Sunday, July 31, 2011

What is Samuel Park reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Samuel Park, author of This Burns My Heart.

His entry begins:
I recently finished Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation, a terrific novel about a Chinese girl who immigrates to America and discovers the underbelly of the American Dream. Kwok offers a surprising but satisfying twist on the expected happy ending. I’m also rereading Janice Y. K. Lee’s wonderful The Piano Teacher, about a young English woman discovering her true self in the aftermath of World War II. I love, in particular...[read on]
Among the early praise for This Burns My Heart:
“A captivating debut novel from Chicago-based author Park… Park’s novel can be read as a contemplation of loss and the angst of unrequited love, much like Dr. Zhivago… Readers will be intrigued as Soo-Ja breaks from tradition to take control of her destiny, an emotionally charged personal drama played out against the backdrop of energetic South Korea as it transitions from a war-torn and oppressed country into a prosperous modern nation. Protagonist Soo-Ja’s story will enthrall in this first-rate literary effort.”
--Kirkus Reviews, Editor's Pick

“An unflappable heroine anchors Park’s epic post–Korean War love story…This is no quiet tale of yearning: the plot kicks in with an unexpected fierceness, and the ensuing action–a kidnapping, fist fights, blackmail–make for a dramatic, suck-you-in chronicle of a thrilling love affair.”
--Publishers Weekly

“First-time novelist Park orchestrates a vivid and involving novel about a Korean woman who is robbed of her dreams. In 1960, beautiful, smart, and ambitious Soo-Ja intends to become a diplomat, in spite of her wealthy father’s refusal to allow her to go to Seoul to study. Taking her mother’s hint that travel would be more feasible for a married woman, and flattered by the extravagant gestures of handsome Min, whom she believes is as privileged as she is, Soo-Ja rushes into a loveless marriage, in spite of her feelings for another, only to be cruelly betrayed. But Soo-Ja is a woman of resolve and principles and strives to do the right thing in spite of being forced into poverty and self-effacing servitude to her feckless husband and tyrannical in-laws. Park portrays, with penetrating compassion, individuals trapped in soul-crushing, sexist traditions, meshing Soo-Ja’s long, anguished fight to live a fulfilling and meaningful life with postwar Korea’s march toward modernity. Smart, affecting, and unabashedly melodramatic, Park’s novel of adversity, moral clarity, and love is consuming and cathartic.”
--Donna Seaman, Booklist
Learn more about the book and author at Samuel Park's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: This Burns My Heart.

Writers Read: Samuel Park.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best riddles in literature

At the Guardian, John Mullan named ten of the best riddles in literature.

One entry on the list:
The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare

Portia's father sets her suitors to choose from three caskets, guided only by their riddling labels. "Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire," declares the gold one. "Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves," declares silver. "This third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt, / 'Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath'." Guess which gets the girl?
Read about another riddle on the list.

The Merchant of Venice is a book Scott Turow wants his kids to read.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Melanie Benjamin's "The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin.

About the book, from the publisher:
In her national bestseller Alice I Have Been, Melanie Benjamin imagined the life of the woman who inspired Alice in Wonderland. Now, in this jubilant new novel, Benjamin shines a dazzling spotlight on another fascinating female figure whose story has never fully been told: a woman who became a nineteenth century icon and inspiration—and whose most daunting limitation became her greatest strength.

“Never would I allow my size to define me. Instead, I would define it.”

She was only two-foot eight-inches tall, but her legend reaches out to us more than a century later. As a child, Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Bump was encouraged to live a life hidden away from the public. Instead, she reached out to the immortal impresario P. T. Barnum, married the tiny superstar General Tom Thumb in the wedding of the century, and transformed into the world’s most unexpected celebrity.

Here, in Vinnie’s singular and spirited voice, is her amazing adventure—from a showboat “freak” revue where she endured jeering mobs to her fateful meeting with the two men who would change her life: P. T. Barnum and Charles Stratton, AKA Tom Thumb. Their wedding would captivate the nation, preempt coverage of the Civil War, and usher them into the White House and the company of presidents and queens. But Vinnie’s fame would also endanger the person she prized most: her similarly-sized sister, Minnie, a gentle soul unable to escape the glare of Vinnie’s spotlight.

A barnstorming novel of the Gilded Age, and of a woman’s public triumphs and personal tragedies, The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb is the irresistible epic of a heroine who conquered the country with a heart as big as her dreams—and whose story will surely win over yours.
Learn more about the book and author at Melanie Benjamin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Alice I Have Been.

The Page 69 Test: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Robin Wright's "Rock the Casbah"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World by Robin Wright.

About the book, from the publisher:
A decade after the 9/11 attacks, this groundbreaking book takes readers deep into rebellions against both autocrats and extremists that are redefining politics, culture, and security threats across the Islamic world. The awakening involves hundreds of millions of people. And the political transformations— and tectonic changes—are only beginning.

Robin Wright, an acclaimed foreign correspondent and television commentator, has covered the region for four decades. She witnessed the full cycle, from extremism's angry birth and globalization to the rise of new movements transforming the last bloc of countries to hold out against democracy. Now, in Rock the Casbah, she chronicles the new order being shaped by youth inspired revolts toppling leaders, clerics repudiating al Qaeda, playwrights and poets crafting messages of a counter-jihad, comedians ridiculing militancy, hip-hop rapping against guns and bombs, and women mobilizing for their own rights.

This new counter-jihad has many goals. For some, it's about reforming the faith. For others, it's about reforming political systems. For most, it's about achieving basic rights. The common denominator is the rejection of venomous ideologies and suicide bombs, plane hijackings, hostage-takings, and mass violence to achieve those ends.

Wright captures a stunning moment in history, one of the region's four key junctures—along with Iran's revolution, Israel's creation, and the Ottoman Empire's collapse—in a century. The notion of a clash of civilizations is increasingly being replaced by a commonality of civilizations in the twenty-first century. But she candidly details both the possibilities and pitfalls ahead. The new counter-jihad is imaginative and defiant, but Muslim societies are also politically inexperienced and economically challenged.
Learn more about the book and author at Robin Wright's website.

