Friday, September 30, 2016

What is Meg Little Reilly reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Meg Little Reilly, author of We Are Unprepared.

Her entry begins:
Novels are a constant in my life. I’m never not reading a novel. Sometimes they’re books that have been recommended or gifted, and other times they’re the only thing I could find at the airport bookstore in a pinch. I thoroughly enjoy the format and pacing of the contemporary novel, but the real test of a good novel for me is whether I’m still thinking about it months later.

A perfect example of this is Christopher Scotton’s The Secret Wisdom of the Earth, which I read several months ago and still can’t get out of my head. This breathtaking debut novel has all the things I love to read and aspire to write: a strong sense of place, a reverence for the natural world, and a...[read on]
About We Are Unprepared, from the publisher:

This is a novel about the superstorm that threatens to destroy a marriage, a town and the entire Eastern seaboard. But the destruction begins early, when fear infects people's lives and spreads like the plague.

Ash and Pia move from hipster Brooklyn to rustic Vermont in search of a more authentic life. But just months after settling in, the forecast of a superstorm disrupts their dream. Fear of an impending disaster splits their tight-knit community and exposes the cracks in their marriage. Where Isole was once a place of old farm families, rednecks and transplants, it now divides into paranoid preppers, religious fanatics and government tools, each at odds about what course to take.

WE ARE UNPREPARED is an emotional journey, a terrifying glimpse into the human costs of our changing earth and, ultimately, a cautionary tale of survival and the human spirit.
Visit Meg Little Reilly's website.

Writers Read: Meg Little Reilly.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top vampires in romance novels

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged her five favorite romance novel vampires, including:
Matthew (A Discovery of Witches, All Souls #1, by Deborah Harkness)

Where vampires go, there must also be witches. Diana Bishop is descended from a long line of powerful witches, but wants nothing to do with magic. But then she summons an ancient text, and along with it, her destiny—and her love, Matthew, a vampire geneticist (a smart nerd/sexy vampire? Who could ask for anything more?). Future books involve time-travel, adventure, and of course, a hell of a lot of romance.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see Lauren Owen's top ten vampire books, the ten best vampire novels ever, the top ten vampires in fiction and popular culture, ten vampire stories more romantic than "Twilight", Kevin Jackson's top 10 vampire novels, and Lisa Tuttle's critic's chart of top vampire books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Todd McGowan's "Capitalism and Desire"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Capitalism and Desire: The Psychic Cost of Free Markets by Todd McGowan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Despite creating vast inequalities and propping up reactionary world regimes, capitalism has many passionate defenders—but not because of what it withholds from some and gives to others. Capitalism dominates, Todd McGowan argues, because it mimics the structure of our desire while hiding the trauma that the system inflicts upon it. People from all backgrounds enjoy what capitalism provides, but at the same time are told more and better is yet to come. Capitalism traps us through an incomplete satisfaction that compels us after the new, the better, and the more.

Capitalism's parasitic relationship to our desires gives it the illusion of corresponding to our natural impulses, which is how capitalism's defenders characterize it. By understanding this psychic strategy, McGowan hopes to divest us of our addiction to capitalist enrichment and help us rediscover enjoyment as we actually experienced it. By locating it in the present, McGowan frees us from our attachment to a better future and the belief that capitalism is an essential outgrowth of human nature. From this perspective, our economic, social, and political worlds open up to real political change. Eloquent and enlivened by examples from film, television, consumer culture, and everyday life, Capitalism and Desire brings a new, psychoanalytically grounded approach to political and social theory.
Learn more about Capitalism and Desire at the Columbia University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Capitalism and Desire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top sci-fi books that make use of music

Christopher Priest’s most recent novel is The Gradual.

