Monday, February 28, 2011

Craig McDonald's "One True Sentence," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: One True Sentence by Craig McDonald.

The entry begins:
There will come a time when George Lucas will deliver on his alleged promise (threat?) to cast movies using digitally resurrected, long dead actors. When that moment arrives, it would finally be feasible to cast the movie I see in my head when I think about One True Sentence, the fourth Hector Lassiter historical literary thriller — one peopled by pop culture titans who have left indelible images of themselves in readers’ heads.

The novel is set in 1924 Paris, but the characters who cross my pages left myriad photos — and even some grainy film footage — of themselves to posterity. We all know how Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas and other City of Lights luminaries looked back then.

My series character, crime novelist and screenwriter Hector Lassiter, has always been personified by the actor William Holden for me. In fact, in several books, his resemblance to Holden is remarked on (in a still-to-be-published Lassiter novel, a key plot point revolves around a seventy-something Lassiter actually posing as Holden). So, in that George Lucas virtual world, Lassiter would be played by a young Holden. His love interest, the darkly enticing mystery writer, Brinke Devlin, would be portrayed by the silent-screen siren who largely inspired her, Louise Brooks.

But, for now (and to the possible chagrin of Mr. Lucas), we have to content ourselves to casting living actors. That being the case, for Texas-born Hector Lassiter I envision Texas-born actor...[read on]
Learn more about the author and his work at Craig McDonald's website and blog.

Read "The Story Behind the Story: One True Sentence, by Craig McDonald" at The Rap Sheet.

The Page 69 Test: Toros & Torsos.

The Page 69 Test: Head Games.

The Page 69 Test: Print the Legend.

My Book, The Movie: Print the Legend.

The Page 69 Test: One True Sentence.

Writers Read: Craig McDonald.

My Book, The Movie: One True Sentence.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Priya Parmar reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Priya Parmar, author of Exit the Actress.

Her entry begins:
I am at that really good point in a really good book. You know that lovely place in a hefty, long book when you are well into it but still have hundreds of pages in front of you? It is such a clear sailing, comfy feeling to roam around that space. I am reading Sally Beauman’s Dark Angel just now and have three hundred pages behind me and four hundred ahead. Perfect.

It is evocative, consuming, edgy and gothic novel and I was not expecting to like it so much. I picked it up because it is set in WWI and I am...[read on]
Among the early praise for Exit the Actress:
"Clever ... a delight ... irresistible ... I loved this book."
—Sharon Kay Penman, author of Devil's Brood

“A real triumph…. A vivid imagining of the restoration London of Charles II with Nell Gwynn as a powerful and engaging heroine set in the busy world of the theater. This debut novel captures the glamorous world of the amoral court and the struggle of the city. Priya Parmar is a writer to watch.”
—Philippa Gregory, author of The Other Boleyn Girl

“Nell is irrepressible, spunky, delightful: who wouldn’t fall in love with her? Her story unfolds through diary entries, letters, news announcements, recipes. It's a tasty and often amusing confection, sure to please. I absolutely adored it.”
—Sandra Gulland, author of the Josephine B. Trilogy and Mistress of the Sun
Priya Parmar, a former freelance editor and dramaturg holds degrees in English Literature and theatre. She attended Mount Holyoke College, Oxford University and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Edinburgh. She divides her time between Hawaii and London.

Visit Priya Parmar's website and blog.

Writers Read: Priya Parmar.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Deb Olin Unferth's "Revolution"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War by Deb Olin Unferth.

About the book, from the publisher:
Rising literary star Deb Olin Unferth offers a new twist on the coming-of-age memoir in this utterly unique and captivating story of the year she ran away from college with her Christian boyfriend and followed him to Nicaragua to join the Sandinistas.

Despite their earnest commitment to a myriad of revolutionary causes and to each other, the couple find themselves unwanted, unhelpful, and unprepared as they bop around Central America, looking for "revolution jobs." The year is 1987, a turning point in the Cold War. The East-West balance has begun to tip, although the world doesn't know it yet, especially not Unferth and her fiancé (he proposes on a roadside in El Salvador). The months wear on and cracks begin to form in their relationship: they get fired, they get sick, they run out of money, they grow disillusioned with the revolution and each other. But years later the trip remains fixed in her mind and she finally goes back to Nicaragua to try to make sense of it all. Unferth's heartbreaking and hilarious memoir perfectly captures the youthful search for meaning, and is an absorbing rumination on what happens to a country and its people after the revolution is over.
Read an excerpt from Revolution, and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: Revolution.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Elizabeth Stuckey-French's "The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French.

About the book, from the publisher:
This lively, intricately plotted, laugh-out-loud funny, and surprisingly touching family drama combines the wit of Carl Hiaasen with the southern charm of Jill McCorkle.

Seventy-seven-year-old Marylou Ahearn is going to kill Dr. Wilson Spriggs come hell or high water. In 1953, he gave her a radioactive cocktail without her consent as part of a secret government study that had horrible consequences.

Marylou has been plotting her revenge for fifty years. When she accidentally discovers his whereabouts in Florida, her plans finally snap into action. She high tails it to hot and humid Tallahassee, moves in down the block from where a now senile Spriggs lives with his daughter’s family, and begins the tricky work of insinuating herself into their lives. But she has no idea what a nest of yellow jackets she is stum­bling into.

Before the novel is through, someone will be kidnapped, an unlikely couple will get engaged, someone will nearly die from eating a pineapple upside-down cake laced with anti-freeze, and that’s not all...

Told from the varied perspectives of an incredible cast of endearing oddball characters and written with the flair of a native Floridian, this dark comedy does not disappoint.
Learn more about the book and author at Elizabeth Stuckey-French's website.

Elizabeth Stuckey-French is the author of a novel, Mermaids on the Moon, a collection of short stories, The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa, and, with Janet Burroway, Writing Fiction: A Guide to the Narrative Craft.

