Friday, November 30, 2012

Anne Lawrence-Mathers's "The True History of Merlin the Magician," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The True History of Merlin the Magician by Anne Lawrence-Mathers.

The entry begins:
When I wrote The True History of Merlin the Magician I had no real visual image of Merlin in my mind – how can you tie down someone who ‘lived’ from the 5th century to the 16th, and took the forms of boy-prophet, scholar, doctor, hermit, Welsh warrior-prince and half-demon, to one physical incarnation or appearance? The one thing I was clear about was that the historical Merlin was not the aged sage in a pointy hat seen in Disney’s version.

But, once I started to think about Merlin as a movie, the actor to play Merlin was obviously Johnny Depp. A blend of Edward Scissorhands, Captain Jack Sparrow and The Mad Hatter is about as close to the Merlin of medieval chronicles and prophecies as I can imagine – though adding to these the hermit who can see to the very end of time and understands the secrets of the earth might be a stretch even for Johnny Depp. Of course, since Merlin can change shape, and take on the appearance of any person he chooses, this movie would not need to be restricted to...[read on]
Learn more about The True History of Merlin the Magician at the Yale University Press website.

Anne Lawrence-Mathers is senior lecturer in medieval history at the University of Reading.

My Book, The Movie: The True History of Merlin the Magician.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Mario Erasmo's "Death: Antiquity and Its Legacy"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Death: Antiquity and Its Legacy by Mario Erasmo.

About the book, from the publisher:
Personal and yet universal, inevitable and unknowable, death has been a dominant theme in all cultures since earliest times. Remarkably, across the span of several millennia and despite the myriad of cultural profusions since antiquity, we can recognize in the customs of ancient Greece and Rome ceremonies and rituals that have lasting resonance today in both the East and West. For example, preparing the corpse of the deceased, holding a memorial service, the practice of cremation and of burial in "resting places" are all processes that can trace their origin to ancient practices. Such rites-described by Cicero and Herodotus, among others-have defined traditional modern funerals. Yet of late there has been a shift away from classical ritual and somber memorialization as the dead are transformed into spectacles. Impromptu roadside shrines, "virtual" memorials, the embalmment of the deceased in the attitude of daily activity, and even firework displays have come to the fore as new modes of marking, even celebrating, bereavement. What is causing this change, and how do urbanization, economic factors, and the rise of individualism play a part? Mario Erasmo creatively explicates and explores the nexus between classical and contemporary approaches to death and interment. From theme funerals in St. Louis to Etruscan sarcophagi, he offers a rich and insightful discussion of the end of life across the ages.
Learn more about Death: Antiquity and Its Legacy at the Oxford University Press website.

Mario Erasmo is professor of classics at the University of Georgia and the author of four books on ancient Roman culture and the legacy of classical antiquity, including Reading Death in Ancient Rome and Roman Tragedy: Theatre to Theatricality. His forthcoming Strolling Through Rome: The Definitive Walking Guide to the Eternal City guides visitors step by step through the historic areas and eras of Rome.

The Page 99 Test: Death: Antiquity and Its Legacy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top literary subjects

The famed literary editor and author Robert Gottlieb's latest book is the new biography, Great Expectations: the Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens.

For The Daily Beast, Gottlieb named five great literary subjects, "those men and women who never cease to fascinate, whose lives we can follow again and again in various reiterations." One entry on the list:
Charles Dickens

Not only one of the world’s greatest and best-loved novelists, but the most famous Englishman of his time, he was a man of charm, magnetism, inner turbulence, and self-destructive contradictions. You can safely choose among the five major biographies of the last half-century or so—Edgar Johnson, Fred Kaplan, Peter Ackroyd, Michael Slater, and Claire Tomalin; each has its large virtues. Or you can go back to the basic book, written within three years of his death by his closest friend John Forster. “The inimitable” bursts through all of them.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Colleen and John Marzluff & Reese, Digit and Bellatrix

Today's featured pack at Coffee with a Canine: Colleen and John Marzluff & Reese, Digit and Bellatrix.

On each dog's best quality:
We used to have Siberian Huskies who are notorious for running off, so having three dogs that will stay with you off leash is a quality that I really appreciate.

Reese is a real cuddler and great for when you need a dog fix which is why she makes a great pet therapy dog.

Bellatrix is good for a laugh, especially when she watches tv or the computer or chases random flashes of light when she is in the car or herds the waves at the beach.

Digit is a clown and...[read on]
About John M. Marzluff and Colleen Marzluff's Dog Days, Raven Nights, from the publisher:
Twenty years ago, fresh out of graduate school and recently married, John and Colleen Marzluff left Arizona for a small cabin in the mountains of western Maine. Their mission: to conduct the first-ever extensive study of the winter ecology of the Common Raven under the tutelage of biologist Bernd Heinrich.

Drawing on field notes and personal diaries, they vividly and eloquently chronicle their three-year endeavor to research a mysterious and often misunderstood bird—assembling a gigantic aviary, climbing sentry trees, building bird blinds in the forest, capturing and sustaining 300 ravens as study subjects, and enduring harsh Maine winters in pursuit of their goal. They also shared the unique challenges and joys of raising, training, and racing the sled dogs that assisted them in their work.

Accompanied by Evon Zerbetz's lovely linocut illustrations, Dog Days, Raven Nights is a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the adventures of field science and an insightful exploration of the nature of relationships, both animal and human.
John Marzluff's books include In the Company of Crows and Ravens and Gifts of the Crow.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Colleen and John Marzluff & Reese, Digit and Bellatrix.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Joy Fielding's "Shadow Creek"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Shadow Creek by Joy Fielding.

About the book, from the publisher:
There’s something deadly lurking in the shadows at Shadow Creek...

Due to a last-minute change in plans, a group of unlikely traveling companions finds themselves on a camping trip in the Adirondacks. They include the soon-to-be-divorced Valerie; her oddball friends, Melissa and James; her moody teenage daughter, Brianne; and Val’s estranged husband’s fiancée, Jennifer. Val is dealing with unresolved feelings toward her ex and grappling with jealousy and resentment toward his younger, prettier new flame, a woman with some serious issues of her own. Brianne is sixteen and openly rebellious, caught up in a web of secrets and lies.

What Val and her companions don’t know is that a pair of crazed killers is wreaking havoc in the very same woods. When an elderly couple is found slaughtered and Brianne goes missing, Val finds herself in a nightmare much worse than anything she could have anticipated. She was half-expecting it to be the trip from hell, but what she never could have predicted was that this impromptu little excursion.
Learn more about the book and author at Joy Fielding's website.

