but never seem to find something they like. In it Joel Waldfogel, one of America's most interesting economists, shows exactly how many people in the marketplace end up stranded, unable to get what they want. It's a provocative statement on why free markets don't necessarily make everyone better off."
--Austan Goolsbee, The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business

"The Tyranny of the Market conveys an exciting debate focusing on whether 'the market gets it right,' allowing each type of consumer to achieve his own goals through participating in markets. An important book."
--Matthew Kahn, University of California, Los Angeles

"The Tyranny of the Market presents a fascinating account of why the market fails to satisfy preference minorities."
--Fiona Scott Morton, Yale School of Management
Get a taste of Waldfogel's argument in this article he wrote for Slate.

Read an excerpt from The Tyranny of the Market and learn more about the book at the Harvard University Press website.

Visit Joel Waldfogel's personal website and his faculty webpage.

Joel Waldfogel is Chair and Ehrenkranz Family Professor of Business and Public Policy at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The Page 99 Test: The Tyranny of the Market.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pg. 69: Bill Crider's "Of All Sad Words"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Bill Crider's Of All Sad Words.

About the book, from the publisher:

Strangers are moving into Blacklin County, and none of them is any stranger than Seepy Benton, a math teacher whom the county judge suspects is a wild-eyed radical. Benton and Max Schwartz, who has opened a music store, are among the students in the Citizens’ Sheriff’s Academy, which seemed like a good idea when Sheriff Dan Rhodes presented it to the county commissioners. However, when a mobile home explodes and a dead body is found, the students become the chief suspects, and the commissioners aren’t happy. To make matters worse, there’s another murder, and one of Rhodes’s old antagonists returns with his partner in crime to cause even more trouble.

As always in Blacklin County, there are plenty of minor annoyances to go along with the major ones. For one thing, there’s a problem with the county’s Web page. The commissioners blame Rhodes, who knows nothing about the Internet but is supposed to be overseeing their online presence. Then there’s the illegal alcohol being sold in a local restaurant. It was produced in a still that Rhodes discovered after the explosion of the mobile home, and he’s sure it has some connection to the murders.

It’s another fun ride with genre veteran Bill Crider, and, once again, it’s up to Sheriff Dan Rhodes to save the day before Blacklin County becomes the crime capital of Texas.

Among the early praise for Of All Sad Words:
"Crider's winning 15th Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery (after 2007's Murder Among the OWLS) pits the wry Texan against a local drug ring. Skeptical when Clearview, Tex., newcomer C.P. Benton complains that his neighbors, the Crawford brothers, are cooking meth, Rhodes finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation when the Crawford trailer explodes, leaving one of the brothers dead. But instead of finding evidence of meth, Rhodes stumbles on a still with a fresh batch of old-fashioned hooch. The remaining Crawford brother plays dumb, blaming his sibling for the illegal operation, but Rhodes doesn't buy the act. The discovery of a second still complicates matters, and Rhodes must ignore his bickering deputies and a whiny county commissioner to get to the bottom of Clearview's crime wave. Crider expertly evokes this small Texas town and its eccentric cast of characters, and his dry humor will satisfy longtime fans of this popular series."
--Publishers Weekly

"Crider delivers his usual meticulously interwoven plot threads colored by Rhodes' dry humor. An excellent entry in a very fine series."

"Sheriff Dan Rhodes must cope with bootlegging, murder and a dazzling fictional alter ego. Something rare, something phenomenal, is about to happen in backwater Blacklin County, Texas: a book signing. Claudia and Jan, those writing ladies from out of town, have performed as promised, and the result is now between lurid hard covers. Blood Fever stars "a handsome, crime-busting sheriff" named Sage Barton, modeled, the authors say, on handsome, crime-busting Sheriff Dan Rhodes. He's embarrassed, of course, but a touch of celebrity can be heady as well as irritating. So he agrees to make an appearance at the event, autograph pen in hand. Meanwhile, there are more workaday matters requiring his attention. Someone has pumped two bullets into Terry Crawford just before blowing up his mobile home, leaving Larry Crawford minus a twin and a roof over his head. Why does the surviving twin seem less stricken than he should be? Following the whisky fumes and the money, Sheriff Dan finds a passel of crimes, busts the perpetrators and thumbs his nose at invidious comparisons. Shrewd, low-key Sheriff Dan (Murder Among the O.W.L.S., 2007, etc.) remains an engaging lawman who runs his tiny department with all the professionalism of the 87th Precinct."
Learn more about the author and his work at Crider's website and his blog.

Read the Page 69 Test entries for Crider's A Mammoth Murder and Murder Among the OWLS as well as an excellent write-up about Dan Rhodes on the big screen at "My Book, The Movie."

The Page 69 Test: Of All Sad Words.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Sandra Beasley reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Sandra Beasley, poet and editor.