The Page 69 Test: The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best deathless accounts of mourning

Adam Haslett is the author of You Are Not A Stranger Here, a short story collection, which was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, and won the PEN/Winship Award. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, Zoetrope, and Best American Short Stories as well as National Public Radio’s Selected Shorts.

His debut novel Union Atlantic was published last year.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of novelists on grief. One book on the list:
The Year of Magical Thinking
by Joan Didion (2005)

This gimlet-eyed memoir is Joan Didion's meticulous chronicle of the harrowing year following the death of her husband of 40 years, the writer John Gregory Dunne, who died of a heart attack at their dinner table. They had never been apart more than a week. The shock and confusion leaves Didion's memory scrambled and her once reliable logic undone. Returning from the hospital, she can't even remember her own address. "The Year of Magical Thinking," which won the National Book Award in 2005, traces this aftermath with Didion's characteristic precision and lack of sentiment. She muses on the mourners who remained at the house "even after I had gone into the bedroom (our bedroom, the one in which there still lay on a sofa a faded terrycloth XL robe bought in the 1970s at Richard Carroll in Beverly Hills) and shut the door." No choice of word or detail goes unexamined, from the science of cardiology to the last page her husband read—all of it is sifted for an answer that no research can provide: What are you supposed to do when the most important person in your life vanishes?
Read about another entry on the list.

The Year of Magical Thinking is one of Douglas Kennedy's top ten books about grief and one of Norris Church Mailer's five best memoirs.

Visit Adam Haslett's website.

The Page 69 Test: Union Atlantic.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What is Dave Zeltserman reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Dave Zeltserman, author of Outsourced.

His entry begins:
The last two novels I read were manuscripts to blurb upcoming books. The last was Diabolical by Hank Schwaeble, which is a followup to Schwaeble's Damnable published by Jove. Damnable was just a lot of fun--this horror thriller with demons, beautiful demon-women hybrids called Carnates, a plot to send everyone to hell, and a tough guy hero, Jake Hatcher. What made the first book so much was this terrific compulsory vibe in to Schwaeble's writing and the way he zags when I think he's going to zig. Diabolical turned out to be even better. The Carnates, Jake, and a new set of demons are back in a book that's so fast-paced you can burn your fingers turning the pages.

Before that I read a debut noir book, The Bastard Hand by Heath Lowrance which New Pulp Press is putting out. This is just a wild book that's almost...[read on]
Among the early praise for Outsourced:
"A dark, lightening-paced read"
--Financial Times

"Dave Zeltserman's Outsourced is a speedy, gritty, hardboiled bank robbery tale that bops and weaves along as a group of out-of-work computer programmers decide to get their hands dirty and find they like it a lot. As with Zeltserman's previous novels Small Crimes, Pariah, and Killer, his greatest storytelling skill is in the small true, emotional details that every reader will understand. He will definitely keep you flipping pages as fast you can, and once you finish one book you'll be racing on to the next."
--Tom Piccirilli, author of Shadow Season and The Cold Spot

"It's a bleak book with a bleak ending, one you're likely to keep reading past your bedtime to get to. Zeltserman had a breakout year in 2010, and this book will just add to his growing reputation."
--Bill Crider, author of Murder In The Air

"Outsourced is brilliantly paced and reminiscent of A Simple Plan with the supposed non-criminals slowly descending into desperation and violence, and Zeltserman gives the characters (Dan, in particularly) a kind of heartbreaking vulnerability as well. Another great crime novel from Zeltserman."
--Paul Tremblay, author of The Little Sleep
Learn more about the author and his work at Dave Zeltserman's website and blog.

Zeltserman is the author of ten novels, including Killer, Pariah, The Caretaker of Lorne Field, Small Crimes, and Blood Crimes, as well as many short stories and a collection of short crime fiction, 21 Tales.

My Book, The Movie: Small Crimes.

The Page 69 Test: Pariah.

The Page 69 Test: Outsourced.

Writers Read: Dave Zeltserman

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Edward Dolnick's "The Clockwork Universe"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World by Edward Dolnick.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Clockwork Universe is the story of a band of men who lived in a world of dirt and disease but pictured a universe that ran like a perfect machine. A meld of history and science, this book is a group portrait of some of the greatest minds who ever lived as they wrestled with nature’s most sweeping mysteries. The answers they uncovered still hold the key to how we understand the world.

At the end of the seventeenth century—an age of religious wars, plague, and the Great Fire of London— when most people saw the world as falling apart, these earliest scientists saw a world of perfect order. They declared that, chaotic as it looked, the universe was in fact as intricate and perfectly regulated as a clock. This was the tail end of Shakespeare’s century, when the natural and the supernatural still twined around each other. Disease was a punishment ordained by God, astronomy had not yet broken free from astrology, and the sky was filled with omens. It was a time when little was known and everything was new. These brilliant, ambitious, curious men believed in angels, alchemy, and the devil, and they also believed that the universe followed precise, mathematical laws—a contradiction that tormented them and changed the course of history.

The Clockwork Universe is the fascinating and compelling story of the bewildered geniuses of the Royal Society, the men who made the modern world.
Learn more about the book and author at Edward Dolnick's website.

Dolnick's books include The Forger's Spell, the New York Times bestselling account of the greatest art hoax of the 20th century, and The Rescue Artist, winner of the Edgar Award in 2006 for best non-fiction.

The Page 69 Test: The Forger's Spell.

The Page 99 Test: The Clockwork Universe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best birthday poems

At the Guardian, John Mullan named ten of the best birthday poems.

One title on the list:
"Poem on his Birthday" by Dylan Thomas

Thomas is 35 and sitting in a nice room near the sea, but makes it sound both lyrical and death-bound. "And the rhymer in the long tongued room, / Who tolls his birthday bell, / Toils towards the ambush of his wounds; / Herons, steeple stemmed, bless."
Read about another poem on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pg. 69: Benjamin Hale's "The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore"

This weekend's feature at the Page 69 Test: The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale.