The Page 69 Test: Shadow Creek.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What is Felix Gilman reading?

The current Featured contributor at Writers Read: Feliz Gilman, author of The Rise Of Ransom City.

Part of his entry:
At the moment -- having just handed in a novel draft to my editor, and started laying down groundwork for a new project -- I'm mostly reading for research. This means a big pile of books on:
-- General historical works that have struck my fancy. I read Huizinga's Decline of the Middle Ages years and years ago at university; it's even better re-reading it than I remembered - a beautiful book. Very old now and probably outdated now but that's OK; I'm reading more for inspiration than for the sake of strict fidelity to facts. A lot of what I want is out of print and I don't have convenient library access at the moment, so I'm dependent on what happens to be available online at a reasonable price. That's OK too; I like the element of...[read on]
About The Rise of Ransom City, from the publisher:
This is the story Harry Ransom. If you know his name it’s most likely as the inventor of the Ransom Process, a stroke of genius that changed the world.

Or you may have read about how he lost the battle of Jasper City, or won it, depending on where you stand in matters of politics.

Friends called him Hal or Harry, or by one of a half-dozen aliases, of which he had more than any honest man should. He often went by Professor Harry Ransom, and though he never had anything you might call a formal education, he definitely earned it.

If you’re reading this in the future, Ransom City must be a great and glittering metropolis by now, with a big bronze statue of Harry Ransom in a park somewhere. You might be standing on its sidewalk and not wonder in the least of how it grew to its current glory. Well, here is its story, full of adventure and intrigue. And it all starts with the day that old Harry Ransom crossed paths with Liv Alverhyusen and John Creedmoor, two fugitives running from the Line, amidst a war with no end.
Learn more about the book and author at Felix Gilman's website and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Feliz Gilman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: John Hannigan’s "Disasters Without Borders"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Disasters Without Borders: The International Politics of Natural Disasters by John Hannigan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Dramatic scenes of devastation and suffering caused by disasters such as the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, are viewed with shock and horror by millions of us across the world. What we rarely see, however, are the international politics of disaster aid, mitigation and prevention that condition the collective response to natural catastrophes around the world. In this book, respected Canadian environmental sociologist John Hannigan argues that the global community of nations has failed time and again in establishing an effective and binding multilateral mechanism for coping with disasters, especially in the more vulnerable countries of the South.

Written in an accessible and even-handed manner, Disasters without Borders it is the first comprehensive account of the key milestones, debates, controversies and research relating to the international politics of natural disasters. Tracing the historical evolution of this policy field from its humanitarian origins in WWI right up to current efforts to cast climate change as the prime global driver of disaster risk, it highlights the ongoing mismatch between the way disaster has been conceptualised and the institutional architecture in place to manage it. The book’s bold conclusion predicts the confluence of four emerging trends - politicisation/militarisation, catastrophic scenario building, privatisation of risk, and quantification, which could create a new system of disaster management wherein 'insurance logic' will replace humanitarian concern as the guiding principle.

Disasters Without Borders is an ideal introductory text for students, lecturers and practitioners in the fields of international development studies, disaster management, politics and international affairs, and environmental geography/sociology.
Learn more about Disasters Without Borders at the John Wiley & Sons website.

John Hannigan is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Environmental Sociology and Fantasy City: Pleasure and Profit in the Postmodern Metropolis.

The Page 99 Test: Disasters Without Borders.

--Marshal Zeringue

Giveaway: "Well Met: Renaissance Faires and the American Counterculture"

New York University Press and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a copy of Well Met: Renaissance Faires and the American Counterculture by Rachel Lee Rubin.

HOW TO ENTER: Visit the Campaign for the American Reader Facebook page, scroll down, and "like" the post for Well Met.

Contest closes on Friday, December 14th. Winner must have a US mailing address. Good luck!

Learn more about Well Met at the New York University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top 10 time travel books

Michael Brooks is a consultant for New Scientist and the author of 13 Things That Don't Make Sense and Can We Travel Through Time?

He named a top ten list of time travel books for the Guardian, including:
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain

Laugh-out-loud funny one moment, astute social commentary the next. Twain's protagonist takes advantage of his knowledge to set up the infrastructure of a civilised society. The book is a thinly-disguised celebration of what Twain valued most about 19th-century American life: religious tolerance, egalitarianism, education for all, scientific thinking, human dignity and manufacturing industry. It would be interesting to bring Twain to our times and ask whether he thinks America has stayed true to its origins or become a new version of medieval Britain.
Read about another book on the list.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is the book Roman Simic most likes to re-read.

--Marshal Zeringue

Timothy Hallinan's "Crashed," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Crashed by Timothy Hallinan.

The entry begins:
My newest book, Crashed, is the first in a series featuring Junior Bender, a San Fernando Valley burglar who moonlights, usually reluctantly, as a private eye for crooks. I've been fascinated for years with the shadow world of crooks, which exists in the same towns and on the same streets as the world most of us inhabit. But let me tell you, a block of nice houses is a different landscape for a burglar than it is for someone who lives there.

The books are funny, although the mysteries are real, people actually get killed, and there's nothing “cozy” about them. If I were a film director pitching the idea (which has, in fact, been bought for movies) I'd describe them as “Monty Python noir.”

In addition to being a burglar, Junior is an unhappily divorced man and the father of a thirteen-year-old daughter, Rina, whom he loves more than anything else in the world. He's eminently plausible as a straightforward middle-class, middle-thirties guy, and he can easily muster a convincing semblance of innocence. The other thing about him that matters (for casting) is that he's nearly always the smartest guy in the room.

I've always been drawn to actors who seem to have a dozen things going on in their minds beyond the words they're saying. My first thought for Junior was Robert...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Timothy Hallinan's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Crashed.

My Book, The Movie: Crashed.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What is Stephen M. Feldman reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Stephen M. Feldman, author of Neoconservative Politics and the Supreme Court: Law, Power, and Democracy.