The Page 99 Test: Rock the Casbah.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 30, 2011

What is Jacqueline West reading?

This weekend's featured contributor at Writers Read: Jacqueline West, author of The Books of Elsewhere fantasy series for young readers.

Her entry begins:
I’m currently hooked on Gillian Flynn. I read her latest book, Dark Places, twice in a row—once to myself, and once aloud to my husband—and now I’m reading her debut novel, Sharp Objects. These are dark, bitter books, with murder at their centers, but Flynn’s characterization is so sharp, her use of language so rich and fluid, and her creation of settings so pitch-perfect that there’s a lot of beauty balancing the...[read on]
About Spellbound, the recently released second volume in The Books of Elsewhere series:
With no way into the house's magical paintings, and its three guardian cats reluctant to help, Olive's friend Morton is still trapped inside Elsewhere. So when Rutherford, the new oddball kid next door, mentions a grimoire - a spellbook - Olive feels a breathless tug of excitement. If she can find the McMartins' spellbook, maybe she can help Morton escape Elsewhere for good. Unless, that is, the book finds Olive first.

The house isn't the only one keeping secrets anymore. Mystery, magic, corruption, and betrayal abound (plus just enough laughs to take the edge off). You'll never guess what happens next in this thrilling, chilling second volume in the critically acclaimed series.
Visit Jacqueline West's website and the The Books of Elsewhere website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Jacqueline West and Brom Bones.

Writers Read: Jacqueline West.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jonathan Coe's 6 favorite books

Jonathan Coe’s awards include the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger, the Prix Médicis Étranger, and, for The Rotters’ Club, the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize.

His latest novel is The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim.

One of his six favorite books, as told to The Week magazine:
I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal

A panoramic trip through pre- and postwar middle-European history, as observed by the best kind of witness: a bystander — in this case, a naïf who waits tables in Prague. A master of rueful comedy and tender eroticism, Hrabal was, for all his eccentricity, a major figure in 20th-century world literature.
Read about another novel on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Paul Malmont's "The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown by Paul Malmont.

The entry begins:
Any discussion about the casting of my novel, The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown, has to start with the director.
Steven Spielberg. No one does WW2, light and dark, better than the master. Plus, who better to tell the origin story of the genre that has been so rewarding to him?

Francis Ford Coppola. This guy invented the modern ensemble period epic. For all its scope, Amazing is really a character piece, so I think this would be a natural fit for him.

Paul Thomas Anderson. The contemporary master of ensemble pieces and multi-layered story-telling. The guy can open up a moment on film like nobody else.

Duncan Jones. Did you see Moon?

Christopher Nolan. Why not?
And now to the cast. The fun thing about casting it, is that it’s a big cast with lots of juicy roles for hot, young talent.
Robert Heinlein: A terrific leading man who would be amazing in this role is Lee Pace. Great in Pushing Daisies. Even greater in The Fall. Michael Fassbinder from X-Men, has the dark energy needed to pull off this complicated role of the brilliant leader. In a somewhat different vein, so does...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Paul Malmont's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Paul Malmont's Jack London in Paradise.

My Book, The Movie: The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 29, 2011

What is Kermit Moyer reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Kermit Moyer, author of The Chester Chronicles.

His entry begins:
Lynn Bonasia's honey of a second novel, Summer Shift is a perfect summer read. I particularly loved the highly effective emotional close. I felt sure that Dan and Mary were made for each other and was sure, too, that in the end they would overcome and straighten out whatever obstacles and misunderstandings were keeping them apart. But the delaying tactics work here just as they work in Pride and Prejudice (that classic piece of Chick Lit). If this was a movie, I’d cast Scott Bakula, who plays an out-of-work lothario actor in the TV series Men of a Certain Age, as Dan, and I guess Sandra Bullock as Mary. I love the restaurant stuff and the quirky neurological stuff (synesthesia and Parkinson’s) and Cape Cod as a place associated with little-known but nevertheless legendary artists. Also the themes of loss, false guilt, lies, and aging that are present throughout and that give the novel its...[read on]
Among the acclaim for The Chester Chronicles:
"Kermit Moyer is one of America’s undiscovered treasures. I find myself periodically imagining a parallel world that’s exactly like this one, except that in the other world, Moyer occupies his proper place in the literary universe. I can only hope that with the publication of The Chester Chronicles that world is on its way."
--Michael Cunningham

"An eloquent, stylish novel-in-stories, 16 tales narrated by Chester Patterson, an "Army brat," who highlights his life from his sixth-grade crush in 1954 through the mid-1960s, when he's "officially an adult," and finally, his father's interment at Arlington National Cemetery. This evocative coming-of-age cycle brings to mind the stories of Lorrie Moore."
--Publishers Weekly

"The Chester Chronicles is both heartbreaking and funny. Kermit Moyer has absolute perfect pitch when it comes to Chester’s voice and the times in which he lives."
--Alice McDermott

"The brief chapters in this exquisitely written first novel also work as stand-alone stories, perfectly evoking the particulars of the late 1950s-early 1960s era and the universal emotions of childhood and adolescence. Chester "Chet" Patterson is the perennial new kid in town. Written from the perspective of an adult but employing a present-tense narration, the novel so honestly exposes pivotal moments during Chet's life that readers are almost made to feel like voyeurs. With a beautifully spare style, Moyer displays an unerring feel for those moments that distill both the pathos and the comedy of growing up."
Learn more about the book and author at Kermit Moyer's website.

Kermit Moyer grew up an Army brat in the 1950s. He got his BA, his MA and his PhD in English from Northwestern University and in 1970 joined the faculty of American University in Washington, DC, where he taught literature and creative writing for the next 37 years. His short fiction has appeared in The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, The Sewanee Review, and The Hudson Review. His books include Tumbling, a collection of stories.

Writers Read: Kermit Moyer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Rebecca Cantrell's "A Game of Lies"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: A Game of Lies by Rebecca Cantrell.

About the book, from the publisher:
Journalist Hannah Vogel returns in A Game of Lies by award-winning author Rebecca Cantrell

In preparation for the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the Nazis have rid the streets of anti-Semitic material and other propaganda, and present a peace-seeking face to the world. Journalist and part-time spy for the British, Hannah Vogel, shudders to think of what lies under the temporary coat of gloss.

