Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What is J. M. Sidorova reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: J. M. Sidorova, author of The Age of Ice.

Her entry begins:
My reading list is comprised of catching up with the fiction that was published years ago, and of a lot of nonfiction that I read as research for my own writing — books, articles, fragments, oddities. (You won’t believe how entertaining can be a diary of an early nineteenth century Englishman traveling to Paris!) Of nonfiction books, I recently read Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova and Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks. Both books are popular science treatises on the ways our brain perceives and manipulates reality (something every writer of magic realism should study). Konnikova’s well-crafted book combines examples of recent advances in neuroscience with a practical guide on how to pay more and better attention, activating what she calls a brain “system Holmes” instead of our default, lazy “system Watson.” Consider just one of the memorable observations found in the book: a sad or depressed brain...[read on]
About The Age of Ice, from the publisher:
The Empress Anna Ioannovna has issued her latest eccentric order: construct a palace out of ice blocks. Inside its walls her slaves build a wedding chamber, a canopy bed on a dais, heavy drapes cascading to the floor—all made of ice. Sealed inside are a disgraced nobleman and a deformed female jester. On the empress’s command—for her entertainment—these two are to be married, the relationship consummated inside this frozen prison. In the morning, guards enter to find them half-dead. Nine months later, two boys are born.

Surrounded by servants and animals, Prince Alexander Velitzyn and his twin brother, Andrei, have an idyllic childhood on the family’s large country estate. But as they approach manhood, stark differences coalesce. Andrei is daring and ambitious; Alexander is tentative and adrift. One frigid winter night on the road between St. Petersburg and Moscow, as he flees his army post, Alexander comes to a horrifying revelation: his body is immune to cold.

J. M. Sidorova’s boldly original and genrebending novel takes readers from the grisly fields of the Napoleonic Wars to the blazing heat of Afghanistan, from the outer reaches of Siberia to the cacophonous streets of nineteenth-century Paris. The adventures of its protagonist, Prince Alexander Velitzyn—on a lifelong quest for the truth behind his strange physiology—will span three continents and two centuries and bring him into contact with an incredible range of real historical figures, from Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, to the licentious Russian empress Elizaveta and Arctic explorer Joseph Billings.

The Age of Ice is one of the most enchanting and inventive debut novels of the year.
Learn more about the book and author at J.M. Sidorova's website, blog and the Scribner website.

The Page 69 Test: The Age of Ice.

Writers Read: J. M. Sidorova.

--Marshal Zeringue