About the book, from the publisher:
Bruno Littlemore is quite unlike any chimpanzee in the world. Precocious, self-conscious and preternaturally gifted, young Bruno, born and raised in a habitat at the local zoo, falls under the care of a university primatologist named Lydia Littlemore. Learning of Bruno's ability to speak, Lydia takes Bruno into her home to oversee his education and nurture his passion for painting. But for all of his gifts, the chimpanzee has a rough time caging his more primal urges. His untimely outbursts ultimately cost Lydia her job, and send the unlikely pair on the road in what proves to be one of the most unforgettable journeys -- and most affecting love stories -- in recent literature. Like its protagonist, this novel is big, loud, abrasive, witty, perverse, earnest and amazingly accomplished. The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore goes beyond satire by showing us not what it means, but what it feels like be human -- to love and lose, learn, aspire, grasp, and, in the end, to fail.
Learn more about the book and author at Benjamin Hale's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thelma Adams's "Playdate," the movie (Oscar Edition)

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Playdate by Thelma Adams.

The entry begins:
Inspired by the upcoming Academy Awards, I’m casting my book from current Oscar nominees. Playdate began with a simple movie pitch: Shampoo meets Mr. Mom. Clearly, Warren Beatty and Michael Keaton have aged out of playing my stay-at-home-dad (SAHD) protagonist. And the book has grown well beyond its one-sentence premise, so that each character, male and female, child and adult, became their own ornery being.

Cast Lance, the SAHD, and the rest of the book falls into place. This modern, easy-going dad loves his daughter Belle, is trying to father another child with his distracted wife Darlene, and has Tantric sex with Wren, the wife of Darlene’s business partner Alec. See  Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right as the charming sperm donor trying to wiggle his way in to his biological children’s nuclear family after a lifetime of casual sex, and there are the seeds of Lance.

What about Lance’s Tantric sex partner? At the New York Film Critics Circle Awards last month, I heard Michelle...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Thelma Adams' website.

Adams has been Us Weekly’s film critic since 2000, after six years reviewing at the New York Post. She has written for Marie Claire, the New York Times, Cosmopolitan and Self.

The Page 69 Test: Playdate.

My Book, The Movie: Playdate.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten tales of metamorphosis

Thomas Bloor is the author of the three book series that begins with Worm in the Blood, continues with Beast Beneath the Skin, and concludes with Heart of the Serpent.

A few years ago he named a top ten list of tales of metamorphosis for the Guardian, including:
The Witches by Roald Dahl

In which the main character, a boy who narrates the story, is turned into a mouse. This happens towards the end of the book, and provokes the mouse and his redoubtable grandmother to take spectacular revenge on the witches responsible for the transformation. Against all the usual expectations, it turns out the boy cannot ever be changed back into a human again. The book ends with our hero stoically looking forward to living out an extended nine-year life-span as a mouse.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pg. 99: Donald C. Jackson's "Life in a Shell"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Life in a Shell: A Physiologist’s View of a Turtle by Donald C. Jackson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Trundling along in essentially the same form for some 220 million years, turtles have seen dinosaurs come and go, mammals emerge, and humankind expand its dominion. Is it any wonder the persistent reptile bested the hare? In this engaging book physiologist Donald Jackson shares a lifetime of observation of this curious creature, allowing us a look under the shell of an animal at once so familiar and so strange.

Here we discover how the turtle’s proverbial slowness helps it survive a long, cold winter under ice. How the shell not only serves as a protective home but also influences such essential functions as buoyancy control, breathing, and surviving remarkably long periods without oxygen, and how many other physiological features help define this unique animal. Jackson offers insight into what exactly it’s like to live inside a shell—to carry the heavy carapace on land and in water, to breathe without an expandable ribcage, to have sex with all that body armor intervening.

Along the way we also learn something about the process of scientific discovery—how the answer to one question leads to new questions, how a chance observation can change the direction of study, and above all how new research always builds on the previous work of others. A clear and informative exposition of physiological concepts using the turtle as a model organism, the book is as interesting for what it tells us about scientific investigation as it is for its deep and detailed understanding of how the enduring turtle “works.”
Learn more about Life in a Shell at the Harvard University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Life in a Shell.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Ellen Meeropol reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Ellen Meeropol, author of House Arrest, her first novel.

Her entry begins:
I work part-time at an independent bookstore and serve on their First Edition Club selection committee. This means we read ARC’s (advance readers copies) several months before publication. I just finished Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder and Touch by Alexi Zentner.

State of Wonder opens when a vague airmail letter informs pharmaceutical researcher Marina Singh that her friend and co-worker Anders Eckman died deep in the Amazon jungle where he was investigating a research project funded by the company employing them both. Marina is sent to find out exactly what happened to Eckman, to retrieve his body, and to ferret out the progress of the research led by her former medical school teacher, the brilliant and evasive Annick Swenson. A complicated mixture of dramatic plot involving killer anacondas and cannibal tribes, amazingly tactile and rich descriptions of the jungle, and thoughtful contemplation of the ethics of pharmaceutical development, and the lifelong effect a teacher can have on her students make this another first-rate read...[read on]
Among the early praise for House Arrest:
“smart, provocative, and moving”
–Julia Glass

"compelling debut"
–Heidi W. Durrow

“intelligent, heartfelt, challenging”
–Lesléa Newman

“thoughtful and tightly composed, unflinching in taking on challenging subjects and deliberating uneasy ethical conundrums”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“what it means to live by the principle of compassion, even in defiance of the rules and the rule-makers”
–Martín Espada
Visit Ellen Meeropol's website and blog.

See Meeropol's list of five political novels to change the world.

Writers Read: Ellen Meeropol.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best books about America's unsung war heroes

Robert Coram, a military historian, is the author of Brute: The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of books about America's unsung war heroes.