One of his five top science-fiction books that make use of music, as shared at
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)

In some respects Station Eleven is a modern return to a classic SF form: a novel describing a worldwide disaster which leaves only a handful of survivors. In one detailed section of the novel we follow a small group of characters before and after the catastrophe, some survive and others do not. One of them ends up in a raggle-taggle band of wanderers, struggling for existence in Michigan, following the shorelines of the Great Lakes. They call themselves the Symphony. By day they are forced to barter, argue and sometimes fight to stay alive, driving through the woods in their old pickup trucks, now engineless and horse-drawn. In the evenings they set up camp, take out musical instruments and perform Beethoven and Sibelius for the (small) audiences who emerge from their own hiding places. But this is only one aspect of an extremely satisfying, highly original and often moving novel.
Read about another entry on the list.

Station Eleven is among Anne Charnock's five favorite books with fictitious works of art.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What is Kenneth D. Ackerman reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kenneth D. Ackerman, author of Trotsky in New York, 1917: Portrait of a Radical on the Eve of Revolution.

His entry begins:
This summer, I have immersed myself in books about the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Call it research, or call it just a summer obsession, but a friend got me started with the new Larry Tye biography Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon, and since then I have devoured, in rapid succession, the 1964 report of the Warren Commission, the...[read on]
About Trotsky in New York, 1917, from the publisher:
Leon Trotsky burst onto the world stage in November 1917 as co-leader of a Marxist revolution seizing power in Russia. It made him one of the most recognized personalities of the Twentieth Century, a global icon of radical change. Yet just months earlier, this same Trotsky was a nobody, a refugee expelled from Europe, writing obscure pamphlets and speeches, barely noticed outside a small circle of fellow travelers. Where had he come from to topple Russia and change the world? Where else? New York City.

Between January and March 1917, Trotsky found refuge in the United States. America had kept itself out of the European Great War, leaving New York an open-minded and vital city. During his time there — just over ten weeks — Trotsky immersed himself in the local scene. He settled his family in the Bronx, edited a radical left wing tabloid in Greenwich Village, sampled the lifestyle, and plunged headlong into local politics. His clashes with leading New York socialists over the question of U.S. entry into World War I would reshape the American left for the next fifty years. His frantic attempt to return to Russia to lead the revolution there, and the attempt by British intelligence to stop him, was the stuff of thrillers.

Trotsky’s sojourn in New York City is a story rarely told, and never with such fullness and verve. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, it presents a portrait not only of a towering yet all-too-human political figure on the cusp of history, but also of the city itself at a special moment in our collective memory.
Visit Kenneth Ackerman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Trotsky in New York, 1917.

The Page 99 Test: Trotsky in New York, 1917.

Writers Read: Kenneth D. Ackerman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Margot Livesey's "Mercury"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Mercury by Margot Livesey.

About the book, from the publisher:
Donald believes he knows all there is to know about seeing. An optometrist in suburban Boston, he is sure that he and his wife, Viv, who runs the local stables, are both devoted to their two children and to each other. Then Mercury—a gorgeous young thoroughbred with a murky past—arrives at Windy Hill and everything changes.

Mercury’s owner, Hilary, is a newcomer to town who has enrolled her daughter in riding lessons. When she brings Mercury to board at Windy Hill, everyone is struck by his beauty and prowess, particularly Viv. As she rides him, Viv begins to dream of competing again, embracing the ambitions that she had harbored, and relinquished, as a young woman. Her daydreams soon morph into consuming desire, and her infatuation with the thoroughbred escalates to obsession.

Donald may have 20/20 vision but he is slow to notice how profoundly Viv has changed and how these changes threaten their quiet, secure world. By the time he does, it is too late to stop the catastrophic collision of Viv’s ambitions and his own myopia.

At once a tense psychological drama and a taut emotional thriller exploring love, obsession, and the deceits that pull a family apart, Mercury is a riveting tour de force that showcases this “searingly intelligent writer at the height of her powers” (Jennifer Egan).
Learn more about the book and author at Margot Livesey's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: The Flight of Gemma Hardy.

The Page 69 Test: Mercury.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten stories of hubris

Tommy Wieringa is an award-winning Dutch writer.

