Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Peter Mountford's "A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism by Peter Mountford.

The entry begins:
As it happens, I was having this very conversation with the film producer Anne Carey and the Chilean director Pablo Larrain a couple of weeks ago. They are interested in developing this book for film, and we were talking about the challenges of casting over breakfast. Or, actually, breakfasts plural—I met them at the same restaurant in Chelsea at the same time of day on two different days. I sat in the same chair, ordered the same thing.

Certainly the character of Fiona would be easy and fun to cast. I think Parker Posey would be perfect. But it’s a role that any number of women could have a lot of fun with. Fiona’s fun because she’s tough as nails, smart, and has a kind of macho sexuality about her, but is also intensely vulnerable.

Lenka, Gabriel’s love-interest, who is the press-liaison to then-president-elect Evo Morales, is harder. The problem is that the person would have to speak Spanish fluently and it would be nice if she looked...[read on]
View a trailer for the novel, and learn more about the book and author at Peter Mountford's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism.

My Book, The Movie: A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Steven Sidor reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Steven Sidor, author of Pitch Dark.

His entry begins:
I’m a person who reads multiple books at once, usually four or five. I rotate them throughout the day.

Right now I’m reading Robert Beattie’s Nightmare in Wichita: The Hunt for the BTK Strangler. Along with the Zodiac Killer and the Original Night Stalker, BTK was the scariest of the unknown killers out there. Beattie’s book may have spurred BTK to resurface in 2004 and led to his eventual capture.

Karl Taro Greenfeld’s China Syndrome: The True Story of the 21st Century’s First Great Epidemic is a gripping and truly frightening account of the 2003 SARS outbreak in China. The story is as much about an emerging China as it is about a mysterious virus. This one’s my bedtime book.

I’m rereading Tim...[read on]
Among the early praise for Pitch Dark:
Pitch Dark is a propulsive, layered, and brutal read.... A reader can't hope for more than to discover a writer possessed of both true talent and true passion. Discover Steven Sidor."
—Michael Koryta, author of The Cypress House

"Pitch Dark is as relentlessly suspenseful as any crime novel you’ve ever read, but at the same time it’s as scary as the best horror stories ... kept me up half the night—and when I did go to bed, I left the lights on."
—Robert Masello, author of The Medusa Amulet

"Sidor does a fine job at keeping readers in the dark as to who among the good guys might really be bad. And his flair for suspense and intrigue help readers through the book’s violent and sadistic acts, which include animal decapitations, random kills and spilling enough blood of its citizens to coat the town of American Rapids in red. His writing can turn poetic. In describing the face of evil, he writes, “the profile of a pharaoh, olive-skinned and regal, with eyes of pure ebony,” making you take pause to appreciate his prose even during a blood-curdling moment.... Sidor has a clever way of making readers volley back and forth on who they think is among the devil-worshipping team. The book’s end is fast-paced and will have readers racing through the pages to find out what fates awaits the characters and if The Pitch and his followers will be destroyed...."
Denise I. O'Neal, Chicago Sun-Times
Visit Steven Sidor's website and blog.

Sidor is the author of the critically-acclaimed dark thrillers Skin River, Bone Factory, and The Mirror’s Edge. His new novel of terror is Pitch Dark.

The Page 69 Test: Steven Sidor's The Mirror’s Edge.

Writers Read: Steven Sidor.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best novels featuring revolutionaries

Joseph Epstein is the author, most recently, of The Love Song of A. Jerome Minkoff: And Other Stories.

For the Wall Street Journal he named a five best list of novels featuring revolutionaries, including:
The Princess Casamassima
by Henry James (1886)

This is sometimes thought to be Henry James's political novel, but it is more his antipolitical novel. Hyacinth Robinson is an orphan, the child of an aristocratic father and a working-class mother who dies in childbirth. A natural candidate for a life in radical politics, he joins a revolutionary group, promising to sacrifice himself for a greater cause. On a trip to Venice, he becomes disillusioned. He realizes, as James puts it, that something greater than politics explains the world: "The figures on the chessboard were still the passions and jealousies and superstitions and stupidities of man, and thus positioned with regard to each other, at any given moment, could be of interest only to the grim invisible fates who played the game—who sat, through the ages, bow-backed over the table." As for the people, Madame Grandoni, another character in the novel, says: "An honorable nature, of any class, I always respect; but I won't pretend to a passion for the ignorant masses, for I have it not." Neither did James; nor should you or I.
Read about another book on the list.

The Princess Casamassima is one of Arch Puddington's five best books on labor.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Gary Scott Smith's "Heaven in the American Imagination"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Heaven in the American Imagination by Gary Scott Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
Does heaven exist? If so, what is it like? And how does one get in? Throughout history, painters, poets, philosophers, pastors, and many ordinary people have pondered these questions. Perhaps no other topic captures the popular imagination quite like heaven.

Gary Scott Smith examines how Americans from the Puritans to the present have imagined heaven. He argues that whether Americans have perceived heaven as reality or fantasy, as God's home or a human invention, as a source of inspiration and comfort or an opiate that distracts from earthly life, or as a place of worship or a perpetual playground has varied largely according to the spirit of the age. In the colonial era, conceptions of heaven focused primarily on the glory of God. For the Victorians, heaven was a warm, comfortable home where people would live forever with their family and friends. Today, heaven is often less distinctively Christian and more of a celestial entertainment center or a paradise where everyone can reach his full potential.

Drawing on an astounding array of sources, including works of art, music, sociology, psychology, folklore, liturgy, sermons, poetry, fiction, jokes, and devotional books, Smith paints a sweeping, provocative portrait of what Americans-from Jonathan Edwards to Mitch Albom-have thought about heaven.
Learn more about Heaven in the American Imagination at the Oxford University Press website.

Gary Scott Smith chairs the History Department at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania.

The Page 99 Test: Heaven in the American Imagination.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pg. 69: Diane Janes's "Why Didn't You Come for Me?"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Why Didn't You Come for Me? by Diane Janes.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sometimes Jo still wakes up suddenly, thinking she can hear Lauren's cry. Although twelve years have passed since her baby daughter was abducted, photos of the child continue to arrive by post with the words I still have her scrawled on the back. The police think it's a hoax, but Jo has always believed them to be genuine—and until there is some hard evidence to the contrary, she will always hold on to the belief that Lauren is still alive. Bit if the pictures really do come from the kidnapper, it means they have been keeping track of Jo's movements all these years. Recently Jo has begun to feel as if she is being watched—and that whoever has her daughter is getting closer. Is Jo's husband right to dismiss her fears as paranoia, or might Jo herself be in danger? As her life begins to unravel, Jo fears that the truth may lie in the half-forgotten distant past, scarred by rumors of insanity and murder.
Learn more about the book and author at Diane Janes's website.