One book she tagged:
The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food, by Jennifer 8. Lee (Twelve Books) - I'm always working my way through an "oatmeal book," usually non-fiction, that I read while stirring my steel-cut oatmeal each morning for the 20 minutes it takes to cook. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles follows Lee as she tracks down the origins of many flagship Chinese food dishes -- fortune cookies, chop suey, General Tso's chicken -- zeroing in on the ways in which Chinese immigrant culture has commercialized (and often corrupted) itself to engage American tastes. The tone is witty, the writing well-paced, and Lee is confident in her evocations of old New York and mainland China, where many of the stories -- often spanning generations of family, multiple ethnic cultures, and various lawsuits -- take place. This book is a perfect follow-up for those who enjoyed Trevor Corson's The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi, from Samurai to Supermarket, which came out last year. Did you know that some of the most valuable black market exports from the U.S to Japan are chicken feet, pig ears, and cow stomachs? One culture's trash is another's treasure. [read on]
Sandra Beasley works on the editorial staff of The American Scholar.

Her poems can be found in recent issues of journals such as 32 Poems, Slate, RHINO, Blackbird, New Orleans Review, Poet Lore, and Meridian. Her work has been featured on Verse Daily and appears in the 2005 Best New Poets anthology and the Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel (Second Story); work is forthcoming in the Outside Voices 2008 Anthology and Online Writing: The Best of the Frist Ten Years (Snow*Vigate Press). Her full-length manuscript, Theories of Falling, received the 2007 New Issues Poetry Prize, selected by Marie Howe, and will be published in March 2008.

Learn more about Beasley and her work at her website and her blog, Chicks Dig Poetry.

Writers Read: Sandra Beasley.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Most important books: Diane Ackerman

Diane Ackerman's latest book is The Zookeeper’s Wife, the true story of a zookeeper who hid 300 Jews from the Nazis.

She recently told Newsweek about her five most important books. And addressed two related issues:
A book that you always return to:

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda. Romantic sambas, magical imagery, it's perfect to share with a sweetheart.

A book you hope parents read to their children:

Randall Jarrell's The Bat-Poet. It will flutter into a child's heart.
Read more about Diane Ackerman's most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: John Lescroart's "Betrayal"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: John Lescroart's Betrayal.

About the book, from the publisher:
New York Times bestseller John Lescroart returns with an ambitious, torn-from- today’s-headlines thriller featuring his trademark blend of real people and real suspense.

John Lescroart’s millions of fans have been waiting three years for the return of San Francisco defense attorney Dismas Hardy and his buddy, detective Abe Glitsky—and in that time John Lescroart’s popularity has continued to soar. Now, Hardy and Glitsky reunite in a story filled with the big themes that are worthy of them—the intersection of love, betrayal, and a desperate search for the truth in a critical matter of national security.

When Dismas Hardy agrees to clean up the caseload of recently disappeared attorney Charlie Bowen, he thinks it will be easy. But one of the cases is far from small-time—the sensational clash between National Guard reservist Evan Scholler and an ex-Navy SEAL and private contractor named Ron Nolan. Two rapid-fire events in Iraq conspired to bring the men into fatal conflict: Nolan’s relationship with Evan’s girlfriend, Tara, a beautiful school-teacher back home in the states, followed by a deadly incident in which Nolan’s apparent mistake results in the death of an innocent Iraqi family as well as seven men in Evan’s platoon. As the murky relationship between the US government and its private contractors plays out in the personal drama of these two men, and the consequences become a desperate matter of life and death, Dismas Hardy begins to uncover a terrible and perilous truth that takes him far beyond the case and into the realm of assassination and treason.

From the treacherous streets of Iraq to the courtrooms of California, Betrayal is not only John Lescroart’s most ambitious and provocative novel, it is a magnificent tour de force of pure storytelling.
Among the early praise for Betrayal:
"At the start of the adrenaline-infused 12th thriller to feature DA Dismas Hardy (Dead Irish, etc.) from bestseller Lescroart, Hardy agrees to wrap up some of the caseload of a Bay Area lawyer who has mysteriously disappeared. After discovering that the lawyer was set to appeal an apparently straightforward murder case, Hardy realizes that the crime had its origins in Iraq, where the alleged killer and his victim first met. With the help of his old friend, Det. Abe Glitsky, Hardy learns that the victim, ex-navy SEAL Ron Nolan, was sleeping with the girlfriend of National Guard Reservist Evan Scholler, who was later convicted of killing Nolan. As Hardy and Glitsky dig deeper, they discover that Nolan had committed several murders himself, and it's up to Dismas and Hardy to unravel the conspiracy that may have roots in the U.S. government. Lescroart weaves his trademark complicated yet fast-moving tale, full of believable characters and crisp dialogue. A first-rate addition to the author's ongoing series, this should please both longtime readers and new fans."
--Publishers Weekly

"Lescroart keeps the action moving. Lescroart's depiction of the measured cynicism of what America is doing in Iraq is ... compelling.... extremely satisfying."
--Amanda Scott, Library Journal
Read an excerpt from Betrayal, and learn more about the book and its author at John Lescroart's website.

John Lescroart is the bestselling author of the "Dismas Hardy" thrillers and other works.

The Page 99 Test: John Lescroart's Betrayal.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 25, 2008

Pg. 69: Thomas Cobb's "Shavetail"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Thomas Cobb's Shavetail.