One of his ten top stories of hubris, as shared at the Guardian:
You Are Not a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett

This collection provides a peerless case of a mind cut loose. In the story Notes to My Biographer, the narrator is a manic inventor, who has applied for 26 patents and outlived three wives. We are slowly sucked into his psychotic delusions, his powerful, manic energy. His son is at his wits’ end. He weeps. The last sentence is unforgettable: “In the distance the shimmering pier juts into the vast darkness of the ocean like a burning ship launched into the night.”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Catherine Honeyman's "The Orderly Entrepreneur," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Orderly Entrepreneur: Youth, Education, and Governance in Rwanda by Catherine Honeyman.

The entry begins:
Picture an aerial shot of Kigali's rolling green hills after the genocide, panning down to a dirt road covered in a layer of orange dust. An adolescent boy takes a passenger on his motorcycle and collects the fare. Down the road, another boy sells grilled corn from a curbside stool. A girl hawks telephone airtime to passersby. A young man carries a bundle of chickens who seem passively resigned to their fate. Another boy hoists a cardboard box aloft, packed full of tissues and sweets for sale.

Pocketing their earnings, these young Rwandans set off to buy pens and notebooks, pay school fees, and shrug on their uniforms, joining thousands of other Rwandan schoolchildren on the trek to school.

Flash forward and we see government offices where new policies are being discussed, plans to create a generation of more entrepreneurial Rwandan youth. Curriculum developers debate the definitions students will need to memorize, the regulations they will need to master, in a new Rwanda with a progressive vision of orderly development. A Rwanda in which the street-side lemonade stand wouldn’t be an iconic image of youthful business initiative—it would be disorderly conduct, plain and simple.
So begins The Orderly Entrepreneur when I imagine it as a movie, following these young people through their efforts to earn school fees so they can get a better job one day, and following policy-makers and teachers through their efforts to teach a well-regulated form of self-reliance.

I would cast...[read on]
Visit Catherine A. Honeyman's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Orderly Entrepreneur.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What is Augusta Scattergood reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Augusta Scattergood, author of Making Friends with Billy Wong.

Her entry begins:
I always have more books halfway finished than I can even remember. But I just returned from a writing retreat at the Highlights Foundation. While there, I got to see Meg Medina receive her Artist-in-Residence award, and all of us were given her new novel, Burn Baby Burn.

True confessions- I don't read a lot of YA. I'm a middle-grade reader at heart. But this book- well, all I can say is that the National Book Award committee knew what they were doing when they listed this edgy, interesting, historically...[read on]
About Making Friends with Billy Wong, from the publisher:
Azalea is not happy about being dropped off to look after Grandmother Clark. Even if she didn't care that much about meeting the new sixth graders in her Texas hometown, those strangers seem much preferable to the ones in Paris Junction. Talk about troubled Willis DeLoach or gossipy Melinda Bowman. Who needs friends like these!

And then there's Billy Wong, a Chinese-American boy who shows up to help in her grandmother's garden. Billy's great-aunt and uncle own the Lucky Foods grocery store, where days are long and some folks aren't friendly. For Azalea, whose family and experiences seem different from most everybody she knows, friendship has never been easy. Maybe this time, it will be.

Inspired by the true accounts of Chinese immigrants who lived in the American South during the civil rights era, these side by side stories — one in Azalea's prose, the other in Billy's poetic narrative — create a poignant novel and reminds us that friends can come to us in the most unexpected ways.
Learn more about the book and author at Augusta Scattergood's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Way to Stay in Destiny.

The Page 69 Test: Making Friends with Billy Wong.

Writers Read: Augusta Scattergood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: D. Nolan Clark's "Forsaken Skies"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Forsaken Skies by D. Nolan Clark.

About the book, from the publisher:

Commander Lanoe is one of the Navy's greatest heroes, but the civil war left him with nothing but painful memories. When a planetary governor is murdered, it falls to Lanoe to hunt down the killer and bring them to justice.