Janes is a full time author, who lives and writes in the English Lake District. Prior to be accepted for publication she was shortlisted twice for the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger and her first novel The Pull of the Moon was a finalist for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger in 2010.

The Page 69 Test: Why Didn't You Come for Me?.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five masterpiece stories that worked as films

At The Daily Beast, Jane Ciabattari named "five masterpieces of fiction that also worked as films, with varying degrees of tinkering by the filmmakers," including:
The English Patient

A plane crash in the desert, a nurse, a patient. Michael Ondaatje’s 1992 novel The English Patient begins with these basics and circles around clues to the mysteries and identities of four characters thrown together as if by chance in an abandoned Italian villa near Florence as World War II comes to an end: Hana, a young French-Canadian nurse scarred by loss; her patient, a dying man burned badly in a plane crash in the Sahara who seems not to know who he is; Kip, a Sikh sapper in the British Army who works to rid the area of mines and falls in love with Hana; and Caravaggio, a Canadian thief turned intelligence officer with ruined hands (his thumbs were sliced off during interrogation by the Nazis in Cairo). He suspects the patient may not be as innocent as Hana thinks he is.

In his screenplay for the 1996 film, Anthony Minghella, who also directed, simplified the characters, eliminated a series of side stories, including Caravaggio’s relationship with Hana’s father in Montreal and Kip’s training in disarming bombs in England, and changed the ending. It’s still a story with dozens of intruiguing digressions, from archeological finds to Bedouin healing arts to spycraft.

The film is a masterpiece of editing, a complex story told with dozens of time transitions as it traces the gradual unfolding of the patient’s memories of North Africa, where he was part of an international group engaged in mapping the Sahara. His well-thumbed copy of Herodotus, with its intriguing mementos inside, underscores the historic context. But it’s the artful telling of the patient’s tragic love affair with a married Englishwoman and the retaliation by her cuckolded husband, that makes this an Academy Award-winning film. (The English Patient won nine Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director.) Not to mention the superb cast: Ralph Fiennes as the patient, Kristin Scott Thomas as his lover Katherine, Colin Firth as her husband, Willem Dafoe as Caravaggio, Naveen Andrews as Kip, and Juliette Binoche, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance, as Hana.
Read about another novel on the list.

The English Patient also made John Mullan's list of ten of the best deserts in literature.

Also see: Best book to film adaptations.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Will Allison reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writer's Read: Will Allison, author of Long Drive Home.

His entry begins:
I've been catching up on the latest work of some writers I'm fortunate enough to call friends.

I'm about halfway through Andrew Foster Altschul's new novel, Deus Ex Machina, a behind-the-scenes story of a fictional reality show. It's as brilliant and confidently written and funny and ambitious as Andrew's first novel, Lady Lazurus, which blew me away.

Before that...[read on]
Among the early praise for Long Drive Home:
"Like a nightmare that gets scarier and scarier as the hyperrealistic details mount, Will Allison's psychological thriller Long Drive Home can shake you up ... But while wondering whether Glen will get arrested is what keeps you turning pages, Allison's eye for the details of marriage and fatherhood, and his deconstruction of what can happen when a good guy makes one false move, are what will break your heart."
--O: The Oprah Magazine

"A gripping morality tale that raises questions about race, conscience and the responsibilities of parenthood." A People Pick.
--People Magazine

"A moment of pique has life-and-death consequences in this suspenseful, finely etched novel." A Parade Pick.
--Parade Magazine

"While narrowly focusing his lens on the event and its consequences, Mr. Allison still manages to take in a panorama of human behavior... Mr. Allison’s gift is in making [his protagonist's] lie — and each new one it inevitably spawns — understandable, showing how this story could be anyone’s."
--New York Times

"Allison focuses on the brutally quick unraveling of Glen’s peaceful existence, filling the reader with not only dread but also the desire to discover what terrible--or hopeful--development awaits on the next page."
--Entertainment Weekly
Learn more about the book and author at Will Allison's website.

The Page 69 Test: Long Drive Home.

Writer's Read: Will Allison.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pg. 99: Edward Humes's "Force of Nature"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Force of Nature: The Unlikely Story of Wal-Mart's Green Revolution by Edward Humes.

About the book, from the publisher:
What happens when a renowned river guide teams up with the CEO of one of the largest and least Earth-friendly corporations in the world? When it's former Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott and white-water expert turned sustainability consultant Jib Ellison, the result is nothing less than a green business revolution.

Wal-Mart—long the target of local businesses, labor advocates, and environmentalists who deplore its outsourced, big-box methods—has embraced an unprecedented green makeover, which is now spreading worldwide. The retail giant that rose from Sam Walton's Ozarks dime store is leveraging the power of 200 million weekly customers to drive waste, toxics, and carbon emissions out of its stores and products. Neither an act of charity nor an empty greenwash, Wal-Mart's green move reflects its river guide's simple, compelling philosophy: that the most sustainable, clean, energy-efficient, and waste-free company will beat its competitors every time. Not just in some distant, utopian future but today.

From energy conservation, recycling, and hybrid trucks to reduced packaging and partnerships with environmentalists it once met only in court, Wal-Mart has used sustainability to boost its bottom line even in a tough economy—belying the age-old claim that going green kills jobs and profits. Now the global apparel business, the American dairy industry, big agriculture, and even Wall Street are following Wal-Mart's lead, along with the 100,000 manufacturers whose products must become more sustainable to remain on Wal-Mart's shelves. Here Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author Edward Humes charts the course of this unlikely second industrial revolution, in which corporate titans who once believed profit and planet must be at odds are learning that the best business just may be a force of nature.
Learn more about the book and author at Edward Humes's website.

In addition to Force of Nature, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes is the author of ten other nonfiction books.

The Page 69 Test: Edward Humes's Monkey Girl.

Humes's Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet was one of the top ten environmental books of 2009.

Writers Read: Edward Humes.

The Page 99 Test: Force of Nature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jonathan Evison's 6 favorite books

Jonathan Evison is the author of All About Lulu, which won the Washington State Book Award. In 2009, he was the recipient of a Richard Buckley Fellowship from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation.