Posing as travel reporter Adelheid Zinsli and lover of SS officer Lars Lang, Hannah has been collecting Nazi secrets from Lang and smuggling them back to Switzerland. Wanted by the SS, her travel in and out of Germany has always been fraught with danger, but this trip is especially treacherous.

Surrounded by former colleagues who could identify her, Hannah tries to keep a low profile while reporting on the Games as Adelheid. Her relationship with Lang gets more complicated as he sinks into alcoholism; the whispers she hears about his work in the SS give her chills. Whose side is he on?

Hannah agrees to meet her mentor, Peter Weill, at the Stadium, but before he can reveal information that will expose the Nazis, he dies in front of her. Hannah suspects poison.

Hannah must discover who killed Weill and get his secret package out of the country before the Olympics end and the Nazis tighten their noose…and before her true identity is revealed. And her partner may be the very one about to expose her…
Learn more about the book and author at Rebecca Cantrell's website and blog.

Cantrell majored in German, Creative Writing, and History at the Freie Universitaet of Berlin and Carnegie Mellon University. Her Hannah Vogel mystery series set in Berlin in the 1930s includes A Trace of Smoke and A Night of Long Knives.

The Page 69 Test: A Trace of Smoke.

My Book, The Movie: A Trace of Smoke.

The Page 69 Test: A Game of Lies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five family memoirs

At the Independent Alice-Azania Jarvis compiled a brief reading list of family memoirs.

The title on the list under "politics:"
Dreams from My Father (A Story of Race and Inheritance) by Barack Obama

The US President's memoirs deal not only with his own childhood but also with his parents' story. After receiving a phone call informing him of his father's death, Obama journeys to Africa to uncover the tale that made his dad the man he was. Concluding just as the future president enrolled at Harvard Law School, Dreams from My Father has become a must-read for anyone with an interest in politics.
Read about another book on the list.

Dreams from My Father also appears on Gillian Orr's reading list on fatherhood, Sammy Perlmutter's list of the five best books from Nobel winners who didn't win their medal for literature and Iain Finlayson's critic's chart of six books on young leaders.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Jacqueline West & Brom Bones

This weekend's featured duo at Coffee with a Canine: Jacqueline West and Brom Bones.

The author, on how she and Brom Bones were united:
In the fall of 2009, a couple of months after having to have our wonderful sixteen-year-old Border Collie put to sleep, we decided we were ready for another pet. We used to look at the dogs in our area, and Brom’s photo appeared among the listings at the Faribault humane society: tongue lolling, doggishly smiling, completely unaware of the word URGENT looming in red capitals above him. He was only a year old, but he had already been abandoned twice and had lived briefly as a stray before being returned to the shelter. Now he’d been back at the Humane Society for two months, and his time was running out.

When we first set eyes on him, he was trotting in tiny, frenzied loops around his cage, a bony streak of nervous energy. Once we got him into the play room, he opened a plastic bin with his nose and swiftly tore two stuffed toys to pieces before throwing himself across our laps. We...[read on]
About Spellbound, the recently released second volume in The Books of Elsewhere series:
With no way into the house's magical paintings, and its three guardian cats reluctant to help, Olive's friend Morton is still trapped inside Elsewhere. So when Rutherford, the new oddball kid next door, mentions a grimoire - a spellbook - Olive feels a breathless tug of excitement. If she can find the McMartins' spellbook, maybe she can help Morton escape Elsewhere for good. Unless, that is, the book finds Olive first.

The house isn't the only one keeping secrets anymore. Mystery, magic, corruption, and betrayal abound (plus just enough laughs to take the edge off). You'll never guess what happens next in this thrilling, chilling second volume in the critically acclaimed series.
Visit Jacqueline West's website and the The Books of Elsewhere website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Jacqueline West and Brom Bones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: David E. Settje's "Faith and War"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Faith and War: How Christians Debated the Cold and Vietnam Wars by David E. Settje.

About the book, from the publisher:
Throughout American history, Christianity has shaped public opinion, guided leaders in their decision making, and stood at the center of countless issues. To gain complete knowledge of an era, historians must investigate the religious context of what transpired, why it happened, and how. Yet too little is known about American Christianity’s foreign policy opinions during the Cold and Vietnam Wars. To gain a deeper understanding of this period (1964-75), David E. Settje explores the diversity of American Christian responses to the Cold and Vietnam Wars to determine how Americans engaged in debates about foreign policy based on their theological convictions.

Settje uncovers how specific Christian theologies and histories influenced American religious responses to international affairs, which varied considerably. Scrutinizing such sources as the evangelical Christianity Today, the mainline Protestant Christian Century, a sampling of Catholic periodicals, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the United Church of Christ, Faith and War explores these entities' commingling of religion, politics, and foreign policy, illuminating the roles that Christianity attempted to play in both reflecting and shaping American foreign policy opinions during a decade in which global matters affected Americans daily and profoundly.
Learn more about Faith and War at the the NYU Press website.

David E. Settje is an associate professor of history at Concordia University Chicago and author of Lutherans and the Longest War: Adrift on a Sea of Doubt about the Cold and Vietnam Wars.

The Page 99 Test: Faith and War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What is Esri Allbritten reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Esri Allbritten, author of Chihuahua of the Baskervilles.

Her entry begins:
Here's my confession: I've read almost none of Agatha Christie's work. I remember reading some in high school and dismissing one of the most popular writers of all time with the thought, "There are too many suspects and they're all cardboard cut-outs." Since then, I've enjoyed many Christie stories on Masterpiece Mystery (especially the Poirot ones). Because the video productions are so good, I didn't seek out the books. But I recently went through some boxes of childhood stuff and found her book, There is a Tide....