Yet his pursuit will lead him towards the greatest threat mankind has ever faced.

An unknown armada has emerged from the depths of space, targeting an isolated colony planet. As the colonists plead for help, the politicians and bureaucrats look away. But Lanoe has never run from a fight - and he will not abandon thousands of innocents to their fate.

Forsaken Skies is the explosive opening novel in the Silence trilogy, an epic tale of a fight against the odds - and the terror of realizing that we're no longer alone in the cold vacuum of space.
Learn more about the book and author at David Wellington's website.

The Page 69 Test: Forsaken Skies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six irresistible novels about Old Hollywood

Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, a martial arts drama for young adults; and High and Dry, a hardboiled teen mystery. At B&N Reads she tagged six top novels about Old Hollywood, including:
Silent Murders, by Mary Miley

In this sequel to Miley’s phenomenal debut The Impersonator, the title refers not only to the Silent Era film stars at risk, but also the method of their violent ends—the killer at large appears to be using a silencer. Enter smart, resourceful Jessie Carr, former Vaudeville actress who’s met enough hucksters, schemers, bootleggers, and scoundrels to recognize one when she sees one. (“Hollywood friends,” scoffs Jessie’s confidante and housemate, Myrna Loy. “The sort who come to your parties but not your funeral.”) As a script-girl-in-training on the 1925 set of Don Q, Son of Zorro, starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jessie becomes embroiled in a series of slayings tangentially related to Fairbanks and his generous, powerhouse wife, Betty Pickford. A delicious, unputdownable mystery, Silent Murders is based in part on the real-life killing of director William Desmond Taylor. (For the definitive non-fiction account of Taylor, don’t miss Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood, by William J. Mann.)
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Impersonator.

The Page 69 Test: Silent Murders.

My Book, The Movie: Silent Murders.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Salim Yaqub's "Imperfect Strangers"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Imperfect Strangers: Americans, Arabs, and U.S.-Middle East Relations in the 1970s by Salim Yaqub.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Imperfect Strangers, Salim Yaqub argues that the 1970s were a pivotal decade for U.S.-Arab relations, whether at the upper levels of diplomacy, in street-level interactions, or in the realm of the imagination. In those years, Americans and Arabs came to know each other as never before. With Western Europe's imperial legacy fading in the Middle East, American commerce and investment spread throughout the Arab world. The United States strengthened its strategic ties to some Arab states, even as it drew closer to Israel. Maneuvering Moscow to the sidelines, Washington placed itself at the center of Arab-Israeli diplomacy. Meanwhile, the rise of international terrorism, the Arab oil embargo and related increases in the price of oil, and expanding immigration from the Middle East forced Americans to pay closer attention to the Arab world.

Yaqub combines insights from diplomatic, political, cultural, and immigration history to chronicle the activities of a wide array of American and Arab actors—political leaders, diplomats, warriors, activists, scholars, businesspeople, novelists, and others. He shows that growing interdependence raised hopes for a broad political accommodation between the two societies. Yet a series of disruptions in the second half of the decade thwarted such prospects. Arabs recoiled from a U.S.-brokered peace process that fortified Israel’s occupation of Arab land. Americans grew increasingly resentful of Arab oil pressures, attitudes dovetailing with broader anti-Muslim sentiments aroused by the Iranian hostage crisis. At the same time, elements of the U.S. intelligentsia became more respectful of Arab perspectives as a newly assertive Arab American community emerged into political life. These patterns left a contradictory legacy of estrangement and accommodation that continued in later decades and remains with us today.
Learn more about Imperfect Strangers at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Imperfect Strangers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What is Brent Hartinger reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Brent Hartinger, author of Three Truths and a Lie.

His entry begins:
I'm always juggling a combination of books. It's usually some books by friends of mine, soon to be published; books that I've read before and I know I'll love; and new books that intrigue me that I hope I'll like.