One title on the list:
Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats That Won World War II
by Jerry E. Strahan (1994)

Andrew Jackson Higgins was a New Orleans boat builder whose temper was as fiery as his patriotism. His drop-bow landing craft led the way in every major campaign of World War II—the boats were the ones that soldiers poured from on D-Day. As Jerry E. Strahan notes in his fascinating story of the man and his design, Higgins Boats were fundamental to our war strategy because they made it possible to put men and equipment on beaches. Casualties would have been catastrophic using the underpowered boats with deep-vee bottoms and high gunwales that the U.S. Navy had preferred on the eve of the war. The battles over boat design between the impatient Higgins and the tradition-steeped Navy were epic. "If the Navy wants something sensible," he said, "why the hell don't they listen to people like us who have had years of experience?" After Pearl Harbor, the Navy started listening. Higgins promptly renegotiated his government contracts, declaring that he didn't want to make so much money when American boys were in a shooting war.
Read about another book on the list.

Also see: Sandi Toksvig's top ten unsung heroines.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pg. 99: John Himmelman's "Cricket Radio"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Cricket Radio: Tuning in the Nightsinging Insects by John Himmelman.

About the book, from the publisher:
At a time when night-singing insects have slipped beyond our notice—indeed, are more likely to be heard as NatureSounds than in a backyard—John Himmelman seeks to reconnect us to creatures whose songs form a part of our own natural history.

On warm summer evenings, night-singing insects produce a whirring, chirping soundscape—a calming aural tapestry celebrated by poets and naturalists for millennia. But “cricket radio” is not broadcast for the easy-listening pleasure of humans. The nocturnal songs of insects are lures and warnings, full of risks and rewards for these tiny competitive performers. What moves crickets and katydids to sing, how they produce their distinctive sounds, how they hear the songs of others, and how they vary cadence, volume, and pitch to attract potential mates, warn off competitors, and evade predators is part of the engaging story Cricket Radio tells.

Himmelman’s narrative weaves together his personal experiences as an amateur naturalist in search of crickets and katydids with the stories of scientists who study these insects professionally. He also offers instructions for bringing a few of the little singers into our homes and gardens. We can, Himmelman suggests, be reawakened to these night songs that have meant so much to the human psyche. The online insect calls that accompany this colorfully illustrated narrative provide a bridge of sound to our past and to our vital connection with other species.
Learn more about Cricket Radio at the Harvard University Press website.

Visit John Himmelman's website.

The Page 99 Test: Cricket Radio.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Linda L. Layne reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writers Read: Linda L. Layne, co-editor of Feminist Technology.

Her entry begins:
Over the holidays I read two books on consumer culture. The first, Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Family’s Century of Art and Loss, was a Christmas gift from my partner. It was unlike anything I had ever read. After inheriting a collection of tiny Japanese sculptures of animals and figures carved out of ivory or wood from a great uncle, de Waal spent several years meticulously tracing the social history of the collection, how the objects got “handled and handed on” through four generations of his “ridiculously wealthy,” cosmopolitan, Jewish ancestors who were based in Odessa, Paris, Vienna, and Japan. It is inconceivable that anyone else could have written such a book. Waal is an art ceramist and so has a particular relationship to material culture. In addition, he studied English at Cambridge. The result is a book one can luxuriate over. His netsuke collection was purchased by Charles Ephrussi, an up-and-coming art collector, critic, and historian in Paris in the 1870s, during the rage for japonisme when wealthy Europeans were buying art treasures for a pittance from impoverished daimoyos and samurai. Once in Europe, these fine objects were...[read on]
Among the praise for Feminist Technology:
"This coherent and integrated collection lays out the issues and questions of feminist technology, crossing a true range of disciplinary boundaries including science and technology studies, architecture, biology, and the social sciences."
--Barbara Katz Rothman, author of Recreating Motherhood: Ideology and Technology in a Patriarchal Society
Learn more about Feminist Technology by following the blog at the University of Illinois website.

Linda L. Layne is Hale Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer. She is the author Motherhood Lost: A Feminist Account of Pregnancy Loss in America, and Home and Homeland: The Dialogics of Tribal and National Identities in Jordan and has edited two volumes on motherhood and consumption: Consuming Motherhood and Transformative Motherhood: On Giving and Getting in a Consumer Culture.

Visit Linda L. Layne's faculty webpage.

The Page 99 Test: Feminist Technology.

Writers Read: Linda L. Layne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Juliette Fay's "Deep Down True"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Deep Down True by Juliette Fay.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the author of Shelter Me--a funny and poignant novel about having your heart in the right place.

Newly divorced Dana Stellgarten has always been unfailingly nice- even to telemarketers-but now her temper is wearing thin. Money is tight, her kids are reeling from their dad's departure, and her Goth teenage niece has just landed on her doorstep. As she enters the slipstream of post-divorce romance and is befriended by the town queen bee, Dana finds that the tension between being true to yourself and being liked doesn't end in middle school... and that sometimes it takes a real friend to help you embrace adulthood in all its flawed complexity.
Read an excerpt from Deep Down True and view the video trailer.

Learn more about the book and author at Juliette Fay's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Deep Down True.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten: writing’s filthiest pervert geniuses

"Anyone who has taken English 101 knows that literature has its share of dirty old men — the lascivious, the leering, and the lewd, the men who concern themselves with the baser instincts and darker drives, the author equivalent of the creep in the corner, stroking his chin and staring at the rears of the teenagers," writes Nina MacLaughlin. Her top ten list of "some of the dirtiest, most salacious and scandalous men in letters" includes:
Michel Houellebecq

Alternately lauded as a French literary luminary and disparaged for being a nihilist pornographer, Monsieur Houellebecq, author of The Elementary Particles and Platform, among others, has had a reputation for trying to seduce his female interviewers.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kelli Stanley's "The Curse-Maker," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Curse-Maker by Kelli Stanley.

The entry begins:
I’d love to see my books made into film … what author (except maybe J.D. Salinger) wouldn’t?