His entry begins:
I just finished reading Ann Patchett’s The Magician’s Assistant. To say that I loved this book would be an understatement. The protagonist, Sabine, is a devoted resident of Los Angeles. Her gay husband has recently died, and through an evolving series of odd events, she ends up visiting his estranged family (mother, sisters, and nephews) in Alliance, Nebraska. I have never lived in L.A., and I don’t live in Nebraska. But I grew up in New York, lived in San Francisco, and currently reside in Laramie, Wyoming, only a few hours from Alliance. Patchett’s comedic contrast between life on the coast and in the heartland is...[read on]
About  Neoconservative Politics and the Supreme Court, from the publisher:
In this concise, timely book, constitutional law expert Stephen M. Feldman draws on neoconservative writings to explore the rise of the neocons and their influence on the Supreme Court. Neocons burst onto the political scene in the early 1980s via their assault on pluralist democracy’s ethical relativism, where no pre-existing or higher principles limit the agendas of interest groups. Instead, they advocated for a resurrection of republican democracy, which declares that virtuous citizens and officials pursue the common good. Yet despite their original goals, neocons quickly became an interest group themselves, competing successfully within the pluralist democratic arena. When the political winds shifted in 2008, however, neocons found themselves shorn of power in Congress and the executive branch. But portentously, they still controlled the Supreme Court.

Neoconservative Politics and the Supreme Court explains how and why the neoconservatives criticized but operated within pluralist democracy, and, most important, what the entrenchment of neocons on the Supreme Court means for present and future politics and law.
Learn more about Neoconservative Politics and the Supreme Court at the New York University Press website.

Stephen M. Feldman is the Jerry W. Housel/Carl F. Arnold Distinguished Professor of Law and Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Wyoming. His previous books include Free Expression and Democracy in America: A History and American Legal Thought From Premodernism to Postmodernism: An Intellectual Voyage. Free Expression and Democracy.

Writers Read: Stephen M. Feldman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Oren Bar-Gill's "Seduction By Contract"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Seduction by Contract: Law, Economics, and Psychology in Consumer Markets by Oren Bar-Gill.

About the book, from the publisher:
Consumers routinely enter into long-term contracts with providers of goods and services - from credit cards, mortgages, cell phones, insurance, TV, and internet services to household appliances, theatre and sports events, health clubs, magazine subscriptions, transportation, and more. Across these consumer markets certain design features of contracts are recurrent, and puzzling. Why do sellers design contracts to provide short-term benefits and impose long-term costs? Why are low introductory prices so common? Why are the contracts themselves so complex, with numerous fees and interest rates, tariffs and penalties?

Seduction by Contract explains how consumer contracts emerge from the interaction between market forces and consumer psychology. Consumers are short-sighted and optimistic, so sellers compete to offer short-term benefits, while imposing long-term costs. Consumers are imperfectly rational, so sellers hide the true costs of products and services in complex contracts. Consumers are seduced by contracts that increase perceived benefits, without actually providing more benefits, and decrease perceived costs, without actually reducing the costs that consumers ultimately bear.

Competition does not help this behavioural market failure. It may even exacerbate it. Sellers, operating in a competitive market, have no choice but to align contract design with the psychology of consumers. A high-road seller who offers what she knows to be the best contract will lose business to the low-road seller who offers what the consumer mistakenly believes to be the best contract. Put bluntly, competition forces sellers to exploit the biases and misperceptions of their customers.

Seduction by Contract argues that better legal policy can help consumers and enhance market efficiency. Disclosure mandates provide a promising avenue for regulatory intervention. Simple, aggregate disclosures can help consumers make better choices. Comprehensive disclosures can facilitate the work of intermediaries, enabling them to better advise consumers. Effective disclosure would expose the seductive nature of consumer contracts and, as a result, reduce sellers' incentives to write inefficient contracts.

Developing its explanation through a general framework and detailed case studies of three major consumer markets (credit cards, mortgages, and cell phones), Seduction by Contract is an accessible introduction to the law and economics of consumer contracts, and a powerful critique of current regulatory policy.
Learn more about Seduction by Contract at the Oxford University Press website.

Oren Bar-Gill is a Professor of Law and co-Director of the Center for Law, Economics and Organization at the New York University School of Law.

The Page 99 Test: Seduction by Contract.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten must-read books to understand the history of the Earth

At io9 Annalee Newitz tagged "ten books you must read if you want to understand [the Earth's] transformation, from the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere to the mass deaths of the dinosaurs," including:
Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth, by Andrew H. Knoll

Harvard earth scientist Knoll is one of the few people on the planet who has devoted his career to determining the dates on ancient pieces of rock in order to understand the origins of life. This book explores Earth as a "young planet," meaning in the years before the Cambrian Explosion that led to the development of multicellular life that could breathe oxygen. But there were billions of years of evolution before that time, in which single celled creatures lived in a world whose oceans and atmosphere were very different from today. Knoll does a terrific job showing you this lost world, and explaining how he and other scientists use evidence to speculate about what life would have been like billions of years ago.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: C. C. Benison's "Eleven Pipers Piping"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Eleven Pipers Piping: A Father Christmas Mystery by C. C. Benison.

About the book, from the publisher:
Father Tom Christmas, the recently widowed vicar adjusting to life in the English village of Thornford Regis, would do almost anything to avoid attending the annual Robert Burns Supper at the local hotel. But as chaplain to a traditional Scottish pipe band, Father Tom must deliver the grace—and contend with wailing bagpipes, whiskey-laced parishioners reciting poetry, and the culinary abomination that is haggis.

As snow falls to unprecedented depths, the revelers carry on—briefly interrupted by an enigmatic stranger seeking shelter. Then Will Moir, proprietor of the hotel and a dedicated piper, inexplicably goes missing—only to be found later in the hotel’s dark tower, alone and dead from what appears to be a heart attack.

Father Tom’s own heart sinks when he learns the actual cause of Will’s demise. When word gets out, the flurry of innocent speculation descends into outlandish gossip. And, for all its tranquil charm, Thornford Regis has plenty to gossip about—illicit trysts, muted violence, private sorrows, and old, unresolved tragedies. The question is: Who would benefit most from the piper’s death? Suspicion swirls around many, including Will’s beautiful widow, their shadowy son, Will’s obnoxious brother-in-law, and even the mysterious party crasher, who knows more than she lets on about the grudges she left behind—but never forgot.

Brimming with wit, full of genuine surprise, and featuring one of the most memorable (and unlikely) detectives in mystery fiction, C. C. Benison’s second Father Christmas mystery will delight readers with a puzzle that truly defies solution.
Learn more about the book and author at C. C. Benison's website.