His new novel is West of Here.

For The Week magazine, Evison named his six favorite books.

One novel on his list:
Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan

Clever bugs me. Even Kurt Vonnegut, whom I hold dear to my heart, can get on my nerves when he can’t resist his own cleverness. Brautigan is different. The dude couldn’t seem to help it. It didn’t feel like he was showing off. Beneath his goofy sensibility and stoned wit lies a clear-eyed moral vision that reminds me of Whitman’s.
Read about another novel on the list.

Jeff Noon called Trout Fishing in America the "best ever novel about trout fishing in America."

The Page 99 Test: Jonathan Evison's All About Lulu.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Adam Mitzner reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writers Read: Adam Mitzner, author of A Conflict of Interest.

His entry begins:
I just finished The King of Lies by John Hart, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I'm always interested in reading thrillers with complex characters, as that's what I'm trying to achieve in my writing.

I also recently read...[read on]
Among the early praise for A Conflict of Interest:
"This gifted writer should have a long and successful career ahead of him."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A capably written, well-plotted legal thriller... A solid debut effort, definitely recommendable to legal-thriller readers."

"A heady combination of Patricia Highsmith and Scott Turow, here's psychological and legal suspense at its finest. Adam Mitzner's masterful plotting begins on tiptoe and morphs into a sweaty gallop, with ambiguity of character that shakes your best guesses, and twists that punch you in the gut. This novel packs it. A terrific read!"
New York Times bestselling author Perri O'Shaughnessy

"...a page-turner with deeply flawed heroes, sympathetic villains and totally unexpected twists."
—Alan Dershowitz, author of Trials of Zion
Learn more about the book and author at Adam Mitzner's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Conflict of Interest.

Writers Read: Adam Mitzner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jason Goodwin's "An Evil Eye," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: An Evil Eye by Jason Goodwin.

The entry begins:
I just got back from a book tour through the USA, much enlivened by the company of my 17-year-old son. Bars were out, so we downloaded some movies to watch in the hotel.

No Country for Old Men was one I'd missed (to be honest I miss 'em all these days, and we have no TV). It was, I seemed to remember, a sensitive portrayal of Southern life starring George Clooney. Where could we go wrong?

We watched No Country for about forty minutes, until it became so frightening we agreed to switch off, and just read some thrillers before lights-out. George had so far failed to appear.

After that, every night, we watched another ten minutes or so of the movie. I think we were hyper-sensitive because the film is really all about the creepiness of American hotels. Plus no reassuring George. Clooney isn't in No Country for Old Men, at all. My mistake.

Only there were scorching performances by the whole cast - and the magnificent...[read on]
Learn more about Jason Goodwin and his work at his website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Snake Stone.

The Page 69 Test: The Bellini Card.

My Book, The Movie: An Evil Eye.

--Marshal Zeringue

Antonio Carluccio's 6 favorite books

Antonio Carluccio became the manager of Terence Conran's Neal Street Restaurant in Covent Garden in 1981, and became its owner in 1989. (Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef, got his professional start under Carluccio at the restaurant, which is now closed.)

Carluccio has written over a dozen books on Italian cuisine and mushrooms, and appeared on television in the BBC's Food and Drink Programme, and in his own series Antonio Carluccio's Italian Feasts in 1996. In 2011 his travels around Italy were filmed for the BBC series Two Greedy Italians.

For The Daily Express he named his six favorite books.

One title on the list:
Gulliver’s Travels
by Jonathan Swift

My favourite book as a child was Gulliver’s Travels. It’s a classic children’s book, and despite being written more than 250 years ago, is as popular as ever. A timeless read, I’d recommend it to every parent.
Read about another book on the list.

Gulliver's Travels appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best vegetables in literature; it is one of Neil deGrasse Tyson's 5 most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Will Allison's "Long Drive Home"

This weekend's feature at the Page 69 Test: Long Drive Home by Will Allison.

About the book, from the publisher:
In his riveting new novel, Will Allison, critically acclaimed author of What You Have Left, crafts an emotional and psychological drama that explores the moral ambiguities of personal responsibility as it chronicles a father's attempt to explain himself to his daughter—even though he knows that in doing so, he risks losing her.

Life can change in an instant because of one small mistake. For Glen Bauer, all it takes is a quick jerk of the steering wheel, intended to scare a reckless driver. But the reckless driver is killed, and just like that, Glen's placid suburban existence begins to unravel.

Written in part as a confessional letter from Glen to his daughter, Sara, Long Drive Home evokes the sharp-eyed observation of Tom Perrotta and the pathos of Dan Chaon in its trenchant portrait of contemporary American life.

When Glen realizes no one else saw the accident, he impulsively lies about what happened—to the police, to his wife, even to Sara, who was in the backseat at the time of the crash. But a tenacious detective thinks Sara might have seen more than she knows, or more than her parents will let her tell. And when Glen tries to prevent the detective from questioning Sara, he finds himself in a high-stakes cat-and-mouse game that could end in a lawsuit or prison. What he doesn't see coming is the reaction of his wife, Liz—a panicked plan that threatens to tear their family apart in the name of saving it.

But what if the accident wasn't really Glen's fault? What if someone else were to blame for the turn his life has taken? It's a question Glen can't let go of. And as he struggles to understand the extent of his own guilt, he finds himself on yet another collision course, different in kind but with the potential to be equally devastating. Long Drive Home is a stunning cautionary tale of unintended consequences that confirms Will Allison's growing reputation as a rising literary talent.
Learn more about the book and author at Will Allison's website.

The Page 69 Test: Long Drive Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pg. 99: Stacey Peebles's "Welcome to the Suck"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Welcome to the Suck: Narrating the American Soldier's Experience in Iraq by Stacey Peebles.

About the book, from the publisher:
Our collective memories of World War II and Vietnam have been shaped as much by memoirs, novels, and films as they have been by history books. In Welcome to the Suck, Stacey Peebles examines the growing body of contemporary war stories in prose, poetry, and film that speak to the American soldier’s experience in the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War.

Stories about war always encompass ideas about initiation, masculinity, cross-cultural encounters, and trauma. Peebles shows us how these timeless themes find new expression among a generation of soldiers who have grown up in a time when it has been more acceptable than ever before to challenge cultural and societal norms, and who now have unprecedented and immediate access to the world away from the battlefield through new media and technology.

