Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pg. 99: Glen Pettigrove's "Forgiveness and Love"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Forgiveness and Love by Glen Pettigrove.

About the book, from the publisher:
What is forgiveness? When is it appropriate? How is it encouraged or inhibited? Answering these questions one way rather than another can alter our lives and our relationships in dramatic ways. If we think that forgiveness is or involves a passion that we experience but over which we have little control, then we will respond to it differently than if we think forgiving is something we choose to do or refrain from doing. If we think forgiveness involves restoring a relationship, then we will treat it differently than if we think it merely a matter of managing our emotions. If we think forgiveness is something that must be earned or deserved then we will not even consider forgiving certain agents; whereas if we think it is something that can be freely given, then forgiving these agents may become a live option. Glen Pettigrove explores the nature and norms of forgiveness, drawing attention to important dimensions that have been neglected by other discussions of the topic. He highlights the significance of character, both of the forgiver and of the forgiven, for common perspectives on what forgiveness is and when it is appropriate. Pettigrove explores the relationship between forgiving, understanding, and loving. And he revives a virtue that has too long been neglected: namely, grace.
Learn more about Forgiveness and Love at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Forgiveness and Love.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top Halloween books

In 2006 Book Sense came up with a top ten list of Halloween books. One title on the list:
THE INHABITED WORLD: A Novel, by David Long (Houghton)

"This beautifully written ghost story is a moving speculation about the world beyond. A man wakes up to the realities of having dodged just about every stand he could have taken and, 10 years after his suicide, realizes that he's at another branch in the road. If he can't intervene in the world of the living, perhaps the living world can help spur him on to do what he needs to do."
Read about another book on the list.

Also see James Hynes' 2008 top 10 list of Halloween stories and Brad Leithauser's five best ghost tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Paula Bomer reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Paula Bomer, author of Nine Months.

Her entry begins:
Right now I am reading The Man Who Loved Children by the Australian writer, Christina Stead. I'm a huge fan of Jonathan Franzen and while reading his latest collection of excellent essays, Farther Away, I came across an essay on The Man Who Loved Children. I'm not letting myself read the Franzen essay until I finish the novel, 527 pages of very small type, dense writing. Frankly, I'm finding it challenging but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's also deeply, darkly depressing, from the beginning onward. There are flashes of humor, but only flashes. In fact, when starting the book I thought "where can this go?" because it starts with...[read on]
About Nine Months, from the publisher:
Sonia, a young Brooklyn mother shaken by her unexpected (third) pregnancy, abandons her husband and kids and takes off on a cross-country odyssey in search of an identity separate from her family. She does everything a pregnant woman shouldn't do—engaging in casual sex and smoking weed—as she retraces her past and attempts to reclaim her sidelined career as an artist. Nine Months is a fierce, daring page-turner of a novel—a lacerating response to the culture of mommy blogs, helicopter parents and "parental correctness" as well as an unflinching look at the choices women face when trying to balance art and family.
Read more about Nine Months, and visit Paula Bomer's blog.

Writers Read: Paula Bomer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Juliette Fay's "The Shortest Way Home"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Shortest Way Home by Juliette Fay.

About the book, from the publisher:

Sean has spent twenty years in Third World war zones and natural disaster areas, fully embracing what he’d always felt was his life’s mission. But when burnout sets in, Sean is reluctantly drawn home to Belham, Massachusetts, the setting of Fay’s much-loved Shelter Me. There, he discovers that his steely aunt, overly dramatic sister, and quirky nephew are having a little natural disaster of their own. When he reconnects with a woman from his past, Sean has to wonder if the bonds of love and loyalty might just rewrite his destiny. Completely relatable, The Shortest Way Home is another perfect serving of a slice of life from the irresistible Fay.
Learn more about the book and author at Juliette Fay's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Deep Down True.

The Page 69 Test: The Shortest Way Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pg. 99: Paul Thomas Chamberlin's "The Global Offensive"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: The Global Offensive: The United States, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Making of the Post-Cold War Order by Paul Thomas Chamberlin.

About the book, from the publisher:
On March 21, 1968, Yasir Arafat and his guerrillas made the fateful decision to break with conventional guerrilla tactics, choosing to stand and fight an Israeli attack on the al-Karama refugee camp in Jordan. They suffered terrible casualties, but they won a stunning symbolic victory that transformed Arafat into an Arab hero and allowed him to launch a worldwide campaign, one that would reshape Cold War diplomacy and revolutionary movements everywhere.

In The Global Offensive, historian Paul Thomas Chamberlin offers new insights into the rise of the Palestine Liberation Organization in its full international context. After defeat in the 1967 war, the crushing of a guerrilla campaign on the West Bank, and the attack on al-Karama, Arafat and his fellow guerilla fighters opened a global offensive aimed at achieving national liberation for the Palestinian people. In doing so, they reinvented themselves as players on the world stage, combining controversial armed attacks, diplomacy, and radical politics. They forged a network of nationalist revolutionaries, making alliances with South African rebels, Latin American insurrectionists, and Vietnamese Communists. They persuaded the United Nations to take up their agenda, and sent Americans and Soviets scrambling as these stateless forces drew new connections across the globe. "The Vietnamese and Palestinian people have much in common," General Vo Nguyen Giap would tell Arafat, "just like two people suffering from the same illness." Richard Nixon's views mirrored Giap's: "You cannot separate what happens to America in Vietnam from the Mideast or from Europe or any place else."

Deftly argued and based on extensive new research, The Global Offensive will change the way we think of the history of not only the PLO, but also the Cold War and international relations since.
Learn more about The Global Offensive at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Global Offensive.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five notable books on glamour

Helena Frith Powell is the author of All You Need to Be Impossibly French: A Witty Investigation Into the Lives, Lusts, and Little Secrets of French Women, Be Incredibly Sexy: A Crash Course in Getting Your Groove On--and Keeping It There, and other books. Her new novel, which is about first love and set in London, will be out in the spring of 2013.