About the book, from the publisher:
Set in 1871 in the unforgiving wasteland of the Arizona Territory, Shavetail is the story of Private Ned Thorne, a seventeen-year-old boy from Connecticut who has lied about his age to join the Army. On the run from a shameful past, Ned is desperate to prove his worth -- to his superiors, to his family, and most of all, to himself. Young and troubled, Ned is as green and stubborn as a "shavetail," the soldiers' term for a dangerous, untrained mule.

To endure in this world, Ned must not only follow the orders of the camp's captain, Robert Franklin,but also submit to the cruel manipulations of Obediah Brickner, the camp's mule driver. Both Franklin and Brickner have been damaged by their long military service, both consider themselves able to survive the dangers of the desert -- floods, scorpions, snakes, and Indians -- and both imperil Ned.

Yet there are other characters, all richly drawn, who also confront Ned: half-wit soldiers, embattled Indians hidden in cliffs, a devious and philosophical peddler, and the fleshy whores who materialize in the desert as soon as the paymaster has left camp and dance with drunken soldiers around a fire late into the night.

After a band of Apaches attack a nearby ranch, killing two men and kidnapping a young woman, Ned's lieutenant -- a man seeking atonement for his own mistakes -- leads Ned and the rest of his patrol on a near-suicidal mission through rugged mountains and into Mexico in hopes of saving the woman's life. It is unlikely any can survive this folly, and those who do will be changed forever.

Meticulously researched and vividly told, Shavetail renders a time when the United States was still an expanding empire, its western edge bloody with the deaths of soldiers, settlers, and Indians. In language both spare and brilliant, Cobb brings readers this lost American landscape, untouched by highways or electricity and without the comforts of civilization.

Shavetail also marks the return of a great American literary voice. Cobb's first and only other novel, Crazy Heart, was published in 1987 to great acclaim and was edited by the legendary editor Ted Solotaroff. Cobb is also a former student of Donald Barthelme, who described Crazy Heart as "a bitter, witty psychological profile of genius."

Brutal and deft, laced with both violence and desire, Shavetail plunges into the deepest human urges even as it marks the ground where men either survive or perish.
Among the early praise for Shavetail:
"The education to which Thomas Cobb's eager young soldier is forced to submit combines such wisdom, pain, suspense, and nasty good humor that I simply couldn't read this book fast enough. Of course I didn't know what a 'shavetail' was when I began, but learning that was only part of the education I was treated to. Guilt and innocence, blood and tenderness -- I can't imagine any reader who could resist."
-- Rosellen Brown, author of Civil Wars

"Shavetail is the story of the futility of war and is as immediate and brutal as daily news from Iraq or Afghanistan, although the year is 1871 and the place is southern Arizona and northern Mexico. Cobb presents the landscape, the characters, and the conflict with absolute authority, producing a magnificent story in the tradition of Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage and Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian."
-- Richard Shelton, author of Going Back to Bisbee

A shavetail is a young mule paired with an older mule to learn its work. Brickner, who is as wise and as contrary as any old mule, dubs 17-year-old Ned Thorne a shavetail and does his best to educate him on how to survive in the U.S. Army in 1871 Arizona. Ned's brutal training includes fighting, drinking, rustling cattle, and mule driving, before concluding when his cavalry chases a band of renegade Apaches into Mexico. When things go wrong, Ned must choose between the commonsense villainy of Brickner or his own conscience. Ostensibly about Ned, Shavetailis actually a thoughtful character study of four redemption-seeking men-Captain Franklin, Lieutenant Austin, Brickner, and Ned-not to mention a fine western. Readers will also find in Cobb's second novel (after Crazy Heart) nicely wrought coming-of-age elements. Highly recommended...."
--Ken. St. Andre, Library Journal
Read an excerpt from Shavetail and learn more about the author and his work at Thomas Cobb's website.

Thomas Cobb is the author of Crazy Heart, a novel, and Acts of Contrition, a collection of short stories that won the 2002 George Garrett Fiction Prize.

The Page 69 Test: Shavetail.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Rachel Zucker reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Rachel Zucker, author of Eating in the Underworld, The Last Clear Narrative, and The Bad Wife Handbook.

Part of her entry:
A few days ago I read my friend, Arielle Greenberg's, new poetry manuscript which was so brilliant and amazing it gave me the worst nightmare I've ever had. Yesterday I read a short chapbook, Dear Professor, Do You Live in a Vacuum? by Nin Andrews published by Subito Press which I loved: it's funny and smart (a kind of less raunchy version of Letters to Wendy's by Joe Wenderoth). I'm in the middle of three other books of poetry: Isa the Truck Named Isadore by Amanda Nadelberg, published by Slope, a deceptively simple book that delights and surprises me on every page; Julianna Baggott's new and wonderfully funny and moving book of poems, Compulsions of Silkworms and Bees, in which poetry is itself a character in the book; and lastly, In the Pines, by Alice Notley, published by Penguin. Notley's book is a more difficult and serious read than Baggott or Nadelberg. On the first page of the book Notley writes, "it is time to change writing completely" and she is doing this — the book is not quite poetry and not quite prose and narrative is fractured by progressed through accretion — and it is thrilling and disturbing and inspiring. [read on]
Zucker is the winner of the Salt Hill Poetry Award (1999, judged by C.D. Wright) and the Barrow Street Poetry Prize (2000). In 2002 she won the Center for Book Arts Award (judged by Lynn Emanuel) for her long poem, "Annunciation" which was published as a limited edition chapbook. Her poems have appeared in many journals including: 3rd Bed, American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Colorado Review, Epoch, Fence, Iowa Review, Pleiades, and Prairie Schooner as well as in the Best American Poetry 2001 anthology.