Two Gulf War memoirs by Anthony Swofford (Jarhead) and Joel Turnipseed (Baghdad Express) provide a portrait of soldiers living and fighting on the cusp of the major political and technological changes that would begin in earnest just a few years later. The Iraq War, a much longer conflict, has given rise to more and various representations. Peebles covers a blog by Colby Buzzell (“My War”), memoirs by Nathaniel Fick (One Bullet Away) and Kayla Williams (Love My Rifle More Than You); a collection of stories by John Crawford (The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell); poetry by Brian Turner (Here, Bullet); the documentary Alive Day Memories; and the feature films In the Valley of Elah and the winner of the 2010 Oscar for Best Picture, The Hurt Locker, both written by the war correspondent Mark Boal.

Books and other media emerging from the conflicts in the Gulf have yet to receive the kind of serious attention that Vietnam War texts received during the 1980s and 1990s. With its thoughtful and timely analysis, Welcome to the Suck will provoke much discussion among those who wish to understand today’s war literature and films and their place in the tradition of war representation more generally.
Read more about Welcome to the Suck at the Cornell University Press website.

Stacey Peebles is Assistant Director of the Lloyd International Honors College, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

The Page 99 Test: Welcome to the Suck.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Edward Humes reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writers Read: Edward Humes, author of Force of Nature: The Unlikely Story of Wal-Mart's Green Revolution.

His entry begins:
I loved reading Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the story of a poor, dying black woman whose cancerous cells, taken without payment or consent, live on to power medical advances, scientific studies, and the fortunes of endless entrepreneurs and mega-corporations. Skloot’s book does what great narrative nonfiction must do: Surprise us, outrage us, move us and make us care about something we never even knew existed. (Did you know, for instance, that you have so little legal right to your own tissues that someone else can take them, patent them and sell them without your permission? I didn’t.) I was...[read on]
Among the early praise for Force of Nature:
“The idea that 'going green' could actually be profitable, a notion put forth by economists as long as 20 years ago, remains a source of skepticism in some quarters. If you still need convincing, pick up Edward Humes’s excellent new book, 'Force of Nature'.... Mr. Humes does here what the very best business books do. He finds a good story to help illuminate an issue of surpassing importance.... Mr. Humes’s prose is almost flawless, lean and clear, egoless and spare. He doesn’t deify or demonize Wal-Mart or any of the characters; in fact, he says Wal-Mart’s very business model is probably unsustainable. This is first-rate work — both by the author and by Wal-Mart itself.”
--Bryan Burrough, New York Times

“Walmart’s revolution in turning waste and harm into wealth and health is one of the most important stories of corporate leadership in modern history. Force of Nature clearly and powerfully assembles many of the strands of that fascinating story. Every executive, and every citizen seeking to influence business, should read it.”
--Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute

"Humes was privy to this story no one has yet told and he tells that story masterfully.”
--Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder of Seventh Generation

“Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Humes offers a stirring story of how ecologically responsible practices are increasingly benefiting the bottom line... A fascinating, fair-minded look at the congruence between environmentalism and business, and the behemoth at the intersection.”
--Publishers Weekly

A "fascinating story of the evolution of corporate responsibility for the environment."
Learn more about the book and author at Edward Humes's website.

The Page 69 Test: Edward Humes's Monkey Girl.

Humes's Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet was one of the top ten environmental books of 2009.

Writers Read: Edward Humes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best books on the Second World War

Richard Snow, the former editor of American Heritage magazine, is the author, most recently, of A Measureless Peril: America in the Fight for the Atlantic, the Longest Battle of World War II.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named five essential books on World War II, including:
The Duel
by John Lukacs (1990)

The formidably productive Hungarian-born historian John Lukacs has published several fine books about World War II, but "The Duel" might be his most gripping. It is richly written, relatively short and full of suspense even though we know how the story ends. It opens on May 10, 1940, with the French army dissolving before the German onslaught and Winston Churchill just made prime minister. "We do not know what Hitler thought of the news from London when he retired for the night," writes Lukacs, but "it seems that he did not yet wholly comprehend how, beneath and beyond the great war of armies and navies and entire peoples that he had now started in Western Europe, he would be involved in something like a hand-to-hand duel with Churchill." For a little while, the fate of the world depended upon which of two leaders better understood the other. Hitler was usually a shrewd assessor of his opponents, but he underestimated this one, and although the 80-day span Lukacs illuminates is the merest antechamber to the terrible years that lie ahead, by the end of it Churchill has won and, with him, Western civilization.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pg. 99: Michelle Au's "This Won't Hurt a Bit"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: This Won't Hurt a Bit: And Other White Lies - My Education in Medicine and Motherhood by Michelle Au.

About the book, from the publisher:
Michelle Au started medical school armed only with a surfeit of idealism, a handful of old ER episodes for reference, and some vague notion about "helping people."

This Won't Hurt a Bit is the story of how she grew up and became a real doctor.

It's a no-holds-barred account of what a modern medical education feels like, from the grim to the ridiculous, from the heartwarming to the obscene. Unlike most medical memoirs, however, this one details the author's struggles to maintain a life outside of the hospital, in the small amount of free time she had to live it. And, after she and her husband have a baby early in both their medical residencies, Au explores the demands of being a parent with those of a physician, two all-consuming jobs in which the lives of others are very literally in her hands.

Au's stories range from hilarious to heartbreaking and hit every note in between, proving more than anything that the creation of a new doctor (and a new parent) is far messier, far more uncertain, and far more gratifying than one could ever expect.
Learn more about the book and author at Michelle Au's website and blog.

Michelle Au graduated from Wellesley College in 1999, received her M.D. from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2003, and completed her residency in anesthesiology at the Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan.

The Page 99 Test: This Won't Hurt a Bit.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Thomas Perry reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writer's Read: Thomas Perry, author of The Informant.

His entry begins:
Last Sunday I was on a panel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books with Don Winslow. I hadn't seen him since another event last November, and I remembered how much I liked his work, from Cool Breeze on the Underground to The Power of the Dog.