With Sophie Roell at The Browser, she tagged five notable books on glamour, including:
Bonjour Tristesse
by Françoise Sagan

What about “Bonjour Tristesse”, written by Francoise Sagan when she was just 18?

I think this book is just compulsory reading for women of any age. It’s a wonderful book, apart from anything else. It gives an amazing insight into that awful stage of becoming a woman. And I think part of what we’ve been talking about — whether you want to call it glamour or sexual attractiveness or whatever — is really about being a woman. And “Bonjour Tristesse” describes that transition into adulthood very well.

I love the main character in the book, the young heroine Cécile, but also Anne Larsen, the woman whom the father loves falls in love with. I think she is just this very chic, iconic, French woman, 42 years old, who makes an effort to look good at all times, which is something French women are very good at. So even when Anne comes down to breakfast, she’s wearing lip gloss and an ironed shirt and even though she’s casual, she still looks gorgeous in every way. I think this book is just such a classic and it gives you a very strong sense of French glamour, French style. There’s a real style about this book.
Read about another book Helena Frith Powell tagged at The Browser.

Visit Helena Frith Powell's website, and read about her top ten list of "sexy French books."

Writers Read: Helena Frith Powell (February 2009).

--Marshal Zeringue

Corey Redekop's "Husk," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Husk by Corey Redekop.

The entry begins:
I hate to specify certain body types of actors, as I really don’t like casting based on appearance. But my hero Sheldon gradually rots away to nothing, especially in the third act, so I reluctantly have to insist that the actor portraying him be relatively slim in build. It just isn’t feasible to use an actor with a larger frame, unless we shell out tonnes of money for CGI, and no one wants that.

Sheldon would be an excellent part for either Jay Baruchel or Topher Grace. Both are relatively slight, and both have unique comedic timing that I think would help accentuate the ridiculousness of the situation. Husk is a comedy, despite the gallons of viscera I spread about the pages. But there’s a dramatic side to much of the proceedings, so my final answer would have to be Joseph...[read on]
Read more about the novel and author at the Shelf Monkey blog and Corey Redekop's website.

The Page 99 Test: Shelf Monkey.

My Book, The Movie: Shelf Monkey.

My Book, The Movie: Husk.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Judith Rock reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Judith Rock, author of A Plague of Lies.

Her entry begins:
When I'm working on a book--just now I'm writing the 4th book in the Charles du Luc historical mystery series--I'm more likely to read nonfiction than fiction. I do most of my reading-for-fun before I go to sleep, and by the end of a writing day, I often don't want to cope with another story... But there are exceptions, and lately I've been reading Christopher Fowler's Peculiar Crimes Unit series and loving it! It's so different from my own stuff and so fascinating, that it's a perfect change of scene. I love the British sense of humor, and also Fowler's wonderful use of language and the arcane and intricate side-issues he...[read on]
About A Plague of Lies, from the publisher:
In her historic mysteries The Rhetoric of Death and The Eloquence of Blood, Judith Rock created an atmosphere that "takes you back to fascinating and dangerous seventeenth-century Paris so well that I suspect her of being a time-traveler who's been there" (Ariana Franklin, national bestselling author of A Murderous Procession). Now, the latest novel to feature Charles du Luc finds the ex-soldier-turned-Jesuit caught up in royal intrigue...

Versailles, 1687

Madame de Maintenon is King Louis XIV’s second wife. The daughter of a minor noble of ill-repute, she has not forgiven the king's Jesuit confessor for encouraging him to withhold the title of Queen from her. To placate her, the prestigious Louis le Grand Jesuit school has sent a delegation—including her distant cousin Pere Jouvancy and rhetoric teacher Charles du Luc—to Versailles with a gift of reliquary.

But while the Sun King’s palace might be spectacular, this visit is anything but pleasant. Their first night, a courtier dies, and court whispers claim poison. Then the Jesuit delegation falls direly ill, and a palace gardener is found murdered. Fear grips a court already on edge. In the midst of all this, Charles learns that one of his students is in love with the king’s rebellious (and betrothed) daughter, and may ruin not only himself, but all of them…
Learn more about the book and author at Judith Rock's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Plague of Lies.

Writers Read: Judith Rock.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pg. 99: Eric Jay Dolin's "When America First Met China"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: When America First Met China: An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail by Eric Jay Dolin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Ancient China collides with newfangled America in this epic tale of opium smugglers, sea pirates, and dueling clipper ships.

Brilliantly illuminating one of the least-understood areas of American history, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin now traces our fraught relationship with China back to its roots: the unforgiving nineteenth-century seas that separated a brash, rising naval power from a battered ancient empire. It is a prescient fable for our time, one that surprisingly continues to shed light on our modern relationship with China. Indeed, the furious trade in furs, opium, and bêche-de-mer—a rare sea cucumber delicacy—might have catalyzed America’s emerging economy, but it also sparked an ecological and human rights catastrophe of such epic proportions that the reverberations can still be felt today. Peopled with fascinating characters—from the “Financier of the Revolution” Robert Morris to the Chinese emperor Qianlong, who considered foreigners inferior beings—this page-turning saga of pirates and politicians, coolies and concubines becomes a must-read for any fan of Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower or Mark Kurlansky’s Cod.
Learn more about the book and author at Eric Jay Dolin's website.

Dolin is the author of Leviathan: The History of Whaling In America and Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America.

The Page 99 Test: Fur, Fortune, and Empire.

The Page 99 Test: When America First Met China.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ty Burr's 6 favorite movie-star biographies

Ty Burr has been a film critic at The Boston Globe since 2002. Prior to that he wrote about movies for Entertainment Weekly, and he began his career as an in-house movie analyst for HBO. His books include The Best Old Movies for Families: A Guide to Watching Together and the newly released Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame.

One of his six favorite movie-star biographies, as told to The Week magazine:
Marlon Brando by Patricia Bosworth

You could read Peter Manso's 1,100-page doorstop, Brando, or the actor's own, 480-page autobiography, Songs My Mother Taught Me. But Bosworth somehow gets to the knotted, self-loathing heart of Marlon's darkness in 228 elegant pages. By the time you get to the epilogue, you feel as if Brando's in the room with you.
Read about another book on the list.