I decided to give the Queen of Crime another shot. Verdict? I...[read on]
Among the early praise for Chihuahua of the Baskervilles:
“Allbritten tells a light and engaging tale with charming characters that will appeal to those outside of both mystery and canine genres.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Allbritten’s debut offers eccentric characters, a lively pace, and adorable tiny dogs… Dog lovers and those who like their mysteries on the light side will be charmed…”
Publishers Weekly

“To curl up with a book about a ghost Chihuahua named Petey is to thank heaven you ever learned to read in the first place.”
–Boulder Daily Camera

“…Chihuahua of the Baskervilles lives up to its comedic promise… Frighteningly funny.”
Mystery Scene magazine

“I can’t vote, but half-way through 2011, Chihuahua of the Baskervilles would be one of my nominees for the Agatha for Best First Mystery.”
—Lesa’s Book Critiques (contributing book reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer)
Learn more about the book and author at Esri Allbritten's website.

Allbritten lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband, Angel Joe, and her cat, Musette La Plume. In addition to sushi, bowling and madrigals, she enjoys discovering quirky, real-life towns and wreaking fictional havoc in them. Her novels include two books about Lord of the Ring type elves, living in Boulder, CO.

The Page 69 Test: Chihuahua of the Baskervilles.

Writers Read: Esri Allbritten.

--Marshal Zeringue

Christine Cody's "Bloodlands," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Bloodlands by Christine Cody.

The entry begins:
In the near-distant future, there is a place called the New Badlands. It’s a desolate area in the West forged by the terrible events that altered the entire country. A place where a few frightened citizens retreated underground to shelter from the brutal weather ... and from a society gone terribly dangerous.

This is the story of a drifter, Gabriel, who comes to the New Badlands and is taken in by reluctant settlers after he’s wounded. If this is reminiscent of a bare-bones plot from one of many classic Westerns, you’d be right—but with a paranormal twist on all those Western tropes. One such trope is the lead character, Gabriel. He’s just like the “drifter/gunslinger” who’s searching for redemption and what’s left of his humanity, but instead of being a cowboy, he’s a fangslinging vampire, and he’s literally lost his soul. I wish we still had Gary Cooper around for this role—or a thirty-ish Russell Crowe. Whoever plays Gabriel would need a sort of bruised beauty about him, an edgy good-guy quality with a hint of tragedy lurking in his steady gaze.

The heroine, Mariah Lyander, is far easier to cast for me. She’s in her early twenties, waifish with red hair that’s been cut to the chin by her knife. She’s got a core of anger that separates her from the other settlers, and she’s mysterious, traumatized by a past she can’t let go of. Even so, she’s no victim. I can see a strong, young, up-and-coming actress like...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at the Bloodlands website and on Twitter.

Bloodlands, the first book in Cody's new postapocalyptic supernatural Western Bloodlands series, launched this week and will be followed by Blood Rules (August 30) and In Blood We Trust (September 27).

My Book, The Movie: Bloodlands.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Leslie Daniels' "Cleaning Nabokov's House"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Cleaning Nabokov's House by Leslie Daniels.

About the book, from the publisher:
"I knew I could stay in this town when I found the blue enamel pot floating in the lake. The pot led me to the house, the house led me to the book, the book to the lawyer, the lawyer to the whorehouse, the whorehouse to science, and from science I joined the world."

So begins Leslie Daniels's funny and moving novel about a woman's desperate attempt to rebuild her life. When Barb Barrett walks out on her loveless marriage she doesn't realize she will lose everything: her home, her financial security, even her beloved children. Approaching forty with her life in shambles and no family or friends to turn to, Barb must now discover what it means to rely on herself in a stark new emotional landscape.

Guided only by her intense inner voice and a unique entrepreneurial vision, Barb begins to collect the scattered pieces of her life. She moves into a house once occupied by Vladimir Nabokov, author of the controversial masterpiece Lolita, and discovers a manuscript that may be his lost work. As her journey gathers momentum, Barb deepens a connection with her new world, discovering resources in her community and in herself that no one had anticipated. Written in elegant prose with touches of sharp humor and wit, Cleaning Nabokov's House offers a new vision of modern love and a fervent reminder that it is never too late to find faith in our truest selves.
Learn more about the book and author at Leslie Daniels's website.

The Page 69 Test: Cleaning Nabokov's House.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top 10 journalist's tales

Tom Rachman was born in 1974 in London, but grew up in Vancouver. He studied cinema at the University of Toronto and completed a Master's degree in journalism at Columbia University in New York. From 1998, he worked as an editor at the foreign desk of The Associated Press in New York, then did a stint as a reporter in India and Sri Lanka, before returning to New York. In 2002, he was sent to Rome as an AP correspondent, with assignments taking him to Japan, South Korea, Turkey and Egypt. Beginning in 2006, he worked part-time as an editor at the International Herald Tribune in Paris to support himself while writing fiction. His debut novel is The Imperfectionists.

One of Rachman's top ten journalist's tales, as told to the Guardian:
Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

Published in 1938, this satirical masterpiece recounts the misfortunes of a timid young writer of articles about the English countryside who, by mistake, is dispatched to cover civil war in Africa. Disaster follows, as do the most memorable scenes in the genre, enough to console generations of bumbling foreign correspondents.
Read about another novel on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pg. 99: Cameron McWhirter's "Red Summer"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America by Cameron McWhirter.

About the book, from the publisher:
A narrative history of America's deadliest episode of race riots and lynchings

After World War I, black Americans fervently hoped for a new epoch of peace, prosperity, and equality. Black soldiers believed their participation in the fight to make the world safe for democracy finally earned them rights they had been promised since the close of the Civil War.

Instead, an unprecedented wave of anti-black riots and lynchings swept the country for eight months. From April to November of 1919, the racial unrest rolled across the South into the North and the Midwest, even to the nation's capital. Millions of lives were disrupted, and hundreds of lives were lost. Blacks responded by fighting back with an intensity and determination never seen before.

Red Summer is the first narrative history written about this epic encounter. Focusing on the worst riots and lynchings—including those in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Charleston, Omaha and Knoxville—Cameron McWhirter chronicles the mayhem, while also exploring the first stirrings of a civil rights movement that would transform American society forty years later.
Learn more about the book and author at Cameron McWhirter's website.

The Page 99 Test: Red Summer.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Thomas Kaufman reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Thomas Kaufman, author of Steal the Show.