The Page 69 Test: Eleven Pipers Piping.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ten of the best crime novels, 2012

At Kirkus Reviews, J. Kingston Pierce named his favorite crime novels of the year, including:
The Yard, by Alex Grecian:

It’s 1889, a year after the Ripper killings, and London’s Metropolitan Police Force faces another series cutthroat—this one targeting members of its own Murder Squad. Assigned to capture the perpetrator is newly promoted Det. Insp. Walter Day, who’ll turn for assistance to Dr. Bernard Kingsley, a forward-thinking pathologist. Meanwhile, young Constable Nevil Hammersmith delves into the mystery of a boy abandoned in the chimney of a private residence—a case that will see him stripped and drugged by the home’s comely mistress, and make him a target for the same assassin Day and Kingsley are struggling to bring down.
Read about another novel on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: M. Todd Bennett's "One World, Big Screen"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: One World, Big Screen: Hollywood, the Allies, and World War II by M. Todd Bennett.

About the book, from the publisher:
World War II coincided with cinema's golden age. Movies now considered classics were created at a time when all sides in the war were coming to realize the great power of popular films to motivate the masses. Through multinational research, One World, Big Screen reveals how the Grand Alliance--Britain, China, the Soviet Union, and the United States--tapped Hollywood's impressive power to shrink the distance and bridge the differences that separated them. The Allies, M. Todd Bennett shows, strategically manipulated cinema in an effort to promote the idea that the United Nations was a family of nations joined by blood and affection.

Bennett revisits Casablanca, Mrs. Miniver, Flying Tigers, and other familiar movies that, he argues, helped win the war and the peace by improving Allied solidarity and transforming the American worldview. Closely analyzing film, diplomatic correspondence, propagandists' logs, and movie studio records found in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the former Soviet Union, Bennett rethinks traditional scholarship on World War II diplomacy by examining the ways that Hollywood and the Allies worked together to prepare for and enact the war effort.
Learn more about One World, Big Screen at the the University of North Carolina Press website.

M. Todd Bennett is assistant professor of history at East Carolina University.

Writers Read: M. Todd Bennett.

The Page 99 Test: One World, Big Screen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top teen thrillers

Sophie McKenzie is the award-winning author of a range of teen thrillers, including the Missing series (Girl, Missing, Sister, Missing, and Missing Me), Blood Ties and Blood Ransom and the Medusa Project series.

One of her top ten teen thrillers, as told to the Guardian:
Sister by Rosamund Lupton

A sibling relationship is at the heart of this dark, psychological thriller in which older sister Beatrice searches for her missing younger sister. As the story progresses, Beatrice - shocked by what she finds out about Tess's life - refuses to accept that her sister is gone. This is really powerful storytelling with an amazing twist at the end that I didn't see coming.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Teresa Rhyne reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Teresa Rhyne, author of The Dog Lived (and So Will I).

Her entry begins:
I recently finished A.M. Homes's May We Be Forgiven, which is an astoundingly good book. I was drawn into the characters and the drama immediately and am just in awe of her writing chops. I’d been reading a ton of non-fiction, because that’s what I’ve been writing, and this book brought me right back to my love of fiction. So next I picked up John Irving’s In One Person. John Irving is one of my favorite writers of all time and this recent book did not dampen my enthusiasm. I thought he handled a difficult subject (transgender and bi-sexuality) with great sensitivity. I was lucky enough to hear Mr. Irving’s talk at the American Library Association annual conference in Anaheim, CA this year and he read a bit from this book. It was enjoyable to read/hear the book in his voice as he envisions the characters, but his writing is so vivid and his characters so clearly drawn, the personal...[read on]
About The Dog Lived (and So Will I):
The tale of a dog who wouldn't let go and the woman who followed his lead.

Teresa Rhyne vowed to get things right this time around: new boyfriend, new house, new dog, maybe even new job. But shortly after she adopted Seamus, a totally incorrigible beagle, vets told Teresa that he had a malignant tumor and less than a year to live. The diagnosis devastated her, but she decided to fight it, learning everything she could about the best treatment for Seamus. Teresa couldn't possibly have known then that she was preparing herself for life's next hurdle - a cancer diagnosis of her own.

She forged ahead with survival, battling a deadly disease, fighting for doctors she needed, and baring her heart for a seemingly star–crossed relationship. The Dog Lived (and so Will I) is an uplifting and heartwarming story about how dogs steal our hearts, show us how to live, and teach us how to love.
Learn more about the book and author at Teresa Rhyne's website and The Dog Lived (and so Will I) blog.

See--Coffee with a Canine: Teresa Rhyne & Seamus.

Writers Read: Teresa Rhyne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Karen Engelmann's "The Stockholm Octavo," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann.

The entry begins:
Here’s the weird thing: a few weeks ago I actually had a phone conversation with a producer interested in optioning the book. “What actress do you think should play Mrs. Sparrow?” he asked.

It took me a few seconds to reply, surprised he wanted my opinion. “Well, I always imagined Kristin Scott Thomas. She’s a fabulous actress, the perfect age, looks Swedish and speaks French.”

“She is fabulous,” the producer noted. “I just did a movie with her. Ryan Gosling played her son.”

Ryan Gosling!!!???” I squealed, serious novelist dissolving into tabloid junkie. “Ryan Gosling can have any part he wants…”

That ended the discussion, and rightfully so. I love going to the movies, but otherwise have a ridiculously limited and naive view of the film business. Let the professionals do their job! However, this does not mean that I cannot create my fantasy cast from the daydreaming comfort of my sofa, bowl of popcorn at hand. Here is my Seeker, the Eight from his Octavo, and several other key roles.

Emil Larsson — narrator, customs officer and man of the Town: Ryan Gosling, of course!

Mrs. Sofia Sparrow — card shark and cartomancer: Kristin Scott Thomas.

The Uzanne — Baroness and villainess: Laura...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Karen Engelmann's website.

Writers Read: Karen Engelmann.

The Page 69 Test: The Stockholm Octavo.

My Book, The Movie: The Stockholm Octavo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pg. 99: David Orrell's "Truth or Beauty"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Truth or Beauty: Science and the Quest for Order by David Orrell.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this sweeping book, applied mathematician and popular author David Orrell questions the promises and pitfalls of associating beauty with truth, showing how ideas of mathematical elegance have inspired—and have sometimes misled—scientists attempting to understand nature.