I'm pretty busy much of the time, and while I was at the festival I remembered I hadn't gotten around to reading Savages. So I got him to sign a copy for me, and read it on the airplane the past two days on a short trip to San Francisco. I thought it was very, very good (no criticisms), and I was...[read on]
Among the early praise for The Informant:
"A book-length war of nerves that accentuates the best of Mr. Perry’s gift for using pure logic and gamesmanship to generate breathless nonstop suspense..."The Informant" is a marvel of tight, thoughtful construction."
––Janet Maslin, New York Times

"I've said elsewhere that Thomas Perry's novels -- the best ones -- are a master class in thriller writing. "The Informant" should be the newest addition to that syllabus, read for devouring first, and analysis thereafter."
––Sarah Weinman, Los Angeles Times

"Perry’s immaculate style — clean, polished, uncluttered by messy emotions — suits the Butcher’s Boy, who executes his kills with the same cool, dispassionate skill. But this time there’s something almost human about his awareness of the limitations imposed by his aging body. Luckily, one of the lessons he learned from Eddie is that ‘killing was mostly a mental business. It required thinking clearly, not quickly.’ And his mind is still sharp enough to devise the kind of ingenious logistical traps a young computer gamer could only dream of."
––Marilyn Stasio, New York Times

“...compelling, rapid-fire plot... an indictment of self-serving officialdom, and the old soul-shattering moral dilemma: what is truth?”
––Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“No one makes killing bad guys more fun, no one is smarter at blending research and invention, and no one offers a higher body count of ingenious hits. Highly recommended for fans of crime fiction.”
––Library Journal (starred review)

“...Beneath the sky-high body count, the twisty plot is powered by Perry’s relentless focus on the question of where the next threat is coming from and how to survive it.”
--Kirkus (starred review)
Read an excerpt from The Informant.

Visit Thomas Perry's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Silence.

The Page 99 Test: Nightlife.

Writers Read: Thomas Perry (August 2007).

The Page 69/99 Test: Fidelity.

The Page 69/99 Test: Runner.

The Page 69 Test: Strip.

The Page 69 Test: The Informant.

Writer's Read: Thomas Perry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top 10 outsiders' stories

Stephen Kelman grew up in the housing projects of Luton. He's worked variously as a careworker, a warehouse operative, and in marketing and local government administration.

Pigeon English, his first novel, will be available in the U.S. in July.
[T]he outsider [Kelman writes]... is an endlessly fascinating creature: he can be a benign commentator on his adoptive society, or a harsh critic; he can be the underdog or the agitator; his fish-out-of-water status can lend itself equally to comedy and tragedy. The entire spectrum of human experience can be captured within his detached or awed gaze. For both reader and writer, the outsider is an instrument that allows us to see the world in an unfamiliar way, and that for me is one of the prime aspirations of literature.
One of Kelman's top ten outsiders' books, as told to the Guardian:
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

The outsider as sagacious misfit, ridiculous pundit on the society he rejects and which rejects him, inflated monster of misdirected fury. Ignatius J Reilly still lives with his mother. He has questionable dress sense and a lackadaisical approach to personal hygiene. And the outsider's unwavering certainty that he is right and it's the rest of the world that needs to catch up to him. Hilarious and wretched, Ignatius is a skewed eye on a society that produces people like him with alarming frequency.
Read about another title on the list.

A Confederacy of Dunces is among John Mullan's ten best moustaches in literature, Michael Lewis's five favorite books, and Cracked magazine's classic funny novels.

Also see: Neil Griffiths's top 10 books about outsiders.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Adam Mitzner's "A Conflict of Interest"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: A Conflict of Interest by Adam Mitzner.

About the book:
Alex Miller is a criminal defense attorney and, at thirty-five, the youngest partner in one of the most powerful law firms in New York City. He's a man at the top of his game with the life he's always dreamed of, complete with a devoted wife, who remains patient with his long hours and high-stakes cases, and the love of a beautiful young daughter.

At his father's funeral, Alex meets Michael Ohlig—a mysterious and nearly mythic figure in Miller family history—who presents Alex with a surprising request: to represent him in a high-profile criminal investigation ... an alleged brokerage scam that has lost hundreds of millions of dollars for investors. Wealthy beyond words, Ohlig insists he's done nothing wrong, and Alex, who's experienced enough to know that clients always lie, uncharacteristically believes him.

As the facts come out, shocking secrets are revealed that threaten everything Alex believes in–about the law, his family, and himself. Yet Alex's desperate need for the truth propels him to unscrupulous depths, and to confront a past defined by deception and a future in jeopardy ... with the realization that one false step could destroy everything Alex holds dear.

In an electrifying debut the likes of which legal thriller fans have not seen since Scott Turow's pulse-pounding thriller Presumed Innocent, Adam Mitzner tells a shocking story of suspense that heralds a bold new voice in fiction.
Learn more about the book and author at Adam Mitzner's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Conflict of Interest.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pg. 99: Nina Eliasoph's "Making Volunteers"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Making Volunteers: Civic Life after Welfare's End by Nina Eliasoph.

About the book, from the publisher:
Volunteering improves inner character, builds community, cures poverty, and prevents crime. We've all heard this kind of empowerment talk from nonprofit and government-sponsored civic programs. But what do these programs really accomplish? In Making Volunteers, Nina Eliasoph offers an in-depth, humorous, wrenching, and at times uplifting look inside youth and adult civic programs. She reveals an urgent need for policy reforms in order to improve these organizations and shows that while volunteers learn important lessons, they are not always the lessons that empowerment programs aim to teach.

With short-term funding and a dizzy mix of mandates from multiple sponsors, community programs develop a complex web of intimacy, governance, and civic life. Eliasoph describes the at-risk youth served by such programs, the college-bound volunteers who hope to feel selfless inspiration and plump up their resum├ęs, and what happens when the two groups are expected to bond instantly through short-term projects. She looks at adult "plug-in" volunteers who, working in after-school programs and limited by time, hope to become like beloved aunties to youth. Eliasoph indicates that adult volunteers can provide grassroots support but they can also undermine the family-like warmth created by paid organizers. Exploring contradictions between the democratic rhetoric of empowerment programs and the bureaucratic hurdles that volunteers learn to navigate, the book demonstrates that empowerment projects work best with less precarious funding, more careful planning, and mandatory training, reflection, and long-term commitments from volunteers.

Based on participant research inside civic and community organizations, Making Volunteers illustrates what these programs can and cannot achieve, and how to make them more effective.
Learn more about Making Volunteers at the Princeton University Press website.

Nina Eliasoph is associate professor of sociology at the University of Southern California. She is also the author of Avoiding Politics.

Writers Read: Nina Eliasoph.

The Page 99 Test: Making Volunteers.