His entry begins:
Have you ever met a certain type of aspiring writer? Should you ask them who they like to read, they say, "Oh, I don't read any fiction."

"But you want to write fiction?"

"Yes, but I don't want to dilute what I do by reading other people's work."

Now, I understand part of this. When I'm deep into a first draft, I'm choosy about what I read. I may go into a non-fiction jag, or reread a fiction book I love. But to try and write fiction with out reading any fiction? Unthinkable.

Let's face it, all writing is based on what's come before. The greatest of us -- and the least of us -- all owe a debt to the men and women who came before. They wrote the books we love – and the books we hate (you can learn as much, maybe more, from books that don't work for you).

Plus, when you write the kind of book you enjoy reading, you have a big advantage. If you like detective fiction, and you've read lots of it, you unintentionally programmed your brain to think in a certain way. Somewhere in your consciousness, you already know how to write the kind of book you like to read.

Which brings me to Donald E Westlake. If you've read his work, I don't have to tell you that Westlake (who also wrote as Richard Stark, to name just one of his many pseudonyms) was one of the greats, a prolific mystery writer with an agile, inventive mind, a fine sense of irony, and a sly sense of humor that infects much of his work.

Recently I picked up Good Behavior, one of the John Dortmunder series. This group of books follows a group of criminals, lead by Dortmunder, as they commit outlandish crimes which they occasionally get away with (they have rotten luck).

Good Behavior begins with Dortmunder breaking into a warehouse, only to hear police sirens approach. He escapes over the rooftops, and by accident slips and falls into
...[read on]
Among the early praise for Steal the Show:
"Kaufman packs Gidney's second caper (Drink the Tea, 2010) with familiar elements, but keeps the twists and one-liners coming."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Steal the Show breaks your heart for Gidney, a lonely man who tries so hard, but doesn't know how to express his feelings. Kaufman throws everything but the kitchen sink at poor Willis to see if he'll break, in a complex, fascinating story."
--Lesa's Book Critiques

"[A] terrific private investigative tale.... Fans will enjoy Gidney’s efforts to extract himself from the mess he has nose dived into (with talc all over him) as Thomas Kaufman provides an engaging DC noir."
--Harriet Klausner
Learn more about the book and author at Thomas Kaufman's website and blog.

Kaufman is an Emmy-winning director/cameraman who also writes mysteries. His first book, Drink the Tea, won the PWA/St Martin's Press Competition for Best First Novel. Kaufman's blog tour for Steal the Show continues at Jen's Book Thoughts, The Rap Sheet, and The Page 69 Test.

The Page 69 Test: Drink the Tea.

The Page 69 Test: Steal the Show.

Writers Read: Thomas Kaufman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best historical crime novelists

J. Kingston Pierce is both the editor of the award-winning crime-fiction blog The Rap Sheet and the senior editor of January Magazine.

For his column as Kirkus Reviews’ lead blogger in the Mysteries and Thrillers category, he came up with five of the best and most interesting historical crime novelists, including:
Stuart M. Kaminsky.

Prior to his death in 2009, Kaminsky produced four different detective series. The best of them starred midnight Toby Peters (né Pevsner), a disheveled, divorced and taco-loving ex-security officer with Warner Bros. in Hollywood, who had been fired in 1936 (after “breaking the arm of a Western star who had made the mistake of thinking he was as tough in person as he was on the screen”) and subsequently re-created himself as the most low-rent of private eyes, working for a succession of early 1940s celebrities. In You Bet Your Life (1978), he’s hired to help the outrageously funny Marx Brothers out of a money jam with mobsters, while in A Few Minutes Past Midnight (2001) he tries to protect Charlie Chaplin from someone threatening to kill the Little Tramp over his latest film project.
Read about another novelist on the list.

Also see: David B. Rivkin, Jr's five best historical mystery novels and Randy Dotinga's top five historical true-crime books of the last decade.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Brian M. Wiprud's "Ringer"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Ringer by Brian M. Wiprud.

About the book, from the publisher:
Charged with recovering a sacred relic for his La Paz diocese, Morty Martinez hunts down a gold ring that rests on the finger of New York City billionaire Robert Tyson Grant. The holy quest lands Morty squarely in murderous cross plots between the billionaire and his tabloid-prone stepdaughter, Purity. Grant’s conniving girlfriend, a decapitation-happy hit man, and an avaricious fortune teller have their own agendas that put Morty at the center of a sensational murder trial in Mexico. All as told by Morty the night before his execution.
Visit Brian M. Wiprud's website.

The Page 69 Test: Ringer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Will Lavender's "Dominance," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Dominance by Will Lavender.

The entry begins:
I always have an idea of how I want my books to “feel.” Tone isn’t something your English 101 prof scribbles on the chalk board; I really believe in it. In fact, I take tone so seriously I rewrite only to create a kind of menacing hum beneath the story. I want my books to be creepy, harrowing freakfests that set readers on the edge of their seats.

Roman Polanski, regardless of how one feels about his politics or his past, seems to direct with a very particular tone in mind. His early films (especially the paranoid, jarring Knife in the Water) have the kind of unspoken menace I am always shooting for when I write. The four characters in Knife act...[read on]
Learn more about the author and his work at Will Lavender's website and blog.

Lavender is a graduate of Centre College with an MFA from Bard College. His debut novel, Obedience, was a New York Times and international bestseller. His novels have been sold in 13 countries.

The Page 69 Test: Obedience.

Writers Read: Will Lavender.

My Book, The Movie: Dominance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What is Beth McMullen reading?

Today's featured contributor at Writers Read: Beth McMullen, author of Original Sin.