She is
co-editor of a book of essays, Efforts and Affections: Women Poets on Mentorship, which will be published by University of Iowa Press this Spring.

Visit Rachel Zucker's website.

Writers Read: Rachel Zucker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Erika Schickel's "You’re Not the Boss of Me," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Erika Schickel 's You're Not the Boss of Me: Adventures of a Modern Mom.

Her entry opens:
Well, everyone wants a movie made of his or her life, right? And since my book You’re Not the Boss of Me is a memoir that is literally what it would be. As chance would have it, my book was optioned for a TV series last summer and I had many conversations with my producers about who would play me, so I come to this challenge well armed.

First of all, let it be said that I think I should play me. I was an actress long before I got into the writing racket and I think I would be brilliant in the role of Moi, but of course no one wants to make films starring 43 year-old unknown actresses. So, what-ever, Mary.

My next choice was Laura Linney, because she’s smart and brittle and has that New York/intellectual/WASP thing going and those are my people. Did you see The Squid and the Whale? That was my childhood and Linney was note perfect in that. But producers were cool on her and started trying to sell me on...[read on]
Read more about You're Not the Boss of Me: Adventures of a Modern Mom.

Schickel's essays can be found in several anthologies and online at, and The Huffington Post. She is a regular book critic and op-ed contributor for the Los Angeles Times and also contributes to the LA Weekly, Los Angeles City Beat and the Chicago Tribune.

Visit Erika Schickel's website and her column on

The Page 69 Test: You're Not the Boss of Me.

My Book, The Movie: You're Not the Boss of Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Lauren Groff's "The Monsters of Templeton"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Lauren Groff's The Monsters of Templeton.

About the book, from the publisher:
“The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass.”

So begins The Monsters of Templeton, a novel spanning two centuries: part a contemporary story of a girl’s search for her father, part historical novel, and part ghost story, this spellbinding novel is at its core a tale of how one town holds the secrets of a family.

In the wake of a wildly disastrous affair with her married archaeology professor, Willie Upton arrives on the doorstep of her ancestral home in Templeton, New York, where her hippie-turned-born-again-Baptist mom, Vi, still lives. Willie expects to be able to hide in the place that has been home to her family for generations, but the monster’s death changes the fabric of the quiet, picture-perfect town her ancestors founded. Even further, Willie learns that the story her mother had always told her about her father has all been a lie: he wasn’t the random man from a free-love commune that Vi had led her to imagine, but someone else entirely. Someone from this very town.

As Willie puts her archaeological skills to work digging for the truth about her lineage, she discovers that the secrets of her family run deep. Through letters, editorials, and journal entries, the dead rise up to tell their sides of the story as dark mysteries come to light, past and present blur, old stories are finally put to rest, and the shocking truth about more than one monster is revealed.
Among the praise for The Monsters of Templeton:
Read an excerpt from The Monsters of Templeton and learn more about the book at the official The Monsters of Templeton website.

Visit Lauren Groff's website and her blog.

Lauren Groff 's short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of journals, including The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Hobart, and Five Points as well as in the anthologies Best American Short Stories 2007, Pushcart Prize XXXII, and Best New American Voices 2008.

The Page 99 Test: The Monsters of Templeton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Five best: books that explore human nature

Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, is the author of several books, including How the Mind Works and, most recently, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window Into Human Nature.

For the Wall Street Journal, he tagged a five best list of books that explore human nature.

One title on Pinker's list:
By Napoleon A. Chagnon
Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1968

To understand human nature, first understand the conditions that prevailed during most of human evolution, before the appearance of agriculture, cities and government. "Yanomamö," Napoleon A. Chagnon's summation of his 30 years among the "fierce people" of the Amazon rainforest, is vividly (and often humorously) written and packed with implications for human nature. For one, he rebuts the idea that aboriginal people would live in peace and harmony if just left alone by the modern world; violence, Chagnon shows, is endemic to the Yanomamö. His book is a courageous work, both physically (the Yanomamö nearly killed him) and intellectually (fellow anthropologists wanted to kill him).

Read about another title from the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Annie Finch's "Calendars"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Annie Finch's Calendars.