Also see: Michael Wood's top ten books on film.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Mary Stewart Atwell's "Wild Girls"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Wild Girls by Mary Stewart Atwell.

About the book, from the publisher:
Daringly imagined, atmospheric, and original, Wild Girls is an exhilarating debut—part coming-of-age story and part supernatural tale about girls learning their own strength.

Kate Riordan fears two things as she grows up in the small Appalachian town of Swan River: that she’ll be a frustrated townie forever or that she’ll turn into one of the mysterious and terrifying wild girls, killers who start fires and menace the community. Struggling to better her chances of escaping, Kate attends the posh Swan River Academy and finds herself divided between her hometown—and its dark history—and the realm of privilege and achievement at the Academy. Explosive friendships with Mason, a boy from the wrong side of town, and Willow, a wealthy and popular queen bee from school, are slowly pulling her apart. Kate must decide who she is and where she belongs before she wakes up with cinders at her fingertips.

Mary Stewart Atwell has written a novel that is at once funny and wise and stunningly inventive. Her wild girls are strange and fascinating creatures—a brilliant twist on the anger teenage girls can feel at their powerlessness—and a promise of the great things to come from this young writer.
Read more about Wild Girls, and visit Mary Stewart Atwell's Facebook page and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Wild Girls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Iris Anthony & Larry

The current featured duo at Coffee with a Canine: Iris Anthony and Larry.

The author, on Larry's contribution to her writing:
Larry keeps me on task. In the cooler months, he sits in my lap and sleeps as I write at my desk (which has the added benefit of keeping me warm). I hate to have to wake him up which usually keeps me in my chair and writing until noon. After a break for lunch (and more ice cubes) we go back to work until mid-afternoon. I have to say he’s lousy at research though. I do my research reading on a couch in the living room and more than once his snores and deep breathing have...[read on]
About Iris Anthony's new novel The Ruins of Lace, from the publisher:
Lace is a thing like hope.
It is beauty; it is grace.
It was never meant to destroy so many lives

The mad passion for forbidden lace has infiltrated France, pulling soldier and courtier into its web. For those who want the best, Flemish lace is the only choice, an exquisite perfection of thread and air. For those who want something they don't have, Flemish lace can buy almost anything-or anyone.

For Lisette, lace begins her downfall, and the only way to atone for her sins is to outwit the noble who know demands an impossible length of it. To fail means certain destruction. But for Katharina, lace is her salvation. It is who she is; it is what she does. If she cannot make this stunning tempest of threads, a dreaded fate awaits.
Learn more about the book and author at Iris Anthony's website and blog.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Iris Anthony and Larry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Yona Zeldis McDonough's "A Wedding in Great Neck," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: A Wedding in Great Neck by Yona Zeldis McDonough.

The entry begins:
I think my new novel A Wedding in Great Neck, would make an ideal movie because it is so tightly focused: it takes place in a single day and pretty much in a single setting. There are four generations represented and five differing points of view. For the mother of bride, Betsy, I would love to see Meryl Streep because I think she lends such presence and depth to any film she is in. The bride herself could be beautifully played by Anne...[read on]
Learn more about the author and her work at Yona Zeldis McDonough's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Yona Zeldis McDonough & Queenie, Willa and Holden.

The Page 69 Test: A Wedding in Great Neck.

Writers Read: Yona Zeldis McDonough.

My Book, The Movie: A Wedding in Great Neck.

--Marshal Zeringue

Giveaway: "You Tell Your Dog First"

Author Alison Pace and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a copy of her new book, You Tell Your Dog First.

About the book, from the publisher:
You Tell Your Dog First…

About the date you just had…about the questionable results of a medical test…about the good and the bad…about everything.

For years, award-winning author Alison Pace was a dog person without a dog. And then, she got Carlie—a feisty and fluffy West Highland white terrier. She could weed out bad boyfriends with a sniff of her button-black nose and win the hearts of lifelong friends with an adoring gaze. Suddenly, Alison had a constant companion and confidante, who went with her on long morning rambles in Central Park, on trips to the country and the beach, and on her search for inner peace, love, and happiness. Through Carlie, Alison found herself connected to the world as never before.

With her trademark warmth, wit and humor, Alison shares her stories…the tales of a dog person who found her dog.
Learn more about the book and author at Alison Pace's website.

HOW TO ENTER: Visit the Campaign for the American Reader Facebook page, scroll down, and "like" the post for You Tell Your Dog First. Contest closes on Tuesday, November 6th.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Thomas K. McCraw's "The Founders and Finance"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: The Founders and Finance: How Hamilton, Gallatin, and Other Immigrants Forged a New Economy by Thomas K. McCraw.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1776 the United States government started out on a shoestring and quickly went bankrupt fighting its War of Independence against Britain. At the war’s end, the national government owed tremendous sums to foreign creditors and its own citizens. But lacking the power to tax, it had no means to repay them. The Founders and Finance is the first book to tell the story of how foreign-born financial specialists—immigrants—solved the fiscal crisis and set the United States on a path to long-term economic success.

Pulitzer Prize–winning author Thomas K. McCraw analyzes the skills and worldliness of Alexander Hamilton (from the Danish Virgin Islands), Albert Gallatin (from the Republic of Geneva), and other immigrant founders who guided the nation to prosperity. Their expertise with liquid capital far exceeded that of native-born plantation owners Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, who well understood the management of land and slaves but had only a vague knowledge of financial instruments—currencies, stocks, and bonds. The very rootlessness of America’s immigrant leaders gave them a better understanding of money, credit, and banks, and the way each could be made to serve the public good.

The remarkable financial innovations designed by Hamilton, Gallatin, and other immigrants enabled the United States to control its debts, to pay for the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, and—barely—to fight the War of 1812, which preserved the nation’s hard-won independence from Britain.
Read more about The Founders and Finance at the Harvard University Press website.

McCraw is Straus Professor of Business History Emeritus at Harvard Business School. In addition to The Founders and Finance, his books include Prophets of Regulation, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History, and his biography Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction, which won four other prizes and is available in six languages.