Orrell shows how the ancient Greeks constructed a concept of the world based on musical harmony; later thinkers replaced this model with a program, based on Newton’s “rational mechanics,” to reduce the universe to a few simple equations. He then turns to current physical theories, such as supersymmetric string theory—again influenced by deep aesthetic principles. The book sheds new light on historical investigations and also recent research, including the examinations ongoing at the Large Hadron Collider. Finally, broadening his discussion to other fields of research, including economics, architecture, and health, Orrell questions whether these aesthetic principles reflect an accurate way to explain and understand the structure of our world.
Learn more about the book and author at David Orrell's website.

The Page 99 Test: Truth or Beauty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fifteen notable film adaptations of literary classics

For The Daily Beast, Jimmy So named fifteen top film adaptations of literary classics, including:
Wuthering Heights by William Wyler

I’m tempted to go with Luis Buñuel’s 1954 version, Abismos de Pasión, and give the edge to the surrealists, who knew a thing or two about irrational, death-obsessed love. But it is the 1939 film that we know. Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon look like two gorillas in heat, and the scenes of the Yorkshire moors were filmed in the Conejo Valley of Ventura County, with what appears to be a giant umbrella put over it. But the failures end up resembling genuine strangeness—ugly, spooky and captivating—which is what makes Emily Brontë’s novel so good in the first place.
Read about another entry on the list.

Wuthering Heights appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best thunderstorms in literature, ten of the worst nightmares in literature and ten of the best foundlings in literature, Valerie Martin's list of novels about doomed marriages, Susan Cheever's list of the five best books about obsession, and Melissa Katsoulis' top 25 list of book to film adaptations. It is one of John Inverdale's six best books and Sheila Hancock's six best books.

The Page 99 Test: Wuthering Heights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: J.T. Ellison's "Edge of Black"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Edge of Black by J. T. Ellison.

About the book, from the publisher:
After the devastating loss of her husband and children, Dr. Samantha Owens is starting over: new city, new job, new man, new life. Before she's even unpacked her office at Georgetown University's forensic pathology department, she's called to consult on a case that's rocked the capital and the country. An unknown pathogen released into the Washington Metro has caused nationwide panic. Three people died—just three. A miracle and a puzzle…

Amid the media frenzy and Homeland Security alarm bells, Sam painstakingly dissects the lives of those three victims and makes an unsettling conclusion. This is no textbook terrorist but an assassin whose motive is deeply personal and far from understandable.

Xander Whitfield, a former army ranger and Sam's new boyfriend, knows about doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. And it's his disturbing kinship with a killer that can lead Sam to the truth…and once more into the line of fire.
Learn more about the book and author at J.T. Ellison's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: A Deeper Darkness.

Writers Read: J.T. Ellison (April 2012).

My Book, The Movie: A Deeper Darkness.

Writers Read: J.T. Ellison (November 2012).

The Page 69 Test: Edge of Black.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Elana K. Arnold reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Elana K. Arnold, author of Sacred.

Her entry begins:
I’m pretty thrilled that I’ve been invited to teach a course called Adolescent Literature next quarter at UC Davis. I’ve been compiling a reading list, having a lot of fun revisiting some of my favorites. Two of the books I’m especially enjoying right now are The Golden Compass and Uses for Boys.

The Golden Compass—actually, Pullman’s entire His Dark Materials trilogy (which Pullman doesn’t consider to be a trilogy, but rather one long book) pretty much rocks my world every time. What I admire about Pullman’s philosophy is that he doesn’t hold up innocence as preferable to experience. His books don’t make a cult out of purity, and they put forth the notion that adulthood is a world full of...[read on]
About Sacred, from the publisher:
A grieving girl meets a boy with mystical powers in this passionate love story.

Growing up on Catalina Island, off the California coast, Scarlett Wenderoth has led a fairly isolated life. After her brother dies, her isolation deepens as she withdraws into herself, shutting out her friends and boyfriend. Her parents, shattered by their own sorrow, fail to notice Scarlett's pain and sudden alarming thinness. Scarlett finds pleasure only on her horse, escaping to the heart of the island on long, solitary rides. One day, as she races around a bend, Scarlett is startled by a boy who raises his hand in warning and says one word: "Stop."

The boy—intense, beautiful—is Will Cohen, a newcomer to the island. For reasons he can't or won't explain, he's drawn to Scarlett and feels compelled to keep her safe. To keep her from wasting away. His meddling irritates Scarlett, though she can't deny her attraction to him. As their relationship blossoms into love, Scarlett's body slowly awakens at Will's touch. But just when her grief begins to ebb, she makes a startling discovery about Will, a discovery he's been grappling with himself. A discovery that threatens to force them apart. And if it does, Scarlett fears she will unravel all over again.
Learn more about the book and author at Elana K. Arnold's website.

Writers Read: Elana K. Arnold.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pg. 99: David Cunningham's "Klansville, U. S. A."

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Klansville, U. S. A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era KKK by David Cunningham.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the 1960s, on the heels of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision and in the midst of the growing Civil Rights Movement, Ku Klux Klan activity boomed, reaching an intensity not seen since the 1920s, when the KKK boasted over 4 million members. Most surprisingly, the state with the largest Klan membership-more than the rest of the South combined-was North Carolina, a supposed bastion of southern-style progressivism.

Klansville, U.S.A. is the first substantial history of the civil rights-era KKK's astounding rise and fall, focusing on the under-explored case of the United Klans of America (UKA) in North Carolina. Why the UKA flourished in the Tar Heel state presents a fascinating puzzle and a window into the complex appeal of the Klan as a whole. Drawing on a range of new archival sources and interviews with Klan members, including state and national leaders, the book uncovers the complex logic of KKK activity. David Cunningham demonstrates that the Klan organized most successfully where whites perceived civil rights reforms to be a significant threat to their status, where mainstream outlets for segregationist resistance were lacking, and where the policing of the Klan's activities was lax. Moreover, by connecting the Klan to the more mainstream segregationist and anti-communist groups across the South, Cunningham provides valuable insight into southern conservatism, its resistance to civil rights, and the region's subsequent dramatic shift to the Republican Party.

Klansville, U.S.A. illuminates a period of Klan history that has been largely ignored, shedding new light on organized racism and on how political extremism can intersect with mainstream institutions and ideals.
Learn more about Klansville, U. S. A. at the Oxford University Press website.

David Cunningham is Associate Professor and Chair of Sociology at Brandeis University. He is the author of There’s Something Happening Here: The New Left, the Klan, and FBI Counterintelligence (University of California Press, 2004).