Lately, books by friends have included the 2017 YA novels Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg, and Deacon Locke Went to Prom by Brian Katcher. I don't always love books by my writer-friends, but I happened to love both of these. And do like reading advanced readers' copies, because they come with no preconceptions. There are no reviews yet, no "buzz," nothing to bias the jury, so I feel like my judgment is somehow a little more pure. Except, of course, the writers are my friends, so I'm probably never going to be too critical!

Books that I've read before that I'd thought I'd love include We Need to Talk About Kevin. While I really did like it when I read it years ago, this time I found it very heavy-handed and over-written. It was quite shocking how bad I thought it was, actually. But I also read Ursula le Guin's classic Earthsea Trilogy, and...[read on]
About Three Truths and a Lie, from the publisher:
A weekend retreat in the woods and an innocent game of three truths and a lie go horribly wrong in this high-octane psychological thriller filled with romantic suspense by a Lambda Award–winning author.

Deep in the forest, four friends gather for a weekend of fun.

Truth #1: Rob is thrilled about the weekend trip. It’s the perfect time for him to break out of his shell…to be the person he really, really wants to be.

Truth #2: Liam, Rob’s boyfriend, is nothing short of perfect. He’s everything Rob could have wanted. They’re perfect together. Perfect.

Truth #3: Mia has been Liam’s best friend for years…long before Rob came along. They get each other in a way Rob could never, will never, understand.

Truth #4: Galen, Mia’s boyfriend, is sweet, handsome, and incredibly charming. He’s the definition of a Golden Boy…even with the secrets up his sleeve.

One of these truths is a lie…and not everyone will live to find out which one it is.
Visit Brent Hartinger's website.

The Page 69 Test: Three Truths and a Lie.

Writers Read: Brent Hartinger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: K.V. Johansen's "Gods of Nabban"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Gods of Nabban by K. V. Johansen.

About the book, from the publisher:
The fugitive slave Ghu has ended the assassin Ahjvar’s century-long possession by a murderous and hungry ghost, but at great cost. Heir of the dying gods of Nabban, he is drawn back to the empire he fled as a boy, journeying east on the caravan road with Ahjvar at his side.

Haunted by memory of those he has slain, Ahjvar is ill in mind and body, a danger to those about him and to the man who loves him most of all. Tortured by violent nightmares, he believes himself mad. Only his determination not to leave Ghu to face his fate alone keeps Ahjvar from asking to be freed at last from his unnatural life.

Innocent and madman, god and assassin—two men to seize an empire from the tyrannical descendants of the devil Yeh-Lin. But in war-torn Nabban, enemies of gods and humans stir in the shadows. Yeh-Lin herself meddles with the heir of her enemies and his soul-shattered companion, as the fate of the empire rests on their shoulders.
Visit K. V. Johansen's website.

Coffee with a Canine: K.V. Johansen & Ivan.

The Page 69 Test: The Leopard.

The Page 69 Test: The Lady.

The Page 69 Test: Gods of Nabban.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six notable novels about freaky cults

Brian Evenson's latest book is The Warren.

One of his six favorite "weird cult novels—which is to say, cult novels that don’t follow the typical tropes that cult novels do," as shared at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Sway, by Zachary Lazar

This year everybody is talking about Emma Cline’s novel The Girls for its portrayal of a Manson-like cult, but for my money, Lazar’s Sway is the more interesting Manson novel—partly because it does more than reassert what I already knew about the Manson Family. Sway is a novel that moves between the films of Kenneth Anger, the early days of the Rolling Stones, and the Manson family, using those three lenses to give a picture of the period that’s vivid and illuminating, particularly at the moments when the lenses slide over one another. Sway understands that cults are always part of a broader culture and that they express the subconscious of that culture.
Read about another entry on the list.

Sway is on the list of forty-six essential rock reads.

My Book, The Movie: Sway.

The Page 69 Test: Sway.

--Marshal Zeringue

David O. Stewart's "The Babe Ruth Deception," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Babe Ruth Deception by David O. Stewart.