For The Curse-Maker, I’d stick to the idea that Romans are voiced by Americans and native Britons by, of course, the British. This turns the mid-Atlantic accent tradition on its head, but is eminently more suitable for the voice of Roman noir.

Now then … who to play Arcturus?

If this were the Golden Age of Hollywood, no problem—I’d try to get William Holden at 35. He’s the epitome of tall, dark and classically handsome, but also sensitive and sarcastic—some of Arcturus’ prime characteristics.

We’re not in the Golden Age of Hollywood, however … and the only actors who can fit the bill—to my mind—aren’t American. If we follow the Holden prototype, Hugh Jackman would work. And I could be very happy with...[read on]
Read an excerpt from The Curse-Maker, and learn more about the novel and author at Kelli Stanley's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Nox Dormienda.

The Page 69 Test: City of Dragons.

My Book, The Movie: City of Dragons.

Coffee with a Canine: Kelli Stanley & Bertie.

The Page 69 Test: The Curse-Maker.

My Book, The Movie: The Curse-Maker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ariel Sabar's "Heart of the City"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Heart of the City: Nine Stories of Love and Serendipity on the Streets of New York by Ariel Sabar.

About the book, from the publisher:
“The couples in this book hail from across America and the world. Most don’t live in New York City. Some never did. What mattered to me was that they met there, in one of its iconic public places. Each of the nine stories begins just before that chance meeting—when they are strangers, oblivious to how, in moments, their lives will irrevocably change.”
—from the Introduction

The handsome Texas sailor who offers dinner to a runaway in Central Park. The Midwestern college girl who stops a cop in Times Square for restaurant advice. The Brooklyn man on a midnight subway who helps a weary tourist find her way to Chinatown. The Columbia University graduate student who encounters an unexpected object of beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A public place in the world’s greatest city. A chance meeting of strangers. A marriage. Heart of the City tells the remarkable true stories of nine ordinary couples—from the 1940s to the present—whose matchmaker was the City of New York.

Intrigued by the romance of his own parents, who met in Washington Square Park, award-winning author Ariel Sabar set off on a far-ranging search for other couples who married after first meeting in one of New York City’s iconic public spaces. Sabar conjures their big-city love stories in novel-like detail, drawing us into the hearts of strangers just as their lives are about to change forever.

In setting the stage for these surprising, funny, and moving tales, Sabar, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, takes us on a fascinating tour of the psychological research into the importance of place in how—and whether—people meet and fall in love.

Heart of the City is a paean to the physical city as matchmaker, a tribute to the power of chance, and an eloquent reminder of why we must care about the design of urban spaces.
Learn more about the author and his work at Ariel Sabar's website.

Ariel Sabar covered the 2008 U.S. presidential campaigns for the Christian Science Monitor and is an award-winning former staff writer for the Baltimore Sun and the Providence (RI) Journal. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Monthly, Mother Jones, Moment, Christianity Today and other publications.  His first book, My Father’s Paradise, won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The Page 99 Test: My Father’s Paradise.

The Page 99 Test: Heart of the City.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is David Halperin reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: David Halperin, author of Journal of a UFO Investigator, his first novel.

His entry begins:
For the first time in some years, my current reading consists of newly published books in which UFOs are a main topic. The quality is vastly higher than I remember it as being in my “UFO investigator” days fifty years ago.

The gorgeously illustrated Hidden Realms, Lost Civilizations, and Beings from Other Worlds (Detroit: Visible Ink, 2010), by veteran UFOlogist Jerome Clark, puts UFOs into the broader spectrum of what Clark calls “anomalous” phenomena. These Clark divides into “experience anomalies” and “event anomalies,” the latter being those that seem to belong to consensus reality. (Like, in Clark’s opinion, a small core of inexplicable UFO sightings.) The former category, which Clark plainly finds the more intriguing—as do I—are things that can’t possibly exist in the usual sense of the word, and yet appear to be something more than products of witnesses’ imaginations. Genuine experiences, that is, of things that can’t genuinely be.

Take the “Great Airship Mystery” of 1896-97. This term refers to the numerous, seemingly reliable sightings, from many parts of the US, of a winged flying machine that can’t have existed. Yet it was on multiple occasions seen to land, its pilots encountered and conversed with. No small gray beings from distant galaxies, they. Rather, they appear in the reports as American inventors, on at least one occasion from New York State, often with an odd tendency to be named “Wilson.” The stories...[read on]
Among the early praise for Journal of a UFO Investigator:
“Halperin’s gripping debut is less about aliens than alienation. … This heartbreaking coming-of-age story of a boy losing and finding his way in this and other worlds will resonate with many readers.”
Publishers Weekly

“A thrilling romp through the domain of aliens and spacecraft, Halperin’s highly entertaining coming-of-age tale poses questions about the real and imagined and suggests that fusing the two might be the only way to survive adolescence.”

“[A]mbitious and wildly creative … a fascinating alchemy of fantasy, autobiography and the power of imagination.”
–Glenn McDonald, Raleigh News & Observer

Journal of a UFO Investigator is a remarkable book. Part science fiction, part novel of growing up, part surrealist voyage into the imagination, it is a disconcerting and satisfying experience.”
–Iain Pears, author of An Instance of the Fingerpost

“What’s in this book? What isn’t? History, mystery—even aliens, for God’s sake. The most compelling and original coming-of-age story I’ve read in a long time.”
–Daniel Wallace, author of Big Fish
Back in the 1960s, David Halperin was a teen-age UFO investigator. He later became a professor of religious studies—his specialty, religious traditions of heavenly ascent.

Learn more about Journal of a UFO Investigator at Halperin's website and blog (“my thoughts on UFOs, religion, the writer’s life, and other subjects dear to my heart”).

Watch a video trailer for Journal of a UFO Investigator.

The Page 69 Test: Journal of a UFO Investigator.

Writers Read: David Halperin.