The Page 99 Test: Klansville, U. S. A..

--Marshal Zeringue

Five notable books on love in literature

Ella Berthoud is a bibliotherapist – she recommends books as a form of therapy and prescribes fiction for life’s ailments.

With The Browser's Alec Ash, Berthoud discussed five top books on love, including:
The Enchanted April
by Elizabeth von Arnim

Let’s get stuck into some of those books. Beginning with The Enchanted April.

At the beginning of this book, two women in the 1920s are in a club in Hampstead [London] on a rainy day. They see a newspaper advert: “To those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine. Small medieval Italian castle to be let for the month of April.” Both go off into a reverie, and talk themselves into squandering their nest eggs on a month in this castle. They find two other people to join them – a deeply beautiful heiress called Lady Caroline, and a really annoying older woman.

So off they go to this beautiful castle in Italy, leaving their husbands behind. They all go through different transformations as the castle works its magic on their souls. And they write to their husbands, saying they must come too. One of the husbands is a writer of terrible romantic fiction, and actually comes out there on a totally different mission – to seduce Lady Caroline. But he falls back in love with his wife instead.

It’s about love rediscovered at a later age?

Yes. If it was written now these women would all be in their late forties, but because it was written in 1922 they’re in their thirties – terribly middle-aged and pastured. They rediscover and rekindle their love for their husbands.

So would you prescribe this book to a married man or woman who feels the romance has dwindled?

That’s exactly the kind of person I would recommend this book to. It gives you renewed hope and faith in a longterm relationship. I would say: Read this book to remember the joy of falling in love with your partner, because that is what happens to these people.

Obviously it’s a fairy tale situation and not very realistic – most of us can’t afford to go to a castle in Italy for a month. But the realism is there underneath, because what the women feel for their absent husbands and vice versa is exactly what people feel now. That we don’t understand or love each other any more. That we don’t seem to have anything in common, or spend any time together. All these things are reawakened in this novel by the beauty of the surroundings, and they see the positives in each other again. It’s a very happy, healing, uplifting tale.

You need a catalyst to relight the spark.

Read about another book Berthoud tagged at The Browser.

--Marshal Zeringue

Derek Haas's "The Right Hand," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Right Hand by Derek Haas.

The entry begins:
Since I've already sold the rights to Universal and producer Scott Stuber, this is an intriguing question. My book centers on a middle-aged spy trying to get a nineteen-year-old Russian girl out of her country and out of harm's way. I'd love to see someone like Bradley Cooper, who has yet to really conquer an action movie tackle the role… and I'd pair him up with a beautiful, young talent such as...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Derek Haas's website.

Haas is the co-writer of the films The Double, Wanted, and 3:10 to Yuma, and author of The Assassin Trilogy: The Silver Bear, Columbus and Dark Men.

My Book, The Movie: Dark Men.

Writers Read: Derek Haas (December 2011).

The Page 69 Test: Dark Men.

Writers Read: Derek Haas (November 2012).

The Page 69 Test: The Right Hand.

My Book, The Movie: The Right Hand.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 24, 2012

What is Jessica Pierce reading?

This weekend's featured contributor at Writers Read: Jessica Pierce, author of The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the End of Their Lives.

Her entry begins:
I was exposed to some of the most marvelous literary works long before I was actually capable of reading them for myself. Every night, from before I can remember to long past when I was too old, my father would read to me as I went to sleep. We read childhood classics like James and the Giant Peach, all the Little House on the Prairie books, and all the Wizard of Oz books. We worked our way into more advanced material: Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Oliver Twist. And we journeyed through The Iliad and The Odyssey. You might think that Homeric poetry would bore a child to tears, but you would be wrong (at least in my case): I was utterly enthralled by the wild adventures of Odysseus and his men.

Although there is something very powerful about hearing Homer’s epic poem, and about participating in some small way in the oral tradition, I set about reading the story (for the third or fourth time) a month or two ago. I had several motivations. First of all, my dog Ody (short for, and named in honor of, Odysseus) died recently, and I felt that reading the poem would be one way to honor his life. Like the human Odysseus, my Ody’s life was full of hardship and misadventure. The other motivation for revisiting The Odyssey is that...[read on]
About The Last Walk, from the publisher:
From the moment when we first open our homes—and our hearts—to a new pet, we know that one day we will have to watch this beloved animal age and die. The pain of that eventual separation is the cruel corollary to the love we share with them, and most of us deal with it by simply ignoring its inevitability.

With The Last Walk, Jessica Pierce makes a forceful case that our pets, and the love we bear them, deserve better. Drawing on the moving story of the last year of the life of her own treasured dog, Ody, she presents an in-depth exploration of the practical, medical, and moral issues that trouble pet owners confronted with the decline and death of their companion animals. Pierce combines heart-wrenching personal stories, interviews, and scientific research to consider a wide range of questions about animal aging, end-of-life care, and death. She tackles such vexing questions as whether animals are aware of death, whether they're feeling pain, and if and when euthanasia is appropriate. Given what we know and can learn, how should we best honor the lives of our pets, both while they live and after they have left us?

The product of a lifetime of loving pets, studying philosophy, and collaborating with scientists at the forefront of the study of animal behavior and cognition, The Last Walk asks—and answers—the toughest questions pet owners face. The result is informative, moving, and consoling in equal parts; no pet lover should miss it.
Learn more about The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the Ends of Their Lives at Jessica Pierce's website and blog.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Jessica Pierce and Maya.

Writers Read: Jessica Pierce.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best books on work and working

Aman Sethi was born in Bombay in 1983 and attended the Columbia School of Journalism. He is a correspondent for The Hindu and the recipient of an International Committee of the Red Cross award for his reportage.

His new book is A Free Man: A True Story of Life and Death in Delhi.

Sethi named five notable books on work and working for the Wall Street Journal, including:
by Ben Hamper (1991)

Ben Hamper's great-grandfather built motorized buggies, his paternal grandfather worked 32 years at Buick, his maternal grandfather worked 40 at Chevrolet. Uncle Jack was working at Buick, as was Uncle Clarence. When Hamper flunked out of school he tried everything, from painting houses to cleaning toilets, to stave off the moment when he walked into the GM plant where his father once fitted windshields. "Rivethead" pulls you along like a Suburban chassis on an assembly line, from 1977, when a booming auto industry couldn't make enough trucks for an America rebounding from the Arab oil shocks, right up to 1988, when plants across the country were shuttering in the face of Japanese competition. Hamper draws the reader close as he skirmishes with cokehead foremen, binges with fellow shoprats, and fires rivets into trucks late into the night, nine hours a day, six days a week, year after year. Yet the most harrowing part of the book isn't the clamor of the assembly line but the quiet, grinding drudgery of layoffs, hangovers and the endless wait for the clock to run down.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: John Marzluff & Tony Angell's "Gifts of the Crow"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans by John Marzluff and Tony Angell.