--Marshal Zeringue

10 works of science fiction that are really fantasy

There is a difference between science fiction and fantasy. "The boundaries ... have always been permeable," writes Annalee Newitz at io9, "but sometimes there's a story that feels just like scifi - until you think about it a little bit. And you realize it's pure fantasy."

Two top contenders from her list of SF that's really fantasy:
The Stand, by Stephen King, and The Passage, by Justin Cronin

They're basically the same book, except King's is more lively and weird than Cronin's. A plague hits the Earth that kills most people - in Cronin's novel (the first in a trilogy), the remaining people are turned into A) "vampires" who are compelled to obey the commands of a psychotic killer who is basically patient zero, and B) nice small town folk who begin to hear, psychically, the voice of a perfectly good little girl, who cannot age and remains in a state of innocence and love. It's the classic good vs. evil scenario, and the psychic powers feel more spiritual than scientific. In The Stand, the remaining humans are divided between those who hear the voice of a devil-esque guy in Vegas and a Jesus-esque lady on a nice farm. Both books depict a scientifically plausible end-of-world-via-disease scenario. And both go off into the realm of impossible fantasy and spirituality when they set up their good vs. evil plot structures.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Peter Mountford reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writers Read: Peter Mountford, author of A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism.

His entry begins:
I’m reading student stories. A lot of student stories. 180 stories, to be precise. I am a WITS writer (Writers in the Schools, which is a wonderful program that’s in many cities around the country; it puts professional writers into schools to teach and mentor students in creative writing). In Seattle, it’s arranged by Seattle Arts and Lectures. So, every semester I spend about ten days teaching a fiction-writing class to 9th graders at Shorecrest High School. Toward the end of the semester all 180 students turn in a 5-page story. Hence the phone-book-thick stack of papers that I’m working my way-through. The stories are very good this time, and I’d like to take credit for that, although I’m 99% sure it’s their teachers’ doing.

Next up, I’m reading or re-reading books about or set in Sri Lanka, because that’s where the next novel I’m writing is set. So I’m re-reading Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje and A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman. I have...[read on]
Among the early praise for A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism:
A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism is, quite simply, one of the most compelling and thought-provoking novels I’ve read in years. It’s extraordinarily vivid, populated by characters whose fates I cared about desperately, beautifully written, timely beyond measure, but above all it conveys -- with impressive precision and nuance—how we are vectors on the grid of global capital; how difficult it is to even attempt to be an authentic, let alone admirable, human being when we are, first and last, cash flow.”
—David Shields, author of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto

"A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism is a terrific debut novel—smart, moving, beautifully written. Peter Mountford's parable of the voracious global economy reminded me of Graham Greene's The Quiet American in its clear-eyed depiction of the realpolitik of our age."
—Jess Walters, author of The Financial Lives of the Poets

"A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism is a brilliant debut novel, one that is generous in giving readers an original cast of vividly-drawn and unforgettable characters, learned in its knowledge of the interwoven worlds of finance and politics, sexy, and thoroughly cosmopolitan. Peter Mountford is easily one of the most gifted and skillful young writers, already accomplished, I have had the pleasure of reading in many years."
—Charles Johnson, author of Middle Passage and Dreamer

“In his debut novel, A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism, Peter Mountford has something important to say about the ambiguous moral ground where the personal meets the political. He has experience and sophistication beyond his years and is well-positioned to mine this vein. This novel is worth your time and attention.”
—David Guterson, author of Snow Falling on Cedars

"Peter Mountford, in his amazing debut as a novelist, has updated the gilded myth of Wall Street swashbucklers in expensive suits and spun it out into the world in a hellbent tale, dramatizing the contorted rationalizations practiced by the financial elite to justify their self-delusion. Forget fame, respect, making the world a better place. Transcend the craving for money by acquiring a truckload of it. Buddha as a hedge fund operator, reallocating soullessness throughout the system."
—Bob Shacochis, author of Swimming in the Volcano and The Next New World

"Peter Mountford's A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism is a sharp, funny and terrifying novel— in a world so much like our own (part of the terror: it may, in fact, be our world), Gabriel's actions and the reactions of those around him caused me to wonder, again and again: how do I wish to live in this world, and what latitude might I find?"
—Peter Rock, author of My Abandonment
View a trailer for the novel, and learn more about the book and author at Peter Mountford's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism.

Writers Read: Peter Mountford.

--Marshal Zeringue

Isaac Marion's "Warm Bodies," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion.

The entry begins:
This is hard to discuss hypothetically because my book actually is being made into a movie and the casting process is already well underway. I've been slapped on the wrist too many times for making even the most innocuous comments about the movie (Hollywood makes the KGB look like Wikileaks.) so I think I'll circumvent the issue a little and give you a different kind of answer. Who of my real-life friends would I cast in the movie? For R, the undead main character, I'd have to cast myself, because he looks like me, thinks like me, and occasionally smells like me. For his love interest and spiritual savior, Julie, I'd have to cast my girlfriend Nichole Hughes, because the character was not-so-loosely based on her, and because she might not approve of me getting romantic with some hot young starlet on screen, even for the sake of art. For R’s friend M (whose post-apocalyptic insights you can follow on Twitter @MtheZombie) it would have to be noted comic artist and self-proclaimed “Big Bald Guy” Dale Woodruff. M was based, again not-so-loosely on this BBG, although I assure you Dale is much better looking than the shambling mass of rot that is M. Thankfully, I don’t have a personal friendship with anybody who could convincingly portray Julie’s lethally conservative, spiritually imploding father, so I’ll have to dip into Hollywood for this one....[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Isaac Marion's website and the Warm Bodies Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Warm Bodies.

Writers Read: Isaac Marion.

My Book, The Movie: Warm Bodies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pg. 99: Wallace Hettle's "Inventing Stonewall Jackson"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Inventing Stonewall Jackson: A Civil War Hero in History and Memory by Wallace Hettle.

About the book, from the publisher:
Historians’ attempts to understand legendary Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson have proved uneven at best and often contentious. An occasionally enigmatic and eccentric college professor before the Civil War, Jackson died midway through the conflict, leaving behind no memoirs and relatively few surviving letters or documents. In Inventing Stonewall Jackson, Wallace Hettle offers an innovative and distinctive approach to interpreting Stonewall by examining the lives and agendas of those authors who shape our current understanding of General Jackson.