--Marshal Zeringue

The 19 best-read American presidents

The Daily Beast "scoured biographies, presidential libraries, and available records to come up with [their] list of the presidents who were the most avid readers. The list is based on the size of their libraries, references to their reading habits, and what the types of books they read."

One president to make the top ten:
3. Thomas Jefferson

When the British burned the 3,000-volume Library of Congress, the president with a self-described “canine appetite for reading” stepped in. He immediately offered Congress between 9,000 and 10,000 volumes from his personal collection as a replacement—Congress ultimately took the entire collection, which amounted to 6,487. Jefferson read so copiously, even in languages like French, Italian, and Spanish, that he once designed a rotating bookstand that allowed him to consult five books at a time. He also devoted the latter years of his life to collecting, building relationships with every bookseller in New York and Philadelphia, along with many more across the Atlantic. For the range of his reading, he comes in third.
Read about another president on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pg. 69: Dave Zeltserman's "Outsourced"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Outsourced by Dave Zeltserman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Following on from his ultra noir trilogy – Small Crimes, Pariah and Killer - is Outsourced, Zeltserman's most commercial book to date. A classic heist thriller pitched somewhere between Ocean's Eleven and Dog Day Afternoon, it’s the story of a group of software engineers who lose their jobs due to an industry push to outsourcing. Desperate, and seeing their middle class lives crumbling apart, they come up with a brilliant plan to use their computing skills to rob a bank. But not even a systems analyst can foresee every eventuality, so the group falls foul of the Russian Mafia.
Learn more about the author and his work at Dave Zeltserman's website and blog.

Zeltserman is the author of ten novels, including Outsourced, Killer, Pariah, The Caretaker of Lorne Field, Small Crimes, and Blood Crimes, as well as many short stories and a collection of short crime fiction, 21 Tales.

My Book, The Movie: Small Crimes.

The Page 69 Test: Pariah.

The Page 69 Test: Outsourced.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: L. Layne, S. Vostral, and K. Boyer (eds), "Feminist Technology"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Feminist Technology edited by Linda L. Layne, Sharra L. Vostral, and Kate Boyer.

About the book, from the publisher:
A multi-voiced debate on technologies designed to improve women's lives

Is there such a thing as a "feminist technology"? If so, what makes a technology feminist? Is it in the design process, in the thing itself, in the way it is marketed, or in the way it is used by women (or by men)?

In this collection, feminist scholars trained in diverse fields consider these questions by examining a range of products, tools, and technologies that were specifically designed for and marketed to women. Evaluating the claims that such products are liberating for women, the contributors focus on case studies of menstrual-suppressing birth control pills, home pregnancy tests, tampons, breast pumps, Norplant, anti-fertility vaccines, and microbicides. In examining these various products, this volume explores ways of actively intervening to develop better tools for designing, promoting, and evaluating feminist technologies. Recognizing the different needs and desires of women and acknowledging the multiplicity of feminist approaches, Feminist Technology offers a sustained debate on existing and emergent technologies that share the goal of improving women's lives.
Learn more about Feminist Technology by following the blog at the University of Illinois website.

Visit Linda L. Layne's faculty webpage.

The Page 99 Test: Feminist Technology.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Michael David Lukas reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writers Read: Michael David Lukas, author of The Oracle of Stamboul.

His entry begins:
I finished Remembrance of Things Past—Marcel Proust’s thirty five hundred page, seven volume novel—just a few days ago. Ever since, I have been trying whenever possible to work it into conversation, without much success. Much like mountain climbers and scuba divers, readers of Proust will take any opportunity to introduce the topic of reading Proust. It’s hard not to talk about the mountain I just summited, even if such conversations almost invariably fall flat. For while there may in fact be many social situations that his work can illuminate, the words “that reminds me of a passage in Proust” are almost always followed by silence. And so, when offered the chance to write a few hundred words on the topic of what I have been reading lately, I jumped at the chance.

I had a similar feeling a bit more than a year ago, after...[read on]
Among the early praise for The Oracle of Stamboul:
“A lyrical debut…A passionate novel that beautifully conveys the flavor of Turkish culture…focusing on the effect a young prodigy has on the political leaders of the time.”
Kirkus Reviews

“An enchanting, gorgeous read…Lukas captures the scents and sounds, the vivid beauty, the subtle intrigue and simultaneous naivety, of the Ottoman Empire unaware of its imminent demise.”
—Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men are Gone

“A stunning debut…Lukas has managed to create an instant classic that feels as if it should be retroactively slipped into the great libraries of the old world.”
—Reif Larsen, author of The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

“The exotic sights and sounds of nineteenth-century Turkey spring vividly to life in Lukas’ promising debut.”
Booklist (starred review)

“Michael David Lukas charms in his debut.”
Vanity Fair
Learn more about the book and author at Michael David Lukas' website.

Writers Read: Michael David Lukas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Reading list: revolutions

For the Independent, Alice-Azania Jarvis came up with a short reading list on revolutions.

One work of history on her list:
The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848 by Eric Hobsbawm

The first installment of his four-part epic chronicling Europe from 1789 to 1991, Age Of Revolution is a classic in its field. It explores the manifold changes wrought during the period – which witnessed both the British Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution – and demonstrates how Europe established its place as the pre-eminent global power of the era.
Read about the novel on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ellen Byerrum's "Shot Through Velvet," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Shot Through Velvet by Ellen Byerrum.

The entry begins:
The dream cast for the movie? Ahhh. Contemplating the possibility of having our books made for the silver screen is something writers love to indulge in, if only in our daydreams. But I don’t think about movies much these days because first, I’m in the middle of writing my next mystery, and second, two of my Crime of Fashion Mysteries were already made into films, which aired during the summer of 2009 on the Lifetime Movie Network. Killer Hair and Hostile Makeover were also tossed into the schedule once last year, but I had no advance notice to alert people.