About the collection, from Publisher Weekly's starred review:
In her third full-length collection, Finch focuses on the cyclical and seasonal, centering on themes of birth, death, family and artistic lineage, sexuality and female spirituality. Following the poems of Eve (1997), the poetics of The Ghost of Meter, and the anthologizing of An Exaltation of Forms (2002) among other books and translation work, Finch here moves through traditional and invented forms, chants and refrains, makes addresses to poets of the past, and at times deploys an exaggerated musicality that is less archaic than rooted in obsessive repetition. In "Paravaledellentine: A Paradelle," for instance, the speaker sings, "Move me the way the seas' warm sea will spend me./ Move me the way the seas' warm sea will; spend me./ Move your sea-warm come to me; will with me; spend/ tender sounds, warning me the way of the seas, the seas." Some of the most compelling poems here explore the interplay of multiple voices; in the title poem, the voices of Demeter, Chorus, Persephone and Hades chant in alternation. Other successful poems move between a voice and an echo-a doubt, a qualification or a redirected train of thought.... Finch almost always draws one in with an unnerving and utterly unexpected phrase or image, as when addressing "The Moon": "Then you are the dense everywhere that moves,/ the dark matter they haven't yet walked through?" Such moments seem to contain the full duration of this book's calendars.
Among the praise for Calendars:
"Annie Finch is a great love poet, and she understands better than any contemporary I know what poetry feels like and sounds like when it is completely at home in its traditions. . . She is a major poet, one of very few who understand how lyric lives in part because it can speak for something larger than the ego."
—Charles Altieri

"The poetry of Annie Finch captivates me. She displays poetic skill as polished as any of the greats. I likewise find her utterly endearing. . Her poetry is an homage to the art."
Michael Parker in MiPoesias

"An oracle, an ecstatic maenad: that is the kind of traditional poet Annie Finch is. . ."
Patricia Monaghan in Web del Sol

" . . . She gets it. Her commitment is to the language . . ."
Ron Silliman, on Silliman's Blog

"Finch's poem speaks to a larger poetic conversation on feminist spirituality and religious revision in the work of Alicia Ostriker, Lucille Clifton, and Eleanor Wilner."
D'Arcy Randall in Blue Mesa Review

"Finch, who has described her work process as including the whispering or muttering, shouting or chanting or singing her words aloud as she writes, has brought that song into the words in a way that we associate with poets of an earlier era, like Tennyson or Kipling. . . "
Tad Richards in Jacket

"Finch has been through the experience of free verse and is trying to redefine "traditional" forms in a way which will allow her to function in what amounts to an unprecedented fashion. . . "
Jack Foley in the Alsop Review

"With paradoxical economy and fine-tuned irony, Annie Finch's poems embody the seductive, treacherous and redemptive nature of language itself. Her poems remind us how the condition of music re-creates the condition of thought."
—Marilyn Hacker

"Sympathies, passions--so often the opposite of actions—are so intensely held, wrung and used, that Annie Finch's poems spread themselves like so much fresh laundry: sweet, abstergent, redressed."
—Richard Howard
Read some poems from Calendars. Learn more about the poet and her work, and read or listen to some of her poems, at Annie Finch's website.

Calendars (Tupelo, 2003) was shortlisted for the Foreword Poetry Book of the Year Award). Annie Finch’s other recent works include a reissue of her early longpoem, The Encyclopedia of Scotland (Salt Press, 2004), and a book of essays on poetry, The Body of Poetry: Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self (University of Michigan Press, 2005). Since 2005 she has served as Director of the Stonecoast graduate creative writing program at the University of Southern Maine.

The Page 69 Test: Calendars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 22, 2008

What is Bruce Barcott reading?

The latest contributor to Writers Read: Bruce Barcott, author of The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw: One Woman's Fight to Save the World's Most Beautiful Bird.

One book tagged in his entry:
Michael Novacek's Terra: Our 100-million-year-old ecosystem -- and the threats that now put it at risk. Novacek is a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History, and he writes about the history of the Earth like Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson speaks about space. Well, okay, maybe not quite as breezy as Tyson -- Novacek bulks up Terra with 65 pages of endnotes -- but this is fantastic scientific history, written with an overriding purpose. To wit: Novacek lays out what we know about the planet's previous five great extinctions, and draws lessons for the sixth, which is the stewpot we currently find ourselves in. [read on]
Among the early praise for The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw:
"Barcott’s compelling narrative is suspenseful right up to the last moment."
–Publisher's Weekly

"An engrossing but sad account of a brave and quirky champion of nature."

“…A riveting account of one woman’s fight to save one of the last bastions of an endangered species... Barcott writes of international politics, ecology and endangered species, and human relations with equal facility. This real page-turner of narrative nonfiction is hard to put down.”
Read an excerpt from The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

Bruce Barcott is also the author of The Measure of a Mountain: Beauty and Terror on Mount Rainier and is a contributing editor at Outside magazine. His feature articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, Sports Illustrated, Harper’s, Utne Reader, and other publications. He contributes reviews to the New York Times Book Review and the public radio show Living on Earth, and is a former Ted Scripps Fellow at the University of Colorado.

Writers Read: Bruce Barcott.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Lee and Bob Woodruff's "In An Instant"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Lee and Bob Woodruff's In an Instant: A Family's Journey of Love and Healing.