The Page 99 Test: The Founders and Finance.

The Page 69 Test: Prophet of Innovation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five notable novels not about humans

Carol Birch is the author of Jamrach’s Menagerie and ten other novels. She has won the David Higham Prize for Life in the Palace, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for The Fog Line, and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2003 for Turn Again Home.

For the Wall Street Journal she named five top novels not about humans, including:
Only Human
by Jenny Diski (2000)

This elegant and hugely entertaining work imagines one of the first great family sagas. The author of eight novels, Diski has been consistent in her attraction to such complex themes as chaos, madness and the longing for nonexistence. "Like Mother" (1989), was narrated by Nony (short for "nonentity"), a baby born without a brain. In "Only Human" she dares to choose God himself as a protagonist. Misunderstood, wanting only to be loved, God is, in this portrayal, anxious to present his side of the whole messy business of creation. He speaks to Abram, and Abram hears, for which God loves him. But Sarai, Abram's wife, hears nothing. God and Sarai engage in a profoundly complicated war for the love of Abram—one focused on a child. Hagar, the slave girl who bears Abram a proxy heir at Sarai's command, is central to one stage in this battle, as Isaac, adored child of Sarai and Abram's old age, is to another. God's terrible final demand is that Abram offer Isaac as a sacrifice. This is God's nuclear bomb, the one that wins the war but at an unbearable price, breaking all hearts including his own.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is David Handler reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: David Handler, author of The Snow White Christmas Cookie: A Berger and Mitry Mystery.

His entry begins:
Don’t laugh, okay? I’m currently reading a children’s book. Or I should say re-reading one. My girlfriend Diana and I were talking recently about the books we’d read as little kids that made a lasting impression on us. Naturally, since the grown-up me has resorted to a life of crime fiction, I immediately mentioned the Hardy Boys. I loved Frank and Joe Hardy when I was a kid. But I was also a huge fan of Freddy the Pig, a nimble and intrepid detective who solved an assortment of barnyard crimes large and small on Mr. Bean’s farm. Freddy’s partner in detection was Mrs. Wiggins the Cow. And his best friend was Jinx the Cat. I remember the Freddy books as being witty and cleverly plotted. And yet whenever I mention my fond memories of them to friends I’m always met with blank stares. Some of them even think I’m pulling their leg. They refuse to believe that there was ever a pig detective, particularly a nimble and intrepid one.

Not so Diana, who was a children’s librarian when she first got out of college. She not only remembered the Freddy series by a gifted writer named Walter R. Brooks, who wrote for The New Yorker, but she discovered that the books are actually back in print after decades of oblivion. And so, to my delight, I can report that I am currently re-reading a landmark work of crime fiction called Freddy the Detective, complete with the original illustrations by Kurt Wiese. Freddy the Detective was originally published way back in 1932, but you wouldn’t know it. Like all classic literature it remains fresh and timeless. It’s also as...[read on]
About The Snow White Christmas Cookie, from the publisher:
The newest adventure featuring the mismatched romantic crime-fighting duo of New York City film critic Mitch Berger and Connecticut State Resident Trooper Desiree Mitry presents Des with her first taste of Christmas in the historic New England village of Dorset.

And what a taste it is. Three blizzards have blanketed the village in forty inches of snow. Bryce Peck, Mitch’s blue-blooded neighbor out on Big Sister Island, has just been found dead of a drug overdose. Young Kylie Champlain has slammed her car head-on into an office building after she’s caught trying to shoplift a pair of Ugg boots. And a grinch has taken to stealing the mail from Hank Merrill’s postal route, which happens to be the main route through the historic district.

Stealing the U.S. mail is a serious federal crime, but Des soon discovers that she’s onto something much bigger: a black-market prescription drug gang with ties to organized crime. And now a fourth blizzard is on its way. And so is another murder. And, somehow, the man in her life has managed to land himself smack dab in the middle of the whole mess. Not to mention that he’s in way over his head with Josie Cantro, the beautiful and treacherous life-coach who just may be responsible for it all. If Des doesn’t act fast, this will truly be a Christmas to remember---but for all of the wrong reasons.

David Handler’s ninth book in this original series is brimming with plenty of murder, mayhem, and holiday spirit.
Learn more about the book and author at David Handler's website and blog.

Writers Read: David Handler (October 2011).

Writers Read: David Handler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Stephen R. Bown's "The Last Viking," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Last Viking by Stephen R. Bown.

The entry begins:
People often say to me "That story is incredible - why doesn't someone make a documentary or a movie about it." I usually brush it off politely, because I know the story to be too complex or to require too much back-story to be make any sense to someone who hadn't already read the book. This is often the problem with non-fiction; the story, or parts of it, might be incredible but to remain true to the known facts you can't just adjust the story for length or dramatic impact, or make characters more admirable or likeable.

My latest book The Last Viking was no exception. Roald Amundsen is chiefly known for beating the British Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole in 1911. But in a remarkable career that spanned decades he also sailed the famed and feared Northwest Passage, sailed the Northeast Passage and then turned to airplanes when he couldn’t get his ship through the ice to the North Pole. Then he died mysteriously when his bi-plane disappeared into a fog bank on a rescue mission for another Polar explorer in 1928. I discovered hundreds of interviews, profiles and articles in the New York Times archives that revealed an entirely new aspect of his personality and showed that he was a famous celebrity in the United States for at least ten years before he died. He travelled the country delivering amusing and exciting slide lectures to audiences that included the political and cultural elite and was frequently in the news. How do you put all that into a 2 hour film?

Amazingly, I recently read that a major Hollywood movie is being planned featuring Amundsen...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Stephen R. Bown's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Viking.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten novels that are scarier than most horror movies

At io9 Amanda Yesilbas and Charlie Jane Anders came up with ten horror novels that are scarier than almost any movie.