A dream cast? I had a great cast for the TV movies, including Maggie Lawson as my Washington DC reporter Lacey Smithsonian; and Victor Webster, who played her love interest Vic Donovan. Some people claimed he was too handsome to play Vic, which is preposterous. How could anyone be too handsome?

However, when I write, I don’t usually think about actors playing my characters. I have a pretty clear idea of who they are, what they look like, and how they respond. I don’t want to be limited by writing with a specific actor in mind. It’s too easy to get stuck on a particular actor’s range and personality—and limitations. I want my characters to be free to keep surprising me, and they do.

With one exception: Harlan Wiedemeyer, the “death & dismemberment beat” reporter in my books. Harlan features in my latest book Shot Through Velvet (just released!), when he and Lacey discover a dead body together. Harlan is...[read on]
Visit Ellen Byerrum's website and blog.

Writers Read: Ellen Byerrum.

My Book, The Movie: Shot Through Velvet.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Paul Giles's "The Global Remapping of American Literature"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: The Global Remapping of American Literature by Paul Giles.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book charts how the cartographies of American literature as an institutional category have varied radically across different times and places. Arguing that American literature was consolidated as a distinctively nationalist entity only in the wake of the U.S. Civil War, Paul Giles identifies this formation as extending until the beginning of the Reagan presidency in 1981. He contrasts this with the more amorphous boundaries of American culture in the eighteenth century, and with ways in which conditions of globalization at the turn of the twenty-first century have reconfigured the parameters of the subject.

In light of these fluctuating conceptions of space, Giles suggests new ways of understanding the shifting territory of American literary history. ranging from Cotton Mather to David Foster Wallace, and from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to Zora Neale Hurston. Giles considers why European medievalism and Native American prehistory were crucial to classic nineteenth-century authors such as Emerson, Hawthorne, and Melville. He discusses how twentieth-century technological innovations, such as air travel, affected representations of the national domain in the texts of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. And he analyzes how regional projections of the South and the Pacific Northwest helped to shape the work of writers such as William Gilmore Simms, José Martí, Elizabeth Bishop, and William Gibson.

Bringing together literary analysis, political history, and cultural geography, The Global Remapping of American Literature reorients the subject for the transnational era.
Read an excerpt from The Global Remapping of American Literature, and learn more about the book at the Princeton University Press website.

Paul Giles is the Challis Professor of English at the University of Sydney. His many books include Atlantic Republic and Virtual Americas.

The Page 99 Test: The Global Remapping of American Literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

David L. Ulin's 6 favorite books

David L. Ulin is book critic of the Los Angeles Times. He is the editor of the award-winning anthology Writing Los Angeles and author of The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time.

He named his six favorite books for The Week magazine. One title on the list:
Almost Dead by Assaf Gavron

A black comedy about suicide bombing, in which a 30-something Israeli survives three attacks in one week and becomes a national symbol of resilience. The moral heart of the novel, through, resides in a second protagonist, a conflicted Palestinian terrorist lost in the depths of coma sleep: His dream-like memories make palpable both his reluctance and complicity.
Read about another book on Ulin's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Craig McDonald reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Craig McDonald, the Edgar®/Anthony nominated author of Head Games, Toros & Torsos, Print the Legend, and One True Sentence.

His entry begins:
My reading time has become alarmingly scarce the past several months between fulltime journalism, evening and weekend fiction writing/book touring, and the pending release of two novels this calendar year.

Consequently, I’ve been squeezing in quick reads of books related to or feeding my own works-in-progress, or regarding personalities that touch on things I’m toying with in some way.

At the moment, I have four books going simultaneously.

• I’m re-exploring the uneasy, at times mutually destructive, friendship of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway as told by Matthew J. Bruccoli in Fitzgerald and Hemingway: A Dangerous Friendship.

• At the same time, I’m slowly making my way through the don’t-drop-it-on-your-foot, massive...[read on]
Among the early praise for One True Sentence:
"Vivid, remarkable characters--the historical people as well-drawn as the fictional ones!--in a rich, evocative setting, and a gruesome serial killer with one of the most unusual motives ever. Absolutely gripping!"
--Diana Gabaldon, New York Times bestselling author of the Outlander series

“Craig McDonald proves he is a master of literary suspense in this riveting historical thriller set in the 1920s Paris of Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. Complex protagonists, shocking murders, and a gripping tale will leave you wanting more.”
--Stefanie Pintoff, Edgar-award winning author of A Curtain Falls

"Nobody does mad pulp history like Craig McDonald. Reading a Hector Lassiter novel is like having a great uncle pull you aside, pour you a tumbler of rye, and tell you a story about how the 20th century really went down."
--Duane Swierczynski, author of Expiration Date

"A finely-crafted pulp historical mystery…While McDonald plucks your heartstrings, his wily hero Hector Lassiter will pound out a drum roll on your short ribs, and yes, you actually will be thankful for the experience."
--Tom Piccirilli, author of Shadow Season
Learn more about the author and his work at Craig McDonald's website and blog.

Read "The Story Behind the Story: One True Sentence, by Craig McDonald" at The Rap Sheet.

The Page 69 Test: Toros & Torsos.

The Page 69 Test: Head Games.

The Page 69 Test: Print the Legend.

My Book, The Movie: Print the Legend.

The Page 69 Test: One True Sentence.

Writers Read: Craig McDonald.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: David Halperin's "Journal of a UFO Investigator"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Journal of a UFO Investigator by David Halperin.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sparkling debut novel set in the sixties about a boy's emotional and fantastical journey through alien worlds and family pain.