About the book, from the publisher:
In one of the most anticipated books of the year, Lee Woodruff, along with her husband, Bob Woodruff, share their never-before-told story of romance, resilience, and survival following the tragedy that transformed their lives and gripped a nation.

In January 2006, the Woodruffs seemed to have it all–a happy marriage and four beautiful children. Lee was a public relations executive and Bob had just been named co-anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight. Then, while Bob was embedded with the military in Iraq, an improvised explosive device went off near the tank he was riding in. He and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, were hit, and Bob suffered a traumatic brain injury that nearly killed him.

In an Instant is the frank and compelling account of how Bob and Lee’s lives came together, were blown apart, and then were miraculously put together again–and how they persevered, with grit but also with humor, through intense trauma and fear. Here are Lee’s heartfelt memories of their courtship, their travels as Bob left a law practice behind and pursued his news career and Lee her freelance business, the glorious births of her children and the challenges of motherhood.

Bob in turn recalls the moment he caught the journalism “bug” while covering Tiananmen Square for CBS News, his love of overseas assignments and his guilt about long separations from his family, and his pride at attaining the brass ring of television news – being chosen to fill the seat of the late Peter Jennings.

And, for the first time, the Woodruffs reveal the agonizing details of Bob’s terrible injuries and his remarkable recovery. We learn that Bob’s return home was not an end to the journey but the first step into a future they have learned not to fear but to be grateful for.

In an Instant is much more than the dual memoir of love and courage. It is an important, wise, and inspiring guide to coping with tragedy – and an extraordinary drama of marriage, family, war, and nation.
Among the praise for In An Instant:
“Gripping ... The Woodruffs’ devotion to each other is palpable.... [In an Instant is] a remarkably lucid, even engrossing story of ... Bob Woodruff’s recovery, interwoven with tales from his marriage and family life.”
–San Jose Mercury News

“Both Woodruffs [shoot] from the hip, writing with candor about their ordeal and describing it with an intimacy that couldn’t be captured on camera.... Their frankness heightens the book’s impact.”
–New York Times

“Extraordinary . . . All sorts of themes thread their way through this frank, inspiring book: courage in the face of adversity; the pursuit of career at the expense of family; the bravery of foreign correspondents; the fortitude of female friendship.... Woodruff’s survival story comforts.”
–The Seattle Times

“A testimony to the power of the human spirit, to the catharsis of love and to infinite hope.”
–The Oklahoman
The Page 99 Test: In an Instant.

Read an excerpt from In An Instant, and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Marco Beltrami reading?

Marco Beltrami, nominated for an Academy Award for his score to 3:10 to Yuma, talked to the Christian Science Monitor about the music he's been listening to and the movies he's been watching.

And what he's been reading:
Lately, the main book I've been reading is what I read to the kids every night: Pinocchio. It's a long book, and quite a violent book in many ways, but a great tale for kids. Lately, for myself, I've been drawn to nonfiction works such as this book called The Adventurist, by Robert Young Pelton. He writes about places you wouldn't normally go. It appeals to my sense of adventure. A lot of my job is inside, and to be able to have that contrast is appealing to me both as an idea and as a practical form of balance.
Read more about Beltrami and music and movies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top 10 Polish books

James Hopkin's acclaimed debut novel, Winter Under Water, is just out in the U.K.

He named a top 10 list of Polish novels for the Guardian.

One title to make the list:
The Beautiful Mrs Seidenman by Andrzej Szczypiorski (Abacus)

The story follows the arrest of Irma Seidenman, one of the last surviving Jewish women in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. With a fine balance between poetic tenderness and an unflinching account of the brutal realities of the day, Szczypiorski shows us the intertwining lives of the few Poles, Jews, and Germans who risk everything to save her. Szczypiorski himself fought in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, then survived Sachsenhausen concentration camp. His experiences are brought to bear with both shocking and heart-warming brilliance.
Read about another book on Hopkin's list.

Visit James Hopkin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pg. 69: Neil Shubin's "Your Inner Fish"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why do we look the way we do? What does the human hand have in common with the wing of a fly? Are breasts, sweat glands, and scales connected in some way? To better understand the inner workings of our bodies and to trace the origins of many of today's most common diseases, we have to turn to unexpected sources: worms, flies, and even fish.

Neil Shubin, a leading paleontologist and professor of anatomy who discovered Tiktaalik — the "missing link" that made headlines around the world in April 2006 — tells the story of evolution by tracing the organs of the human body back millions of years, long before the first creatures walked the earth. By examining fossils and DNA, Shubin shows us that our hands actually resemble fish fins, our head is organized like that of a long-extinct jawless fish, and major parts of our genome look and function like those of worms and bacteria.