About the book, from the publisher:
CROWS ARE MISCHIEVOUS, playful, social, and passionate. They have brains that are huge for their body size and exhibit an avian kind of eloquence. They mate for life and associate with relatives and neighbors for years. And because they often live near people—in our gardens, parks, and cities—they are also keenly aware of our peculiarities, staying away from and even scolding anyone who threatens or harms them and quickly learning to recognize and approach those who care for and feed them, even giving them numerous, oddly touching gifts in return.

With his extraordinary research on the intelligence and startling abilities of corvids—crows, ravens, and jays—scientist John Marzluff teams up with artist-naturalist Tony Angell to tell amazing stories of these brilliant birds in Gifts of the Crow. With narrative, diagrams, and gorgeous line drawings, they offer an in-depth look at these complex creatures and our shared behaviors. The ongoing connection between humans and crows—a cultural coevolution—has shaped both species for millions of years. And the characteristics of crows that allow this symbiotic relationship are language, delinquency, frolic, passion, wrath, risk-taking, and awareness—seven traits that humans find strangely familiar. Crows gather around their dead, warn of impending doom, recognize people, commit murder of other crows, lure fish and birds to their death, swill coffee, drink beer, turn on lights to stay warm, design and use tools, use cars as nutcrackers, windsurf and sled to play, and work in tandem to spray soft cheese out of a can. Their marvelous brains allow them to think, plan, and reconsider their actions.

With its abundance of funny, awe-inspiring, and poignant stories, Gifts of the Crow portrays creatures who are nothing short of amazing. A testament to years of painstaking research and careful observation, this fully illustrated, riveting work is a thrilling look at one of nature’s most wondrous creatures.
Learn more about Gifts of the Crow at the publisher's website.

John Marzluff and Tony Angell's are also author and illustrator of In the Company of Crows and Ravens (2005).

The Page 99 Test: In the Company of Crows and Ravens.

The Page 99 Test: Gifts of the Crow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Timothy Hallinan's "Crashed"

This weekend's feature at the Page 69 Test: Crashed by Timothy Hallinan.

About the book, from the publisher:

Junior Bender is a Los Angeles burglar with a magic touch. Since he first started breaking into houses when he was fourteen years old, he’s never once been caught. But now, after twenty-two years of an exemplary career, Junior has been blackmailed by Trey Annunziato, one of the most powerful crime bosses in LA, into acting as a private investigator on the set of Trey’s porn movie venture, which someone keeps sabotaging. The star Trey has lined up to do all that’s unwholesome on camera is Thistle Downing, America’s beloved child star, who now lives alone in a drug-induced stupor, destitute and uninsurable. Her starring role will be the scandalous fall-from-grace gossip of rubber-neckers across the country. No wonder Trey needs help keeping the production on track.

Junior knows what that he should do—get Thistle out and find her help—but doing the right thing will land him on the wrong side of LA’s scariest mob boss. With the help of his precocious twelve-year-old daughter, Rina, and his criminal sidekick, Louie the Lost (an ex-getaway driver), Junior has to figure out a miracle solution.
Learn more about the book and author at Timothy Hallinan's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Crashed.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 23, 2012

Oliver Ford Davies's 6 best books

Oliver Ford Davies played Sio Bibble, the governor of Naboo, and the head of the Royal Advisory Council, in several Star Wars films.

One of his six favorite books, as told to the Daily Express:
War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy

It’s the daddy of all family dramas and great historical events blockbusters.

It’s never been bettered. It details the aspirations, loves, mistakes, joys and tragedies of family life with great empathy and truthfulness but also pits the individual against the great sweep of history.

I’ve read it three times and aim for at least two more.
Read about another book on the list.

War and Peace also appears among Stella Tillyard's four favorite historical novels, Ann Shevchenko's top ten novels set in Moscow, Karl Marlantes' top ten war stories, Niall Ferguson's five most important books, Norman Mailer's top ten works of literature, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best battles in literature, ten of the best floggings in fiction, and ten of the best literary explosions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Stacey Madden's "Poison Shy," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Poison Shy by Stacey Madden.

The entry begins:
Poison Shy is full of unattractive characters, so any actors I mention here would have to ugly themselves up a bit for their roles in the film.

I think Poison Shy would make a great low-budget, grindhouse-type movie. It’s full of sex, violence, and people doing horrible things to each other, and what better way to emphasize the book’s gritty nature than by adapting it into a deliberately grainy film with dim lighting and poor sound quality.

For the role of Brandon Galloway, my hapless narrator who works in pest control, I would cast Joshua Jackson, of Dawson’s Creek fame, and ask him to come to the set each day on three-or-fewer hours’ sleep. Brandon’s a hard-on-his-luck kind of guy, and I think Josh Jackson would do a good job portraying Brandon’s pessimism and paranoia.

The real star of the show, however, is Melanie Blaxley, Brandon’s femme fatale paramour. Melanie, a pale and freckled redhead, is described in the book as “beautiful in a trashy kind of way”, causing Brandon to suspect that she could be “the surprisingly attractive offspring from an incestuous marriage” – a character description I’m sure is every young actress’s dream to be...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at the publisher's website and Stacey Madden's Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Poison Shy.

My Book, The Movie: Poison Shy.

--Marshal Zeringue

The 10 best ghost stories

Rebecca Armstrong, the features editor for the Independent, named ten of the best ghost stories for her paper. One title on the list:
The Little Stranger, By Sarah Waters

This mega-seller from 2009 doesn’t go overboard on supernatural shocks, but its themes of longing and envy play out against a backdrop of a crumbling house with more than its fair share of secrets.
Read about another book on the list.

Also see: the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books of ghost stories, 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, November 22, 2012

Pg. 99: C. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa's "Crooked Paths to Allotment"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Crooked Paths to Allotment: The Fight over Federal Indian Policy after the Civil War by C. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa.