One title on the list:
Haunted: A Novel in Stories by Chuck Palahniuk

The one-star and five-star reviews of this book actually say the same thing — it's absolutely disgusting and disturbing. A group of would-be writers answers an advertisement for a three-month writing retreat. When the attendees arrive, they're locked in an old-theater, with dwindling supplies. The novel is actually a series of short stories strung together under the artifice of the captives telling tales, and the tales become more horrifying and grotesque as the situation deteriorates. A situation made worse by the participants themselves, as they begin to practice murder and self-mutilation in the belief they are in some kind of reality show. It is said that when Palahniuk read the first tale "Guts" on book tour, people were fainting left and right. The reader is freaked out, not just by the graphic violence and unnerving supernatural bits — but also, the uncomfortable questions about what people will do for fame.
Read about another novel on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: David Hess's "Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy: Making and Keeping New Industries in the United States by David J. Hess.

About the book, from the publisher:
Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy is the first book to explore the broad implications of the convergence of industrial and environnmental policy in the United States. Under the banner of “green jobs,” clean energy industries and labor, environmental, and antipoverty organizations have forged “blue-green” alliances and achieved some policy victories, most notably at the state and local levels. In this book, David Hess explores the politics of green energy and green jobs, linking the prospect of a green transition to tectonic shifts in the global economy. He argues that the relative decline in U.S. economic power sets the stage for an ideological shift, away from neoliberalism and toward “developmentalism,” an ideology characterized by a more defensive posture with respect to trade and a more active industrial policy.

After describing federal green energy initiatives in the first two years of the Obama administration, Hess turns his attention to the state and local levels, examining demand-side and supply-side support for green industry and local small business. He analyzes the successes and failures of green coalitions and the partisan patterns of support for green energy reform. This new piecemeal green industrial policy, Hess argues, signals a fundamental challenge to anti-interventionist beliefs about the relationship between the government and the economy.
Learn more about Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy at the MIT Press website and David J. Hess' website.

Hess is Professor of Sociology at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Alternative Pathways in Science and Industry: Activism, Innovation, and the Environment in an Era of Globalization (2007) and Localist Movements in a Global Economy: Sustainability, Justice, and Urban Development in the United States (2009), and many other books.

The Page 99 Test: Localist Movements in a Global Economy.

The Page 99 Test: Good Green Jobs in a Global Economy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: D.J. McIntosh's "The Witch of Babylon"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Witch of Babylon by D.J. McIntosh.

About the book, from the publisher:
Out of the searing heat and sandstorms of the infamous summer of 2003 in Baghdad comes The Witch of Babylon, a gripping story rooted in ancient Assyrian lore and its little-known but profound significance for the world.

John Madison is a Turkish-American art dealer raised by his much older brother, Samuel, a mover and shaker in New York's art world. Caught between his brother's obsession with saving a priceless relic looted from Iraq's National Museum and a deadly game of revenge staged by his childhood friend, John must solve a puzzle to find the link between a modern-day witch and an ancient one.

Aided by Tomas, an archaeologist, and Ari, an Iraqi photojournalist—two men with their own secrets to hide—John races against time to decipher a biblical prophecy that leads to the dark history behind the science of alchemy. Kidnapped by villainous fortune hunters, John is returned to Iraq, where a fabulous treasure trove awaits discovery—if he can stay alive long enough to find it.
Learn more about the book and author at D.J. McIntosh's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Witch of Babylon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 26, 2012

What is Barbara Mariconda reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Barbara Mariconda, author of The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons.

Her entry begins:
I always have a pile of books beside my bathtub, spend the last hour of every evening up to my chin in warm water, reading. Relaxing. Sometimes, if the book is just okay, I’ll nod off - in fact, you can identify the less riveting books on my shelves by the curled, rumpled pages of titles that have taken a dip in the suds after putting me to sleep.

Two books that have stayed high and dry and kept me awake much later than they should have are Body and Soul by Frank Conroy and Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr. The first, a novel, written back in the 90’s, the latter, a prophetic reflection on what spiritual maturity means, and the richness that comes with it.

I picked up Body and Soul at a small independent book store in Chapel Hill, N.C. at the recommendation of a helpful, well-read book seller. It’s the story of concert pianist Claude Rawlings, set just after World War II. The story begins with five year old Claude, lonely and isolated, living in NYC with his mother, whose attitude toward the boy is one of not-so-benign neglect. Spending most of his days alone in a basement apartment, Claude becomes fascinated with...[read on]
About The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons, from the publisher:
An enchanted flute that vibrates when danger is near, sparkling mist that unlocks a drawer of family secrets, and a bookcase that expands to conceal her hiding place—these are the bits of magic Lucy P. Simmons has experienced since her parents drowned at sea.

The magic is helping Lucy keep her house—Father's beloved "ship on shore"—out of the hands of her greedy uncle Victor. Lucy thinks the magic is coming from Marni, a mysterious woman who seems to be one with the sea itself ... and who bears a striking resemblance to the mythical siren in the painting in Father's study.

Together, Lucy and Marni devise a plan to stop Uncle Victor's conniving ways. In the process, Lucy makes unexpected friends and discovers that courage may be the most powerful magic of all. But will it be enough to prevail in the face of her evil uncle?

Barbara Mariconda's beautifully written and timeless story overflows with dazzling magic, swashbuckling adventure, and good, old-fashioned heart.
Visit Barbara Mariconda's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Barbara Mariconda and Little Man.

Writers Read: Barbara Mariconda.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ronald Hendel's "The Book of 'Genesis'"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: The Book of "Genesis": A Biography by Ronald Hendel.

About the book, from the publisher:
During its 2,500-year life, the book of Genesis has been the keystone to almost every important claim about reality, humanity, and God in Judaism and Christianity. And it continues to play a central role in debates about science, politics, and human rights. With clarity and skill, acclaimed biblical scholar Ronald Hendel provides a panoramic history of this iconic book, exploring its impact on Western religion, philosophy, science, politics, literature, and more.