Her entry begins:
Started Early, Took My Dog, by Kate Atkinson

I’m a huge fan of Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie novels and I find that I can get really bitter if anything interferes with my reading once I’ve started. Her characters are so well drawn and so distinct, you really get no sense of the author leaking through. She has a marvelous ability to create truly different people rather than just tweaking people we’ve already met in previous works. Her minimalist approach, especially to the way Jackson expresses himself, is spot on. You can almost see the tension rising off of him in a cloud. Atkinson is also subtly funny. I find myself ...[read on]
Among the early praise for:
"An exuberantly entertaining start to what could become a wildly popular series."
—Michele Leber, Booklist (starred review)

“Smart, sassy, sexy Sally Sin is an absolute delight of a heroine whom I predict will be around delighting readers for a very long time. And her first adventure, Original Sin, is pure entertainment gold.”
—John Lescroart, author of the New York Times bestselling Dismas Hardy novels

“[A] charmingly witty and funny thriller about a spy turned at-home mom who is called back to duty.... Original Sin ... it brings together a hilarious character in Sally Sin with exciting and thrilling adventures in the secret world of intelligence.”

“There is plenty of intrigue and dastardly bad guys, plus action galore. There are also meals to prepare, play dates to schedule and yoga classes to attend as Lucy attempts to live a normal life with her family.... Original Sin is a great first outing for this debut author and a fine introduction to a fun, mysterious and likable character.”
Sarah Rachel Egelman
Learn more about the book and author at Beth McMullen's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Original Sin.

Writers Read: Beth McMullen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Thomas A. Tweed's "America’s Church"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: America's Church: The National Shrine and Catholic Presence in the Nation's Capitol by Thomas A. Tweed.

About the book, from the publisher:
The National Shrine in Washington, DC has been deeply loved, blithely ignored, and passionately criticized. It has been praised as a "dazzling jewel" and dismissed as a "towering Byzantine beach ball." In this intriguing and inventive book, Thomas Tweed shows that the Shrine is also an illuminating site from which to tell the story of twentieth-century Catholicism. He organizes his narrative around six themes that characterize U.S. Catholicism, and he ties these themes to the Shrine's material culture--to images, artifacts, or devotional spaces. Thus he begins with the Basilica's foundation stone, weaving it into a discussion of "brick and mortar" Catholicism, the drive to build institutions. To highlight the Church's inclination to appeal to women, he looks at fund-raising for the Mary Memorial Altar, and he focuses on the Filipino oratory to Our Lady of Antipolo to illustrate the Church's outreach to immigrants. Throughout, he employs painstaking detective work to shine a light on the many facets of American Catholicism reflected in the shrine.
Learn more about America's Church at the Oxford University Press website.

Thomas A. Tweed is Shive, Lindsay, and Gray Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of six books, including Our Lady of the Exile: Diasporic Religion at a Cuban Catholic Shrine in Miami and Crossing and Dwelling: A Theory of Religion.

The Page 99 Test: America's Church.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best works of fiction about baseball

Allen Barra's books include Rickwood Field: A Century in America's Oldest Ballpark and Brushbacks and Knockdowns: The Greatest Baseball Debates of Two Centuries.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of baseball fiction, including:

Sometimes You See It Coming
by Kevin Baker (1993)

Written before Kevin Baker's fame as a historical novelist, "Sometimes You See It Coming" combines the mythical power of Bernard Malamud's "The Natural" with a sense of humor. His protagonist, John Barr, is the star player for a fictional version of the New York Mets. Barr is "tall and lean, hawk-faced and loose-footed, looking every inch the ideal, baggy-uniformed ball-player of the thirties." Barr may be the greatest player of all time, having won seven batting titles. The story has more layers than a Nabokov novel, spanning a century of baseball legend, from the murder of Ty Cobb's father to Roberto Clemente's last plane ride.
Read about another book on the list.

Also see Marjorie Kehe's ten best list of baseball books, Doug Glanville's best books on baseball, Richard J. Tofel's list of the five best books on baseball as a business, Tom Werner's six favorite baseball books, Fay Vincent's five best list of baseball books, Tim McCarver's five best list of baseball books, and Nicholas Dawidoff's five best list of baseball novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Samuel Park's "This Burns My Heart"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park.

About the book, from the publisher:
Chamara is difficult to translate from Korean to English: To stand it, to bear it, to grit your teeth and not cry out? To hold on, to wait until the worst is over? Such is the burden Samuel Park's audacious, beautiful, and strong heroine, Soo-Ja Choi, faces in This Burns My Heart, an epic love story set in the intriguing landscape of postwar South Korea. On the eve of marriage to her weak, timid fiancÉ, Soo-Ja falls in love with a young medical student. But out of duty to her family and her culture she turns him away, choosing instead a world that leaves her trapped by suffocating customs.

In a country torn between past and present, Soo-Ja struggles to find happiness in a loveless marriage and to carve out a successful future for her only daughter. Forced by tradition to move in with her in-laws, she must navigate the dangers of a cruel household and pay the price of choosing the wrong husband. Meanwhile, the man she truly loves remains a lurking shadow in her life, reminding her constantly of the love she could have had.

Will Soo-Ja find a way to reunite with her one true love or be forced to live out her days wondering "what if " and begin to fully understand the meaning of chamara?

He is not just telling her to stand the pain, but giving her comfort, the power to do so. Chamara is an incantation, and if she listens to its sound, she believes that she can do it, that she will push through this sadness. And if she is strong about it, she'll be rewarded in the end. It is a way of saying, I know, I feel it, too. This burns my heart, too.
Learn more about the book and author at Samuel Park's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: This Burns My Heart.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 25, 2011

Edie Meidav's "Lola, California," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Lola, California by Edie Meidav.

The entry begins:
Years ago I saw Robert Duvall in The Apostle and you could say that, if we were to freeze time, he would be the ideal lead for any movie based on any of my novels. For Lola, California, however, maybe Ed Harris would be a good latterday descendant of Duvall, capable of playing Vic Mahler as he awaits his end on Death Row. Could, however, Laura Linney be his daughter and play one of the Lolas? Ever since I saw her in You Can Count on Me, I've been smitten: her actor's modus operandi is to strip herself of all ego and plunge into a role, a feat to which we could all aspire. Could...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Edie Meidav's website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Edie Meidav.

The Page 69 Test: Lola, California.

My Book, The Movie: Lola, California.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Anna North reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Anna North, author of America Pacifica.