Against the backdrop of the troubled 1960s, this coming-of-age novel weaves together a compelling psychological drama and vivid outer-space fantasy. Danny Shapiro is an isolated teenager, living with a dying mother and a hostile father and without friends. To cope with these circumstances, Danny forges a reality of his own, which includes the sinister "Three Men in Black", mysterious lake creatures with insectlike carapaces, a beautiful young seductress and thief with whom Danny falls in love, and an alien/human love child who-if only Danny can keep her alive-will redeem the planet. Danny's fictional world blends so seamlessly with his day-to-day life that profound questions about what is real and what is not, what is possible and what is imagined begin to arise. As the hero in his alien landscape, he finds the strength to deal with his own life and to stand up to demons both real and imagined. Told with heart and intellect, Journal of a UFO Investigator will remind readers of the works of Michael Chabon and Jonathan Lethem.
Learn more about Journal of a UFO Investigator at David Halperin's website and blog (“my thoughts on UFOs, religion, the writer’s life, and other subjects dear to my heart”).

Watch a video trailer for Journal of a UFO Investigator.

The Page 69 Test: Journal of a UFO Investigator.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ten of the best: fictional poets

For the Guardian, John Mullan named ten of the best fictional poets.

One entry on the list:
John Shade

Shade is the author of a partly autobiographical 999-line poem called "Pale Fire", which features in the novel of the same name by Vladimir Nabokov. Missing its final thousanth line, it is copiously annotated by Charles Kinbote, a former neighbour of the poet. It becomes evident from these notes that Shade has been murdered in a plot involving a foreign assassin.
Read about another book on the list.

Pale Fire is one of Tracy Kidder's six best books as well as the novel Charles Storch would save for last. It is one of "Six Memorable Books About Writers Writing" yet it disappointed Ha Jin upon rereading.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Richard Arum & Josipa Roksa's "Academically Adrift"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa.

About the book, from the publisher:
In spite of soaring tuition costs, more and more students go to college every year. A bachelor’s degree is now required for entry into a growing number of professions. And some parents begin planning for the expense of sending their kids to college when they’re born. Almost everyone strives to go, but almost no one asks the fundamental question posed by Academically Adrift: are undergraduates really learning anything once they get there?

For a large proportion of students, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s answer to that question is a definitive no. Their extensive research draws on survey responses, transcript data, and, for the first time, the state-of-the-art Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test administered to students in their first semester and then again at the end of their second year. According to their analysis of more than 2,300 undergraduates at twenty-four institutions, 45 percent of these students demonstrate no significant improvement in a range of skills—including critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing—during their first two years of college. As troubling as their findings are, Arum and Roksa argue that for many faculty and administrators they will come as no surprise—instead, they are the expected result of a student body distracted by socializing or working and an institutional culture that puts undergraduate learning close to the bottom of the priority list.

Academically Adrift holds sobering lessons for students, faculty, administrators, policy makers, and parents—all of whom are implicated in promoting or at least ignoring contemporary campus culture. Higher education faces crises on a number of fronts, but Arum and Roksa’s report that colleges are failing at their most basic mission will demand the attention of us all.
Read an excerpt from Academically Adrift, and learn more about the book at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Academically Adrift.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Ben Tarnoff reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Ben Tarnoff is the author of Moneymakers: The Wicked Lives and Surprising Adventures of Three Notorious Counterfeiters.

His entry begins:
While writing Moneymakers, I was reading history all day. Which meant the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was to read more history. Instead, I began reading fiction. Historical fiction, mostly: books like Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Caleb Carr's The Alienist. Also science fiction, which is kind of like historical fiction in reverse, like Samuel Delany's Dhalgren. The more I read, the more I realized how much novelists and historians have in common. Both try to create a credible world for their characters to inhabit. Both use memory in interesting ways: the historian tries to retrieve memories of the historical past, while the novelist draws on memories from his or her personal past. Around this time I read...[read on]
Among the early praise for Moneymakers:
"What an ingenious idea for a book and what a rousing story! A truly gifted writer, Ben Tarnoff has brought to life three unforgettable characters while at the same time providing a window onto the tumultuous financial situation that characterized early American life."
–Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals

"Ben Tarnoff captures the wild early years of America's financial system through a delightful angle: the escapades of three counterfeiters. It's a colorful tale but also an enlightening one. It helps us understand our financial culture back then—and even today."
–Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

"I've always had a soft spot in my heart for counterfeiters, ever since my father, a Secret Service agent, told me stories about how hard it was to catch them. Tarnoff tells the story of three colorful and almost lovable practitioners of the trade, in prose that is always accessible and sometimes downright lyrical. Along the way he drove me to the conclusion that all paper money is sorta fake. Tarnoff himself strikes me as the genuine article. I welcome his voice to that tiny chorus of writers who can make American history come alive without dumbing it down."
–Joseph J. Ellis, author of Founding Brothers and First Family: Abigail and John
Read an excerpt from Moneymakers, and learn more about the book and author at Ben Tarnoff's website.

The Page 99 Test: Moneymakers.

Writers Read: Ben Tarnoff.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pg. 69: Kelly Simmons's "The Bird House"

This weekend's feature at the Page 69 Test: The Bird House by Kelly Simmons.

About the book, from Publishers Weekly:
Simmons (Standing Still) smoothly shifts between past and present in her complex and poignant second novel, told from the point of view of a courageous woman suffering from dementia. Ann Biddle, a venerable Main Line lady, may have trouble remembering current dates and times, but she clearly remembers the details of her daughter's death, her troubled marriage, and the man who has always truly loved her. When a school project gives Ann the opportunity to spend time with her eight-year-old granddaughter, Ellie, Ann is determined not to allow Tinsley, her controlling daughter-in-law, to sabotage their burgeoning relationship, even if it means a little extortion. By the end, Ann can declare: "We had our own constitution now, our little family, built on a solid foundation of lies, secrets, regrets, and debts. But even dark underpinnings can support something solid and light, can they not?" Enthralled readers will agree.
Learn more about the book and author at Kelly Simmons' website and blog.

Simmons is a former journalist and current novelist/advertising creative director. Her first novel, Standing Still debuted in February 2009.

The Page 69 Test: Standing Still.

My Book, The Movie: Standing Still.

Writers Read: Kelly Simmons.

The Page 69 Test: The Bird House.

--Marshal Zeringue