Hendel traces how Genesis has shaped views of reality, and how changing views of reality have shaped interpretations of Genesis. Literal and figurative readings have long competed with each other. Hendel tells how Luther's criticisms of traditional figurative accounts of Genesis undermined the Catholic Church; how Galileo made the radical argument that the cosmology of Genesis wasn't scientific evidence; and how Spinoza made the equally radical argument that the scientific method should be applied to Genesis itself. Indeed, Hendel shows how many high points of Western thought and art have taken the form of encounters with Genesis--from Paul and Augustine to Darwin, Emily Dickinson, and Kafka.

From debates about slavery, gender, and sexuality to the struggles over creationism and evolution, Genesis has shaped our world and continues to do so today. This wide-ranging account tells the remarkable story of the life of Genesis like no other book.
Learn more about The Book of "Genesis" at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Book of "Genesis".

--Marshal Zeringue

Five notable books of ghost stories

One title on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books of ghost stories:
Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories
by M. R. James

The classic short fiction of M. R. James -- in which scholarly sorts stumble into uncanny encounters while puttering about libraries or country houses or libraries in country houses -- is splendidly elegant, chilling, and creepy; top-notch entertainment for an autumn evening. This is the first of two volumes of the master's complete ghost stories. You can find the second volume here -- if you dare.
Read about another book on the list.

Also see: Kate Mosse's top 10 ghost stories, Peter Washington's top ten ghost stories, and Brad Leithauser's five best ghost stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Michelle Cooper's "The FitzOsbornes at War," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The FitzOsbornes at War by Michelle Cooper.

The entry begins:
The FitzOsbornes at War is the final novel in the Montmaray Journals trilogy. The royal family of Montmaray fled their remote island kingdom in 1937 when the Nazis attacked. But now that war has come to England and the rest of the world – nowhere is safe.

When I began writing this series, I envisaged Prince Toby, the charming but indolent heir to the Montmaravian throne, as a young Jude Law. I now have a few readers who are convinced that Sam Claflin would be ideal for the role of Toby. However, as I haven’t seen any of Sam Claflin’s performances, I think I’ll go with Bradley James, because he can do a posh British accent and knows how to handle a sword.

Toby’s enigmatic cousin Simon needs to be played by someone tall, dark and broodingly handsome – perhaps Ben...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Michelle Cooper's website.

Writers Read: Michelle Cooper (May 2011).

Writers Read: Michelle Cooper.

My Book, The Movie: The FitzOsbornes at War.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Yona Zeldis McDonough reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of A Wedding in Great Neck.

Her entry begins:
I recently read Heft, by Liz Moore. The protagonist of this wholly original, moving story weighs 500 pounds and has not been out of his house in years. His gradual emergence from his loneliness and seclusion is set against the story of a teen-aged boy who loses his mother—and who may or may not be his son. The characters were so real, so convincing and so deeply human it was impossible not to love them all, and to wish ardently for ...[read on]
About A Wedding in Great Neck, from the publisher:
The Silverstein family is coming together in Great Neck, Long Island, for the nuptials of the youngest daughter. Always considered the favorite—and the object of much envy and resentment—Angelica has planned a fairy tale wedding to her fiancé, a former fighter pilot. But there are storm clouds on the horizon.

Gretchen, Angelica’s sister, is dealing with a failed marriage and her moody teenage daughter Justine. One brother is a callous businessman while the other is struggling with his search for love and a career. Her mother is in a battle of wills with the wedding planner, while her father, a recovering alcoholic, struggles to confront his ex-wife’s lavish new life in the Long Island manor of her dreams. And her grandmother Lenore has decided it’s high time to take charge and set her grandchildren on their proper paths.

Then an impulsive act by Justine puts the entire wedding at risk and brings the simmering family tensions to the boiling point. Before vows are exchanged, this day will change more than one life forever…
Learn more about the author and her work at Yona Zeldis McDonough's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Yona Zeldis McDonough & Queenie, Willa and Holden.

The Page 69 Test: A Wedding in Great Neck.

Writers Read: Yona Zeldis McDonough.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books with maps

Simon Garfield's acclaimed books of nonfiction include last year's Just My Type: A Book about Fonts.

His new book, On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks, is available now in the UK and hits the US in December 2012.

One of Garfield's top ten books with maps, as told to the Guardian:
Masquerade by Kit Williams

A sensation when it was published in 1979, Williams made map detectives of all who fell under its spell. Paintings in his book held clues to where he had buried a golden filigree hare in the English countryside, with readers submitting guess-maps of the location to the author before they started digging. Alas the lucky claimant turned out to be a fraud, obtaining the coordinates by knowing someone who knew Williams' ex-girlfriend, thus also claiming our innocence in the process.
Read about another book on the list.

Visit Simon Garfield's website.

The Page 99 Test: Simon Garfield's Just My Type.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ashraf H. A. Rushdy's "American Lynching"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: American Lynching by Ashraf H. A. Rushdy.

About the book, from the publisher:
After observing the varying reactions to the 1998 death of James Byrd Jr. in Texas, called a lynching by some, denied by others, Ashraf Rushdy determined that to comprehend this event he needed to understand the long history of lynching in the United States. In this meticulously researched and accessibly written interpretive history, Rushdy shows how lynching in America has endured, evolved, and changed in meaning over the course of three centuries, from its origins in early Virginia to the present day.

Rushdy argues that we can understand what lynching means in American history by examining its evolution—that is, by seeing how the practice changes in both form and meaning over the course of three centuries, by analyzing the rationales its advocates have made in its defense, and, finally, by explicating its origins. The best way of understanding what lynching has meant in different times, and for different populations, during the course of American history is by seeing both the continuities in the practice over time and the specific features in different forms of lynching in different eras.
Learn more about American Lynching at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: American Lynching.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Judith Rock's "A Plague of Lies"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: A Plague of Lies by Judith Rock.

About the book, from the publisher:
In her historic mysteries The Rhetoric of Death and The Eloquence of Blood, Judith Rock created an atmosphere that "takes you back to fascinating and dangerous seventeenth-century Paris so well that I suspect her of being a time-traveler who's been there" (Ariana Franklin, national bestselling author of A Murderous Procession). Now, the latest novel to feature Charles du Luc finds the ex-soldier-turned-Jesuit caught up in royal intrigue...