Her entry begins:
I’m usually reading several different books at a time, which I dip into depending on my mood. Here’s what’s in my stack right now:

Season to Taste, by Molly Birnbaum

Birnbaum lost her sense of smell after a head injury and then regained it bit by bit over the course of many months. Her memoir of this time in her life is movingly personal, but also analytical – she talks to neuroscientists, perfumers, and chefs about the nature of smell and what happens when it’s lost. This book makes me notice things like the smell of own hand while I hold it – it also makes me want to...[read on]
Among the early praise for America Pacifica:
"Anna North has crafted a dangerous, wise, and deeply affecting vision of the future that is also a dark mirror held to our present. At once thrilling and heartbreaking, America Pacifica suggests how we shape ourselves by shaping the world."
--Jedediah Berry, author of The Manual of Detection

"Anna North's fluid prose moves this story along with considerable force and velocity. The language in America Pacifica seeps into you, word by word, drop by drop, until you are saturated in the details of this vivid and frightening world."
--Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

"In her dark, page-turning debut, North tells the story of Darcy, an 18-year-old girl in a dystopian future whose mother goes missing. For as long as she can remember, Darcy has lived on America Pacifica, an isolated island nation, home to refugees from a mainland ravaged by drastic climate change. Their government is run by a Big Brother like autocrat named Tyson whose strict social hierarchy allows the richest residents to live in luxury while most citizens live in hovels and can barely afford food. Despite these circumstances, Darcy and her mother, Sarah, are otherwise happy until one day when Sarah doesn't return from work. With no resources or leads, Darcy vows to find her mother.... [T]he story—and the wealth of detail in a vividly imagined world—is memorable."
--Publishers Weekly
Learn more about the book and author at Anna North's website.

North is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. America Pacifica, her first novel, is published by Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown. She is also a staff writer at Jezebel.

Writers Read: Anna North.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten animal stories

Lauren St. John is the author of the White Giraffe series and the Laura Marlin mysteries.

For the Guardian she named her top ten animal adventures.

One title on the list:
Born Free by Joy Adamson

The ultimate animal book. Joy Adamson's multi million-selling 1960 book about orphaned Elsa, the lioness she and her husband George raised and released into the wild in Kenya became one of the successful films of all time when husband and wife Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna starred as the couple. It was one of the first ever accounts of the unique bond that could be formed between humans and wild animals, and at the vanguard of the modern conservation movement. Through Elsa's experiences, generations learned that wild animals were not just things to be shot, eaten or caged, but that they feel many of the emotions that we do. McKenna and Travers went on to set up the wildlife charity that would become the Born Free Foundation, at the heart of which is the belief that wild animals belong in the wild.
Read about another book on the list.

Visit Lauren St. John's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Claudio E. Benzecry's "The Opera Fanatic"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: The Opera Fanatic: Ethnography of an Obsession by Claudio E. Benzecry.

About the book, from the publisher:
Though some dismiss opera as old-fashioned, it shows no sign of disappearing from the world’s stage. So why do audiences continue to flock to it? Given its association with wealth, one might imagine that opera tickets function as a status symbol. But while a desire to hobnob with the upper crust might motivate the occasional operagoer, for hardcore fans the real answer, according to The Opera Fanatic, is passion—they do it for love.

Opera lovers are an intense lot, Claudio E. Benzecry discovers in his look at the fanatics who haunt the legendary Colón Opera House in Buenos Aires, a key site for opera’s globalization. Listening to the fans and their stories, Benzecry hears of two-hundred-mile trips for performances and nightlong camp-outs for tickets, while others testify to a particular opera’s power to move them—whether to song or to tears—no matter how many times they have seen it before. Drawing on his insightful analysis of these acts of love, Benzecry proposes new ways of thinking about people’s relationship to art and shows how, far from merely enhancing aspects of everyday life, art allows us to transcend it.
Learn more about The Opera Fanatic at the University of Chicago Press website.

Claudio Benzecry is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut.

The Page 99 Test: The Opera Fanatic.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pg. 69: Esri Allbritten's "Chihuahua of the Baskervilles"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Chihuahua of the Baskervilles by Esri Allbritten.

About the book, from the publisher:
The decidedly eccentric staff of Tripping Magazine, a low-budget periodical of the paranormal, go to Manitou Springs, Colorado, to investigate a ghostly Chihuahua spotted by the rich founder of a clothing catalog for small dogs. Is the glowing apparition really the deceased namesake of Petey’s Closet, “Where Dapper Dogs Shop”? Or is someone trying to teach a dead dog new tricks? With memorable and wacky characters, fans of Blaize Clement and all cozy lovers will be clamoring to get a copy of this unique new series.
Learn more about the book and author at Esri Allbritten's website.

Allbritten lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband, Angel Joe, and her cat, Musette La Plume. In addition to sushi, bowling and madrigals, she enjoys discovering quirky, real-life towns and wreaking fictional havoc in them. Her novels include two books about Lord of the Ring type elves, living in Boulder, CO.

Chihuahua of the Baskervilles is the first book in the Tripping Magazine mystery series.

The Page 69 Test: Chihuahua of the Baskervilles.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Daniel Kelly reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Daniel Kelly, author of Yuck!: The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust.

His entry begins:
The Situated Self by J.T. Ismael

Part of the reason I got into the philosophy of mind and cognitive science is that I’m not infrequently kept up at night by questions about minds and selves and personal identity (who am I? what am I? what makes me me, or you you? what’s the difference between a self-image and the actual self that it’s an image of?). The insomnia hasn’t changed much, but I have found myself frustrated by how these types of issues tend to be framed in a lot of contemporary philosophy. Ismael’s book was revelatory, and completely reoriented a lot of my midnight ruminations. It is exactly the kind of philosophy I like most: challenging, naturalistically grounded, clear and rigorous, but also imaginative and far-reaching. Ismael pulls together ideas and strands of thought from a range of different discussions, putting them to work to shed new light on a number of familiar philosophic puzzles. Her view unlocks...[read on]
Among the early praise for Yuck!: The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust:
“Entertaining and explanatory. Enough to disgust the prudes and thrill the salacious. I did not know how many foods I will never eat and practices I will never follow. This is a terrific read with a genuine underlying moral seriousness. Highly recommended!”
—Michael Ruse, Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and Director of the History and Philosophy of Science Program, Florida State University

“In the minds of those with an intellectual interest in psychology, disgust was once just another item listed in the standard catalog of emotions. Over the past decade or so disgust has oozed its way to the forefront and is now seen as one of the most fascinating and revealing aspects of human psychology. Synthesizing psychological, evolutionary, and philosophical perspectives, Kelly’s book is by far the best focused study of the topic available.”
—Richard Joyce, Professor of Philosophy, Victoria University of Wellington, and author of The Myth of Morality and The Evolution of Morality
Learn more about Daniel Kelly's Yuck!: The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust at the MIT Press website.