Shubin makes us see ourselves and our world in a completely new light. Your Inner Fish is science writing at its finest — enlightening, accessible, and told with irresistible enthusiasm.
Among the praise for Your Inner Fish:
“A delightful introduction to our skeletal structure, viscera and other vital parts — and evidence that learning the secrets of the human body need not unhinge you.... [Shubin] is a warm and disarming guide.... Future researchers, aware that the ingredients of our evolutionary precursors are part of the human recipe, may well find new ways to prevent the wear and tear on our fish-begotten bodies. And who knows? Maybe one or two of them will have had their first taste of the marvels of human evolution in Neil Shubin’s anatomy class.”
Los Angeles Times

“With infectious enthusiasm, unfailing clarity, and laugh-out-loud humor, Neil Shubin has created a book on paleontology, genetics, genomics, and anatomy that is almost impossible to put down. In telling the story of why we are who we are, Shubin does more than show us our inner fish; he awakens and excites the inner scientist in us all.”
—Pauline Chen, author of Final Exam

Your Inner Fish is my favorite sort of book — an intelligent, exhilarating, and compelling scientific adventure story, one which will change forever how you understand what it means to be human.... Shubin is not only a distinguished scientist, but a wonderfully lucid and elegant writer; he is an irrepressibly enthusiastic teacher whose humor and intelligence and spellbinding narrative make this book an absolute delight. Your Inner Fish is not only a great read; it marks the debut of a science writer of the first rank.”
—Oliver Sacks,

“The antievolution crowd is always asking where the missing links in the descent of man are. Well, paleontologist Shubin actually discovered one.... A crackerjack comparative anatomist, he uses his find to launch a voyage of discovery about the evolutionary evidence we can readily see at hand.... Shubin relays all this exciting evidence and reasoning so clearly that no general-interest library should be without this book.”
Booklist (starred review)

“A skillful writer, paleontologist Shubin conveys infectious enthusiasm.... Even readers with only a layperson’s knowledge of evolution will learn marvelous things about the unity of all organisms since the beginning of life.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Read an excerpt from Your Inner Fish and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

Learn more about Neil Shubin's research and other publications at his faculty webpage.

Neil Shubin is provost of The Field Museum as well as a professor of anatomy at the University of Chicago, where he also serves as an associate dean.

The Page 69 Test: Your Inner Fish.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Peter J. Spiro's "Beyond Citizenship"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Peter J. Spiro's Beyond Citizenship: American Identity After Globalization.

About the book, from the publisher:
American identity has always been capacious as a concept but narrow in its application. Citizenship has mostly been about being here, either through birth or residence. The territorial premises for citizenship have worked to resolve the peculiar challenges of American identity. But globalization is detaching identity from location. What used to define American was rooted in American space. Now one can be anywhere and be an American, politically or culturally. Against that backdrop, it becomes difficult to draw the boundaries of human community in a meaningful way. Longstanding notions of democratic citizenship are becoming obsolete, even as we cling to them. Beyond Citizenship charts the trajectory of American citizenship and shows how American identity is unsustainable in the face of globalization.

Peter J. Spiro describes how citizenship law once reflected and shaped the American national character. Spiro explores the histories of birthright citizenship, naturalization, dual citizenship, and how those legal regimes helped reinforce an otherwise fragile national identity. But on a shifting global landscape, citizenship status has become increasingly divorced from any sense of actual community on the ground. As the bonds of citizenship dissipate, membership in the nation-state becomes less meaningful. The rights and obligations distinctive to citizenship are now trivial. Naturalization requirements have been relaxed, dual citizenship embraced, and territorial birthright citizenship entrenched -- developments that are all irreversible. Loyalties, meanwhile, are moving to transnational communities defined in many different ways: by race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, and sexual orientation. These communities, Spiro boldly argues, are replacing bonds that once connected people to the nation-state, with profound implications for the future of governance.

Learned, incisive, and sweeping in scope, Beyond Citizenship offers a provocative look at how globalization is changing the very definition of who we are and where we belong.
Among the praise for Beyond Citizenship:

"This is a major contribution to the issue of political membership in our unsettled world. Its distinctiveness is a mix of precision and the shattering of traditional conceptual boundaries, which allows Spiro to open up new analytical terrain in a subject more often developed through the language of aspirations."
--Saskia Sassen, author of Territory, Authority, Rights and Helen and Robert Lynd Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

"In this lucid, engaging, and highly accessible book, Peter Spiro traces the erosion of the legal foundations of American citizenship and shows why the foundations cannot be repaired. Spiro argues that it is no longer possible to sustain a distinctive American identity. This book poses an important challenge to anyone seeking to view American social and political life through the lens of citizenship."
--Joseph H. Carens, author of Culture, Citizenship, and Community and Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto

"A lively and accessible investigation of how the law and practice of citizenship are being transformed by globalization. Professor Spiro fearlessly explores the ultimate consequences of current trends and arguments. His vision of a future multiplicity of partial citizenships raises serious challenges for democratic politics. Spiro's account is provocative throughout and provides rich food for thought."
--Gerald Neuman, author of Strangers to the Constitution and J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law, Harvard University

"In Beyond Citizenship, one of our best and most provocative scholars demonstrates with skill, erudition, and an engaging style accessible to all how globalization's tectonic forces are eroding the coherence of American citizenship, the supposed bedrock of our national identity. With this much-needed book, our debate on this vital subject will never be the same."
--Peter H. Schuck, author of Citizenship Without Consent and Citizens, Strangers, and In-Betweens and Simeon E. Baldwin Professor, Yale Law School

Read more about Beyond Citizenship at the Oxford University Press website, and learn more about Peter Spiro's research and publications at his faculty webpage.