About the book, from the publisher:
Standard narratives of Native American history view the nineteenth century in terms of steadily declining Indigenous sovereignty, from removal of southeastern tribes to the 1887 General Allotment Act. In Crooked Paths to Allotment, C. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa complicates these narratives, focusing on political moments when viable alternatives to federal assimilation policies arose. In these moments, Native American reformers and their white allies challenged coercive practices and offered visions for policies that might have allowed Indigenous nations to adapt at their own pace and on their own terms. Examining the contests over Indian policy from Reconstruction through the Gilded Age, Genetin-Pilawa reveals the contingent state of American settler colonialism.

Genetin-Pilawa focuses on reformers and activists, including Tonawanda Seneca Ely S. Parker and Council Fire editor Thomas A. Bland, whose contributions to Indian policy debates have heretofore been underappreciated. He reveals how these men and their allies opposed such policies as forced land allotment, the elimination of traditional cultural practices, mandatory boarding school education for Indian youth, and compulsory participation in the market economy. Although the mainstream supporters of assimilation successfully repressed these efforts, the ideas and policy frameworks they espoused established a tradition of dissent against disruptive colonial governance.
Learn more about Crooked Paths to Allotment at the University of North Carolina Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Crooked Paths to Allotment.

--Marshal Zeringue

The top 10 cities in literature

Mark Binelli is the author of the novel Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die! and the newly released Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis, his first book of nonfiction. Born and raised in the Detroit area, he now lives in New York City.

For Publishers Weekly, he named his ten favorite cities in literature, including:
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Calvino’s books were some of the first that made me want to write fiction. Much later, I mined Invisible Cities, one of his masterpieces — a dialogue between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan that’s also a series of prose poems about the metaphorical potential of the city — for the epigraph to Detroit City Is the Place to Be, Detroit being a city that’s long existed as a sort of (to borrow the apt phrasing of one headline writer) “Metaphoropolis.”
Read about another entry on the list.

Invisible Cities is one of Pat Conroy's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is J.T. Ellison reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: J.T. Ellison, author of Edge of Black.

Her entry begins:
One of the joys of being a writer is the fact that reading is part of the job description. Right now, on the recommendation of two writer buddies, Laura Benedict and Jeff Abbott, I am reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. It’s fascinating; a very frank look at how the world perceives introverts. As an introvert who is often mistaken for an extrovert, it’s heartening to see that what I’ve always worried was anti-social behavior is just...[read on]
About Edge of Black, from the publisher:
After the devastating loss of her husband and children, Dr. Samantha Owens is starting over: new city, new job, new man, new life. Before she's even unpacked her office at Georgetown University's forensic pathology department, she's called to consult on a case that's rocked the capital and the country. An unknown pathogen released into the Washington Metro has caused nationwide panic. Three people died—just three. A miracle and a puzzle…

Amid the media frenzy and Homeland Security alarm bells, Sam painstakingly dissects the lives of those three victims and makes an unsettling conclusion. This is no textbook terrorist but an assassin whose motive is deeply personal and far from understandable.

Xander Whitfield, a former army ranger and Sam's new boyfriend, knows about doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. And it's his disturbing kinship with a killer that can lead Sam to the truth…and once more into the line of fire.
Learn more about the book and author at J.T. Ellison's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: A Deeper Darkness.

Writers Read: J.T. Ellison (April 2012).

My Book, The Movie: A Deeper Darkness.

Writers Read: J.T. Ellison.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Karen Engelmann's "The Stockholm Octavo"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann.

About the book, from the publisher:
Life is close to perfect for Emil Larsson, a self-satisfied bureaucrat in the Office of Customs and Excise in 1791 Stockholm. He is a true man of the Town—a drinker, card player, and contented bachelor—until one evening when Mrs. Sofia Sparrow, a fortune-teller and proprietor of an exclusive gaming parlor, shares with him a vision she has had: a golden path that will lead him to love and connection. She lays an Octavo for him, a spread of eight cards that augur the eight individuals who can help him realize this vision—if he can find them.

Emil begins his search, intrigued by the puzzle of his Octavo and the good fortune Mrs. Sparrow's vision portends. But when Mrs. Sparrow wins a mysterious folding fan in a card game, the Octavo's deeper powers are revealed. For Emil it is no longer just a game of the heart; collecting his eight is now crucial to pulling his country back from the crumbling precipice of rebellion and chaos. Set against the luminous backdrop of late eighteenth-century Stockholm, as the winds of revolution rage through the great capitals of Europe, The Stockholm Octavo brings together a collection of characters, both fictional and historical, whose lives tangle in political conspiracy, love, and magic in a breathtaking debut that will leave you spellbound.
Learn more about the book and author at Karen Engelmann's website.

Writers Read: Karen Engelmann.

The Page 69 Test: The Stockholm Octavo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pg. 99: Steven Strogatz's "The Joy of x"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: The Joy of X: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity by Steven Strogatz.

About the book, from the publisher:
A world-class mathematician and regular contributor to the New York Times hosts a delightful tour of the greatest ideas of math, revealing how it connects to literature, philosophy, law, medicine, art, business, even pop culture in ways we never imagined

Did O.J. do it? How should you flip your mattress to get the maximum wear out of it? How does Google search the Internet? How many people should you date before settling down? Believe it or not, math plays a crucial role in answering all of these questions and more.

Math underpins everything in the cosmos, including us, yet too few of us understand this universal language well enough to revel in its wisdom, its beauty — and its joy. This deeply enlightening, vastly entertaining volume translates math in a way that is at once intelligible and thrilling. Each trenchant chapter of The Joy of x offers an “aha!” moment, starting with why numbers are so helpful, and progressing through the wondrous truths implicit in π, the Pythagorean theorem, irrational numbers, fat tails, even the rigors and surprising charms of calculus. Showing why he has won awards as a professor at Cornell and garnered extensive praise for his articles about math for the New York Times, Strogatz presumes of his readers only curiosity and common sense. And he rewards them with clear, ingenious, and often funny explanations of the most vital and exciting principles of his discipline.

Whether you aced integral calculus or aren’t sure what an integer is, you’ll find profound wisdom and persistent delight in The Joy of x.
Learn more about the book and author at Steven Strogatz's website.

Writers Read: Steven Strogatz (August 2009).

Writers Read: Steven Strogatz (November 2012).

The Page 99 Test: The Joy of X.

--Marshal Zeringue