Daniel Kelly is an assistant professor in the philosophy department at Purdue University. His research interests are at the intersection of the philosophy of mind, cognitive science and moral theory. In addition to his work on disgust he has published papers on moral judgment, social norms, racial cognition, and cross-cultural diversity.

The Page 99 Test: Yuck!: The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust.

Writers Read: Daniel Kelly.

--Marshal Zeringue

Reading list: family dynasties

At the Independent Will Dean compiled a brief reading list on family dynasties, including one book about a media dynasty:
The Man Who Owns The News by Michael Wolff

Wolff's biography of Rupert Murdoch – written using 50 hours of taped interviews with the News Corp chairman – may be a profile of the main player in the dynasty, but Rupert's rise (and now possible fall) is interwoven with his family. Wolff tells his story from inheriting the family business from father Sir Keith to his continuing (and how!) struggle to anoint an heir.
Read about a novel on the reading list.

Also see Fouad Ajami's five best books about financial dynasties.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ellen Block's "The Definition of Wind," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Definition of Wind by Ellen Block.

The entry begins:
As an author living in LA, I'm no stranger to playing the "who would you cast" game. In fact, I often find myself describing the characters via actors in order to bring them to life for people unfamiliar with my past books. The Hollywood-style pitch for my latest novel goes something like this...

Imagine Sandra Bullock...she's a grieving widow, haunted by the loss of her beloved husband and son in a tragic house fire, so she retreats to a quaintly quirky little island in North Carolina's Outer Banks to become the caretaker of an old lighthouse and recuperate. But she quickly discovers that the lighthouse may be as haunted as she is.

With the summer tourist season ushering in sizzling temperatures along with crowds of tourists, our heroine realizes that the hectic world she fled has landed on her doorstep and she isn't sure she can stand the heat. When visitors and natives alike start buzzing about a sunken treasure located off the coast and clues to it's location supposedly being hidden in the lighthouse, she soon becomes the focus of everybody's attention, including a handsome, seductive bachelor...think Aaron...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Ellen Block's website.

Ellen Block is the award-winning, internationally published author of five books, and she is also the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. Block lives in Los Angeles, where she is currently at work on a new novel.

My Book, The Movie: The Definition of Wind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pg. 99: Karen Petrone's "The Great War in Russian Memory"

This weekend's feature at the Page 99 Test: The Great War in Russian Memory by Karen Petrone.

About the book, from the publisher:
Karen Petrone shatters the notion that World War I was a forgotten war in the Soviet Union. Although never officially commemorated, the Great War was the subject of a lively discourse about religion, heroism, violence, and patriotism during the interwar period. Using memoirs, literature, films, military histories, and archival materials, Petrone reconstructs Soviet ideas regarding the motivations for fighting, the justification for killing, the nature of the enemy, and the qualities of a hero. She reveals how some of these ideas undermined Soviet notions of military honor and patriotism while others reinforced them. As the political culture changed and war with Germany loomed during the Stalinist 1930s, internationalist voices were silenced and a nationalist view of Russian military heroism and patriotism prevailed.
Preview The Great War in Russian Memory, and learn more about the book at the Indiana University Press website.

Karen Petrone is Professor of History at the University of Kentucky. She is author of Life Has Become More Joyous, Comrades: Celebrations in the Time of Stalin, editor (with Valerie Kivelson, Michael S. Flier, and Nancy Shields Kollmann) of The New Muscovite Cultural History: A Collection in Honor of Daniel B. Rowland, and co-editor (with Jie-Hyun Lim) of Gender Politics and Mass Dictatorship: Global Perspectives.

The Page 99 Test: The Great War in Russian Memory.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Will Lavender reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Will Lavender, author of Dominance.

His entry begins:
I recently picked up Michael Crichton’s Sphere, a book that was recommended to me as “a good beach read.” I wasn’t expecting the book to do what it did. First, let me say that I love scouring used bookstores; I love the veiny-spined book, the lonely book that has been on the shelves for months and months, the book that was popular two decades ago. I like to sort of assume a different persona when I read these novels, imagine that I am living in a different era, the era when this particular book was hot off the presses. The book as time machine.

Like all great books, Sphere is a book that works on a multitude of different levels. What it is, though, is a page-turner. What it isn’t? Mindless entertainment. This book is the literary equivalent of...[read on]
Among the early praise for Dominance:
"[A] taut second standalone.... Full-bodied characters, an effective gothic atmosphere, and a deliciously creepy, unpredictable finale."
Publishers Weekly

"The Silence of the Lambs meets And Then There Were None... a terrific premise."

"Lavender takes on another puzzle-within-a-thriller... Twisty and turny, with all kinds of side roads ... [He] manages to maintain the novel's taut, sinister atmosphere from the first page to the last... Readers who loved Lavender's first book will doubtless delight in this one."
Kirkus Reviews

"Lavender's exciting second literary thriller (after Obedience) pulls readers right into the hunt. Aldiss reminds us of a sexy Hannibal Lecter, and the mystery of the reclusive author Paul Fallows and his connection to the class is riveting. Well-drawn characters, excellent plot, good use of flashbacks, and many red herrings will keep the pages turning to the very end."
Library Journal
Learn more about the author and his work at Will Lavender's website and blog.

Lavender is a graduate of Centre College with an MFA from Bard College. His debut novel, Obedience, was a New York Times and international bestseller. His novels have been sold in 13 countries.

The Page 69 Test: Obedience.

Writers Read: Will Lavender.

--Marshal Zeringue