Newspaper reporters, friends, relatives, and fellow soldiers first wrote about Jackson immediately following the Civil War. Most of them, according to Hettle, used portions of their own life stories to frame that of the mythic general. Hettle argues that the legend of Jackson’s rise from poverty to power was likely inspired by the rags-to-riches history of his first biographer, Robert Lewis Dabney. Dabney’s own successes and Presbyterian beliefs probably shaped his account of Jackson’s life as much as any factual research. Many other authors inserted personal values into their stories of Stonewall, perplexing generations of historians and writers.

Subsequent biographers contributed their own layers to Jackson’s myth and eventually a composite history of the general came to exist in the popular imagination. Later writers, such as the liberal suffragist Mary Johnston, who wrote a novel about Jackson, and the literary critic Allen Tate, who penned a laudatory biography, further shaped Stonewall’s myth. As recently as 2003, the film Gods and Generals, which featured Jackson as the key protagonist, affirmed the longevity and power of his image. Impeccable research and nuanced analysis enable Hettle to use American culture and memory to reframe the Stonewall Jackson narrative and provide new ways to understand the long and contended legacy of one of the Civil War’s most popular Confederate heroes.
Learn more about Inventing Stonewall Jackson at the LSU Press website.

Wallace Hettle, professor of history at the University of Northern Iowa, is also the author of The Peculiar Democracy: Southern Democrats in Peace and Civil War.

The Page 99 Test: Inventing Stonewall Jackson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books on US intervention abroad

Lawrence F. Kaplan is editor of Entanglements. Previously, he was editor of World Affairs, executive editor of The National Interest, and senior editor at The New Republic, for which he reported from Iraq during 2005-2007. Kaplan is also a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the U.S. Army War College. He is a graduate of Columbia University, Oxford, and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

With Eve Gerber at The Browser, Kaplan discussed five books on American intervention abroad, including:
Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776
by Walter McDougall

That brings us to Promised Land, Crusader State by Walter McDougall. Tell us about the book.

As the title implies, it explores the two sides of American exceptionalism. The term American exceptionalism, I should elaborate, derives from the idea that America is not just any country. It is a special country with a special mission and, in purposefully biblical terms, that mission is to redeem an otherwise sinful world. McDougall divides American foreign policy into “Old Testament” and “New Testament” phases. Others would call the tendencies exemplar and missionary impulses respectively. His “Old Testament” presents a modest America to which foreign nations can look for example. His “New Testament” offers America as a missionary nation going abroad to lecture on the Good Book.

There is a striking continuity here. Even the most hard-nosed devotees of realpolitik (for instance Richard Nixon) are always in the end reduced to selling American foreign policy to Americans in biblical terms – referring to America as a city on the hill, a New Jerusalem. The language of American exceptionalism strikes a chord with Americans. President Obama, for one, came into office promising to be more modest in our dealings abroad. But to listen to him today you might think you’re listening to his predecessor. The lanes for discourse in American foreign policy are extremely narrow and well-hewed. When presidents talk about foreign policy they enjoy far less room to manoeuvre than they might have hoped for. They always veer back onto the path of exceptionalism.

McDougall disagrees with what he calls “American meliorism”, America’s attempt to remake the world in its image. Can you make his argument and then tell me if or why you disagree?

The strength of McDougall’s book is its taxonomies, the distinction he makes between the promised land, on the one hand, and then the crusader state on the other. The weakness of his book is located in its normative sections. McDougall, a Vietnam veteran, clearly prefers an America that, while it may have a conception of itself as a promised land, leads by example. He believes that during the Spanish American War America was transformed into a crusading state, and that after 1898 we were guided by a missionary impulse that led us into disaster in World War I and then into successive catastrophes during the Cold War, one of which he experienced up close and personally. In McDougall’s rueful telling, this tradition reached its apogee in Vietnam. Hence meliorism – the tendency to believe we can ameliorate the human condition, which he views as being fixed and fallen. McDougall nicely details how this messianic impulse has led us astray. But I believe his reading of our downfall is overly programmatic.
Read about another book on Kaplan's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Santa Montefiore reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Santa Montefiore, author of The Perfect Happiness and The Mermaid Garden.

Her entry begins:
I took Simon Sebag-Montefiore’s book Jerusalem, The Biography to Mauritius on holiday with me. As I’m married to him, I promised I would read it – then rather wished I hadn’t because it’s very long, and if I didn’t like it I’d have to plough my way through it all because he’d know if I gave up after the first few pages. Well, my fears were totally blown away! I couldn’t put it down and declined his invitations to stroll up the beach. It’s a rollercoaster of stories about the people who conquered, ruled and visited Jerusalem. It’s bloody, violent, entertaining and enlightening. I’m sad that humanity have for centuries killed one another so barbarically in the name of God – and that the three main monotheistic religions have all been at each other’s throats when they’re all praying to the same God….tragic to put it mildly! Jerusalem might be the most religious city in the world, but it’s the...[read on]
Among the early praise for :
"Santa Montefiore is a superb storyteller…. Her plots are sensual, sensitive and complex: her characters are unforgettable life forces: her love stories are desperate yet uplifting . One laughs as much as one cries."
-- Plum Sykes, author of The Debutante Divorcee

"Epic in scope and emotion, but also brilliantly observant and truthful…surprising, moving, and skillful."
--Elizabeth Buchan, author of Separate Beds

"Montefiore is a grand storyteller. Her near-lyrical descriptive prose is appealing on its own; the plot is involving on multiple levels, crossing several genres; and her characters step well beyond formula. All in all, a fine way for American readers to get to know the Montefiore name, which will very soon be cropping up in the same sentences as the name Maeve Binchy."
-- Booklist (starred review)

"The Mermaid Garden has it all: secrets, mystery, passionate love affairs fueled by drama and determined by fate, and the grace notes of fairytales- evil stepmothers, cranky stepdaughters, and redemption in the wake of understanding in the hands of the great painter Rafa Santoro. Santa Montefiore is a wonder, you will not be able put this novel down. Unforgettable!"
--Adriana Trigiani, author of Brava, Valentine

"Like her countrywomen Barbara Taylor Bradford and Penny Vincenzi, Montefiore excels at juxtaposing the opulent with the ordinary in delicately woven tales that seamlessly traverse borders and span decades."
Learn more about the book and author at Santa Montefiore's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Perfect Happiness.

The Page 69 Test: The Mermaid Garden.