Versailles, 1687

Madame de Maintenon is King Louis XIV’s second wife. The daughter of a minor noble of ill-repute, she has not forgiven the king's Jesuit confessor for encouraging him to withhold the title of Queen from her. To placate her, the prestigious Louis le Grand Jesuit school has sent a delegation—including her distant cousin Pere Jouvancy and rhetoric teacher Charles du Luc—to Versailles with a gift of reliquary.

But while the Sun King’s palace might be spectacular, this visit is anything but pleasant. Their first night, a courtier dies, and court whispers claim poison. Then the Jesuit delegation falls direly ill, and a palace gardener is found murdered. Fear grips a court already on edge. In the midst of all this, Charles learns that one of his students is in love with the king’s rebellious (and betrothed) daughter, and may ruin not only himself, but all of them…
Learn more about the book and author at Judith Rock's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Plague of Lies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Five top brief biographies

Paul Johnson's latest book is Darwin.

One of his five favorite brief biographies, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
Ulysses S. Grant
by Michael Korda (2004)

Americans make very good biographers for thoroughness. But they write on an ample scale, and short biographies are rare. But they do occur, and one I admire is Michael Korda's "Ulysses S. Grant." Here was a man whose early life was humble and marked by failure, but once he got a grip on success he was unusually proficient. He contrived to end the Civil War, and to end it on a note of grace, to serve two terms as president, and then to write one of the most successful books in American literature. As Korda says, in the late 19th century, in every American home, you could count on finding two books, the Bible and Grant's memoirs. Korda manages to bring this man alive, and nail down his qualities and significance, in 158 short pages.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is John Shelton Reed reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: John Shelton Reed, author of Dixie Bohemia: A French Quarter Circle in the 1920s.

Part of his entry:
[H]aving just finished a book about New Orleans and having lived in the French Quarter for a good while to write it, I have begun to reread John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, perhaps the first great novel ever set in that strange and wonderful city. I loved it when I read it 25 years ago, and it’s even better now that I know the setting first-hand....[read on]
About Dixie Bohemia, from the publisher:
In the years following World War I, the New Orleans French Quarter attracted artists and writers with its low rents, faded charm, and colorful street life. By the 1920s Jackson Square had become the center of a vibrant if short-lived bohemia. A young William Faulkner and his roommate William Spratling, an artist who taught at Tulane University, resided among the “artful and crafty ones of the French Quarter.” In Dixie Bohemia John Shelton Reed introduces Faulkner’s circle of friends—ranging from the distinguished Sherwood Anderson to a gender-bending Mardi Gras costume designer—and brings to life the people and places of New Orleans in the Jazz Age.

Reed begins with Faulkner and Spratling’s self-published homage to their fellow bohemians, “Sherwood Anderson and Other Famous Creoles.” The book contained 43 sketches of New Orleans artists, by Spratling, with captions and a short introduction by Faulkner. The title served as a rather obscure joke: Sherwood was not a Creole and neither were most of the people featured. But with Reed’s commentary, these profiles serve as an entry into the world of artists and writers that dined on Decatur Street, attended masked balls, and blatantly ignored the Prohibition Act. These men and women also helped to establish New Orleans institutions such as the Double Dealer literary magazine, the Arts & Crafts Club, and Le Petit Theatre. But unlike most bohemias, the one in New Orleans existed as a whites-only affair. Though some of the bohemians were relatively progressive, and many employed African American material in their own work, few of them knew or cared about what was going on across town among the city’s black intellectuals and artists.

The positive developments from this French Quarter renaissance, however, attracted attention and visitors, inspiring the historic preservation and commercial revitalization that turned the area into a tourist destination. Predictably, this gentrification drove out many of the working artists and writers who had helped revive the area. As Reed points out, one resident who identified herself as an “artist” on the 1920 federal census gave her occupation in 1930 as “saleslady, real estate,” reflecting the decline of an active artistic class.

A charming and insightful glimpse into an era, Dixie Bohemia describes the writers, artists, poseurs, and hangers-on in the New Orleans art scene of the 1920s and illuminates how this dazzling world faded as quickly as it began.
Learn more about Dixie Bohemia at the Louisiana State University Press website and John Shelton Reed's website.

The Page 99 Test: Dixie Bohemia.

Writers Read: John Shelton Reed.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Simon Read's "Human Game"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Human Game: The True Story of the 'Great Escape' Murders and the Hunt for the Gestapo Gunmen by Simon Read.

About the book, from the publisher:
In March and April of 1944, Gestapo gunmen killed fifty POWs—a brutal act in defiance of international law and the Geneva Convention.

This is the true story of the men who hunted them down

The mass breakout of seventy-six Allied airmen from the infamous Stalag Luft III became one of the greatest tales of World War II, immortalized in the film The Great Escape. But where Hollywood’s depiction fades to black, another incredible story begins...

Not long after the escape, fifty of the recaptured airmen were taken to desolate killing fields throughout Germany and shot on the direct orders of Hitler. When the nature of these killings came to light, Churchill’s government swore to pursue justice at any cost. A revolving team of military police, led by squadron leader Francis P. McKenna, was dispatched to Germany seventeen months after the killings to pick up a trail long gone cold.

Amid the chaos of postwar Germany, divided between American, British, French, and Russian occupiers, McKenna and his men brought twenty-one Gestapo killers to justice in a hunt that spanned three years and took them into the darkest realms of Nazi fanaticism.

In Human Game, Simon Read tells this harrowing story as never before. Beginning inside Stalag Luft III and the Nazi High Command, through the grueling three-year manhunt, and into the final close of the case more than two decades later, Read delivers a clear-eyed and meticulously researched account of this often-overlooked saga of hard-won justice.
Learn more about the author and his work at Simon Read's website.

Read was an award-winning journalist before he became a nonfiction author.  His books include In the Dark and War of Words.

The Page 69 Test: In the Dark.

My Book, The Movie: In the Dark.

The Page 69 Test: War of Words.

My Book, The Movie: Human Game.