Peter J. Spiro is the Charles R. Weiner Professor of Law at Temple Law School. Before going to Temple, he was the Rusk Professor of Law at the University of Georgia Law School and a former law clerk to Justice David H. Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Page 99 Test: Beyond Citizenship.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Critics chart: six books on irregular war

M.R.D. Foot is a decorated veteran of the British Army and scholar of modern history. His many books include SOE: The Special Operations Executive 1940-1946. For the (London) Times, he named a critics chart of "six books on irregular war."

One book to make his list:
Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E Lawrence

Full of guerrilla theory: how Arab irregulars helped to break Turkish power over the Levant in 1917-18.
Read about another book on Foot's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Andrew Nagorski reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Andrew Nagorski, a senior editor at Newsweek International and author of several books, including The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II.

One book mentioned in his entry:
Lenin’s Brain and Other Tales From the Secret Soviet Archives by Paul Gregory, based on the Hoover Institution’s extensive collection of documents from Soviet state and party archives. My Newsweek review is available online. What I particularly liked about Gregory’s compact book is that it provides a rich array of chilling stories about the inner workings of a monstrous system. [read on]
Nagorski's The Greatest Battle was named one of the Best Books of 2007 by the Washington Post.

Among the praise for The Greatest Battle:
"...a new and beautifully researched account of what had been been a poorly understood part of the war."
--Anne Applebaum, New York Review of Books

“Nagorski is definitely a devotee, and his new book is a landmark in studies of Russia precisely because it skillfully unwraps myths, martyrs and demons.”
--Constantine Pleshakov, Washington Post Book World

“Enthralling history.”
--Ned Crabb, Wall Street Journal
Read an excerpt from The Greatest Battle, and learn more about the writer and his work at Andrew Nagorski's website.

Writers Read: Andrew Nagorski.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pg. 69: Matt Beynon Rees' "A Grave in Gaza"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Matt Beynon Rees' A Grave in Gaza.

About the book, from David Keymer's Library Journal review:
In Rees's exceptionally fine follow-up to his highly praised debut, The Collaborator of Bethlehem, the Palestinian government in Gaza is a fiction: warring gangs collaborate only to loot. Omar Yussef, the principal of a girls' school in Bethlehem, arrives on an inspection tour of schools and is soon drawn into efforts to secure the release of a university lecturer arrested on a trumped-up charge of spying. One of his colleagues is kidnapped, a UN van is blown up, and a UN observer killed. At 56, Yussef is neither supersleuth nor superhero, just an honorable man striving to find justice for the disenfranchised in a thoroughly corrupt society, where violence is the preferred, indeed, the only tool of governing. A virtue of this outstanding novel is its prose: evocative and sensual in describing setting and character, forceful in moving along the action. A compelling mystery story and a sympathetic portrait of a wounded society, this novel is truly excellent popular fiction. Strongly recommended for mystery and general collections.
Among the early praise for A Grave in Gaza:
“Matt Beynon Rees has taken a complex world of culture clash and suspicion and placed upon it humanity.”
—David Baldacci, The Collectors

"Rees’ The Collaborator of Bethlehem (2007) may have been last year’s best mystery debut. This followup, again starring Omar Yussef, the mild-mannered Palestinian history teacher determined to defy all the ideologues who exploit his homeland, is every bit as good as its predecessor.... Like the late Batya Gur, Rees combines solid mystery plotting with a literary novelist’s emphasis on character and the small human dramas that happen within the broader sociopolitical landscape. And, unlike many crime writers, he writes with great power, style, and emotion: 'Gaza bellowed and struggled like an injured donkey, while its rulers played the role of the angry farmer, furiously beating the stricken beast, though they knew it couldn’t get up.'"
Booklist, starred review

“Omar’s probe of a West Bank ruled by political intrigue, religious hatred, and militia thugs lets ex-Time Jerusalem bureau chief Rees make the Mideast conflict personal.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Uncovers the gritty, often disturbing human realities of life in Palestinian society…. [Rees] gives his characters heart as he gives his readers a thrill.”

“An evocative, compassionate tale.”
San Francisco Chronicle

"Yussef is a splendid creation."
—Colin Dexter, author of the Inspector Morse Mysteries
Learn more about A Grave in Gaza and its author at Matt Beynon Rees' website.

Matt Beynon Rees published a nonfiction account of Israeli and Palestinian society called Cain's Field: Faith, Fratricide, and Fear in the Middle East (2004). His first detective novel, The Collaborator of Bethlehem, was published in the U.S. in February 2007. It was nominated for a Quill Award and named one of the Top 10 Mysteries of the Year by Booklist.

The French magazine L'Express called Matt Beynon Rees "the Dashiell Hammett of Palestine."

The Page 69 Test: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

My Book, The Movie: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

The Page 69 Test: A Grave in Gaza.

--Marshal Zeringue