My Book, The Movie: The Mermaid Garden.

Writers Read: Santa Montefiore.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Ed Lynskey's "Lake Charles"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Lake Charles by Ed Lynskey.

About the novel:
Brendan Fishback coming home from a rock concert ends up the next morning in bed with a corpse, his dead girlfriend Ashleigh Sizemore. He has no idea how she died. But the local sheriff closing in targets Brendan as the prime suspect for Jodi’s murder. Times is running tight.

Going on a Lake Charles outing with his twin sister Edna and best pal Cobb Kuzawa, Brendan mulls things over. That night when Edna turns up missing, Brendan and Cobb take off to find her. Events heat up after they stumble on a well-guarded pot farm. Blood spills in the violent clash.

Staying one jump ahead of the local authorities and an enraged drug cartel, Brendan picks up unexpected aid. Cobb’s dad Jeremiah is a decorated Korean War vet and ex-CIA operative who applies his own rough ideas of justice. Veera Grant, a tough lady DEA agent working under cover, also joins in Cobb’s quest for the truth.

Told in a stylish, taut prose, LAKE CHARLES set in the vibrant Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee tells how a young man when pushed to the extreme defends himself against overwhelming forces on both sides of the law--and wins, but on his own terms.
Read the first chapter of Lake Charles, and visit Ed Lynskey's Facebook page.

Ed Lynskey's The Blue Cheer, the movie.

The Page 69 Test: The Dirt-Brown Derby.

The Page 99 Test: Pelham Fell Here.

Writers Read: Ed Lynskey.

My Book, The Movie: Lake Charles.

The Page 69 Test: Lake Charles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pg. 99: Margaret Morganroth Gullette's "Agewise"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Agewise: Fighting the New Ageism in America by Margaret Morganroth Gullette.

About the book, from the publisher:
Let’s face it: almost everyone fears growing older. We worry about losing our looks, our health, our jobs, our self-esteem—and being supplanted in work and love by younger people. It feels like the natural, inevitable consequence of the passing years, But what if it’s not? What if nearly everything that we think of as the “natural” process of aging is anything but?

In Agewise, renowned cultural critic Margaret Morganroth Gullette reveals that much of what we dread about aging is actually the result of ageism—which we can, and should, battle as strongly as we do racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry. Drawing on provocative and under-reported evidence from biomedicine, literature, economics, and personal stories, Gullette probes the ageism that drives discontent with our bodies, our selves, and our accomplishments—and makes us easy prey for marketers who want to sell us an illusory vision of youthful perfection. Even worse, rampant ageism causes society to discount, and at times completely discard, the wisdom and experience acquired by people over the course of adulthood. The costs—both collective and personal—of this culture of decline are almost incalculable, diminishing our workforce, robbing younger people of hope for a decent later life, and eroding the satisfactions and sense of productivity that should animate our later years.

Once we open our eyes to the pervasiveness of ageism, however, we can begin to fight it—and Gullette lays out ambitious plans for the whole life course, from teaching children anti-ageism to fortifying the social safety nets, and thus finally making possible the real pleasures and opportunities promised by the new longevity. A bracing, controversial call to arms, Agewise will surprise, enlighten, and, perhaps most important, bring hope to readers of all ages.
Read more about Agewise: Fighting the New Ageism in America at the University of Chicago Press website.

Margaret Morganroth Gullette is also the author of the prize-winning Declining to Decline and Aged by Culture, chosen a Notable Book of the Year by the Christian Science Monitor. She is a Resident Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University.

The Page 99 Test: Agewise: Fighting the New Ageism in America.

--Marshal Zeringue

Chika Unigwe's 6 favorite books

Chika Unigwe was born in Nigeria and now lives in Belgium. She was a 2008 UNESCO-Aschberg fellow and a 2009 Rockefeller Foundation fellow (at the Bellagio Center), and she holds a Ph.D. from the University of Leiden. She is the recipient of several awards for her writing, including first prize in the 2003 BBC Short Story Competition and a Commonwealth Short Story Competition award. In 2004 she was shortlisted for the Caine prize for African Writing. Her stories have been on BBC World Service and Radio Nigeria. Her second novel, On Black Sisters' Street, is now available in the U.S.

One of her six favorite books, as told to The Week magazine:
Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo

An intelligent, lyrical reimagining of the slave trade by one of the most unusual writers of our time. Evaristo’s thought-provoking novel presents a world in which white Europeans are enslaved by black Africans. It challenges fundamental perceptions of race and culture by constantly asking “what if?”
Read about another book on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Bernardine Evaristo's Blonde Roots.

Chika Unigwe's On Black Sisters' Street is one of E. C. Osondu's top ten immigrants' tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Elizabeth J. Duncan & Dolly

Today's featured duo at Coffee with a Canine: Elizabeth J. Duncan and Dolly.

The author, on whether Dolly has any influence on her writing:
She sure does. In both my books a dog has played a key role and I really couldn't imagine one of my books without a dog. A couple of readers have asked if my protagonist, Penny Brannigan, could have a cat, but that doesn't feel right to me. Dolly actually does me a great service by inviting me to go for walks with her. I do some of my best thinking when I am walking with her. I resolve plot issues, get inspired, and sometimes, ideas come to me when we're out walking that improve or change the nature or direction of a book. When we get home, I head straight for the computer and...[read on]
Among the acclaim for Duncan's second novel, A Brush with Death:
“Duncan is a born storyteller whose ability to create appealing characters, evoke a strong sense of place, and fashion a clever plot are accompanied by another gift: a faculty for writing flawlessly smooth prose. A Brush with Death is a close encounter with talent.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Duncan’s second is every bit as delightful as her debut…a smoothly written classic English mystery right up there with the best.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Duncan spends time developing the personal lives of her appealing main and secondary characters, and it is their relationships that provide much of the novel’s appeal, along with the well-realized Welsh setting and the many details about running a small business. Readers who enjoy the English village cozy mysteries of Dorothy Cannell and Nancy Atherton will want to take a look at this series.”

Publishers Weekly

“Duncan writes so well about the lives of people in a small village in Wales that the reader becomes immersed in their daily trials and tribulations…sure to appeal to fans of M.C. Beaton and Agatha Christie.”
Library Journal
Visit Elizabeth J. Duncan's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Cold Light of Mourning.

The Page 69 Test: A Brush with Death.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Elizabeth J. Duncan and Dolly.

--Marshal Zeringue