The Page 99 Test: Human Game.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Donna Cooner & Cassidy and Roxanne

Today's featured trio at Coffee with a Canine: Donna Cooner & Cassidy and Roxanne.

The author, on how she and her dogs were united:
Cassidy was the first chocolate Labrador Retriever I’d had and she is such a sweetheart. Smart. Gentle. Easy to train. I absolutely fell in love with the breed. When she started to lose her sight and slow down with age, I thought I’d find another lab puppy to join her.

Even though Roxanne is the same breed, she was a totally different “child.” Funny and a little manic, she’s definitely...[read on]
About Donna Cooner's new YA novel Skinny, from the publisher:
Find your voice.Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies's head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she'll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.But there is another voice: Ever's singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical, and partly to try and save her own life, Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.Donna Cooner brings warmth, wit, and startling insight to this unforgettable debut.
Learn more about the book and author at Donna Cooner's website, blog, and Facebook page.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Donna Cooner & Cassidy and Roxanne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Amanda Bennett's "The Cost of Hope," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Cost of Hope by Amanda Bennett.

The entry begins:
The most important characters to cast in The Cost of Hope are Terence, and me. The book is the story of our stormy relationship, and what we became, and especially what his illness brought to our lives. It’s about how the two of us met in a China so long ago the capital was still called Peking, of how we fought like street dogs, got married, raised a family, how I became an investigative journalist and he became a professor and we moved all around the country and then he got cancer and together we fought it and then he died. It sounds like a movie script, but it was our life. After he died, I went back and got all the records and re-interviewed the doctors and everyone who took care of us and tried to make sense of the choices we had all made.

Our life was full of movies. We loved film noir. He loved madcap comedy. (I hated it). The movies we watched were full of prototypes for the dueling-couples-in-love motif. How about Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier in...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at the official The Cost of Hope website and Facebook page.

See--Amanda Bennett's five best tales of stormy couples.

My Book, The Movie: The Cost of Hope.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Dan Josefson reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Dan Josefson, author of That’s Not a Feeling.

His entry begins:
The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector

There’s an intensity to this book that is both frightening and fascinating—it tells too much, is too opinionated, and then it lurches back and places everything in a balanced, almost cosmic perspective. I worry a bit whether the narrator and author are being too dismissive, too cruel to the main character. But then I wonder whether this book doesn’t work like Don Quixote or Pnin, where the character is elevated by surviving her unfair treatment at the hands of the author. Either way, this book is unique and, I suspect, unforgettable. I’m enjoying arguing with myself about it almost as much as...[read on]
About That’s Not a Feeling, from the publisher:
Benjamin arrives with his parents for a tour of Roaring Orchards, a therapeutic boarding school tucked away in upstate New York. Suddenly, his parents are gone and Benjamin learns that he is there to stay. Sixteen years old, a two-time failed suicide, Benjamin must navigate his way through a new world of morning meds, popped privileges, candor meetings and cartoon brunches--all run by adults who themselves have yet to really come of age.

The only person who comprehends the school's many rules and rituals is Aubrey, the founder and headmaster. Fragile, brilliant, and prone to rage, he is as likely to use his authority to reward students as to punish them. But when Aubrey falls ill, life at the school begins to unravel. Benjamin has no one to rely on but the other students, especially Tidbit, an intriguing but untrustworthy girl with a "self-afflicting personality." More and more, Benjamin thinks about running away from Roaring Orchards--but he feels an equal need to know just what it is he would be leaving behind.
Learn more about the book and author at Dan Josefson's website.

The Page 69 Test: That's Not a Feeling.

My Book, The Movie: That’s Not a Feeling.

Writers Read: Dan Josefson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books with overweight protagonists

Jami Attenberg's new novel is The Middlesteins.

Jonathan Franzen (author of Freedom) says: “The Middlesteins had me from its very first pages, but it wasn’t until its final pages that I fully appreciated the range of Attenberg’s sympathy and the artistry of her storytelling.”

At The Week magazine Attenberg named her six favorite books with overweight protagonists.  One title on the list:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

This novel rocked me when it came out. Oscar is an overweight Dominican kid from Paterson, N.J., who is obsessed with comic books and science fiction. Though he lives a life of the mind initially, he ends up leading an epic adventure. This book is about being a hero.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao also appears among Brooke Hauser's six top books about immigrants, Sara Gruen's six favorite books, Paste magazine's list of the ten best debut novels of the decade (2000-2009), and The Millions' best books of fiction of the millenium. The novel is one of Matthew Kaminski's five favorite novels about immigrants in America and is a book that made a difference to Zoë Saldana.

The Page 99 Test: Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Lucia McMahon's "Mere Equals"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Mere Equals: The Paradox of Educated Women in the Early American Republic by Lucia McMahon.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Mere Equals, Lucia McMahon narrates a story about how a generation of young women who enjoyed access to new educational opportunities made sense of their individual and social identities in an American nation marked by stark political inequality between the sexes. McMahon's archival research into the private documents of middling and well-to-do Americans in northern states illuminates educated women’s experiences with particular life stages and relationship arcs: friendship, family, courtship, marriage, and motherhood. In their personal and social relationships, educated women attempted to live as the "mere equals" of men. Their often frustrated efforts reveal how early national Americans grappled with the competing issues of women’s intellectual equality and sexual difference.

In the new nation, a pioneering society, pushing westward and unmooring itself from established institutions, often enlisted women’s labor outside the home and in areas that we would deem public. Yet, as a matter of law, women lacked most rights of citizenship and this subordination was authorized by an ideology of sexual difference. What women and men said about education, how they valued it, and how they used it to place themselves and others within social hierarchies is a highly useful way to understand the ongoing negotiation between equality and difference. In public documents, “difference” overwhelmed “equality,” because the formal exclusion of women from political activity and from economic parity required justification. McMahon tracks the ways in which this public disparity took hold in private communications. By the 1830s, separate and gendered spheres were firmly in place. This was the social and political heritage with which women’s rights activists would contend for the rest of the century.
Learn more about Mere Equals at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Mere Equals.

--Marshal Zeringue