The entry begins:
Since this is the third book in my Jamie Fraser/Speed Cook series of historical mysteries, I’m already on record that William Hurt is a natural for Dr. Fraser and Denzel Washington would kill in the juicy Speed Cook role as a washed-up ballplayer with an attitude.

But what about the Babe? In two major movies featuring the Babe, he was portrayed wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. William Bendix in The Babe Ruth Story was clueless and unathletic, while John Goodman in The Babe was obese and twenty years too old.

In The Babe Ruth Deception, Babe is 25 years old, a prime physical specimen, arguably the finest athlete to play baseball for a couple of generations. No more fat, dopey actors playing the Babe.

In his younger days, Joe Don Baker would have been a great Babe Ruth – large and powerful, with a broad face that could be intimidating or charming. But Joe Don’s eighty years old.

My best candidate today is...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at David O. Stewart's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Wilson Deception.

The Page 69 Test: The Wilson Deception.

My Book, The Movie: The Babe Ruth Deception.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 26, 2016

What is Judy Fogarty reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Judy Fogarty, author of Breaking and Holding: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
The Yellow Birds

I've just finished The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, a 2012 National Book Award finalist. At only 226 pages, I expected a quick read but didn't get it. The author is a poet. His prose is mesmerizing and begs to be read slowly. Every time I opened The Yellow Birds, I found myself rereading the opening paragraphs. Throughout the novel, the beauty of the language is juxtaposed against a raw, harrowing story of the friendship of two young men fighting in the Iraq war. Powers served in the US army in 2004-05, so...[read on]
About Breaking and Holding, from the publisher:
For Patricia Curren, the summer of 1978 begins with a devastating discovery: an unfamiliar black pearl button in the bed she shares with her controlling husband, Jack. Seeking the courage to end her desolate marriage, Patricia spends a quiet summer alone on beautiful Kiawah Island. But when she meets Terry Sloan, a collegiate tennis player trying to go pro, their physical attraction sparks a slow burn toward obsession.

Once Patricia and Terry share closely guarded secrets from their pasts, they want more than a summer together. But their love soon fractures, as a potential sponsor takes an unusually keen interest in Terry—both on court and off. And when single, career-driven Lynn Hewitt arrives, other secrets must surface, including the one Patricia has kept from Terry all summer.

An intimate portrait of the folly of the human heart, Breaking and Holding explores buried truths that are startlingly unveiled. What’s left in their wake has the power not only to shatter lives…but to redeem them.
Visit Judy Fogarty's website.

Writers Read: Judy Fogarty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Neil deGrasse Tyson's six favorite books

Neil deGrasse Tyson is the author of ten books, including StarTalk, a new companion volume to his podcast and cable show of the same name.

One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

A reminder that space is dangerous — not only because of what we know can kill us, but especially because of all that we have yet to learn can kill us.
Read about another book on the list.

The Andromeda Strain is among Joel Cunningham's 11 fictional maladies that will keep you up at night.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Caroline Leavitt's "Cruel Beautiful World"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Cruel Beautiful World: A Novel by Caroline Leavitt.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sixteen-year-old Lucy Gold is about to run away with a much older man to live off the grid in rural Pennsylvania, a rash act that will have vicious repercussions for both her and her older sister, Charlotte. As Lucy’s default parent for most of their lives, Charlotte has seen her youth marked by the burden of responsibility, but never more so than when Lucy’s dream of a rural paradise turns into a nightmare.

Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty, chaos and control, as it explores what happens when you’re responsible for things you cannot make right.

Set against a backdrop of peace, love, and the Manson murders, the novel is a reflection of the era: exuberant, defiant, and precarious all at once. And Caroline Leavitt is at her mesmerizing best in this haunting, nuanced portrait of love, sisters, and the impossible legacy of family.
Learn more about the book and author at Caroline Leavitt's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Pictures of You.

My Book, the Movie: Pictures of You.

The Page 69 Test: Is This Tomorrow.

My Book, The Movie: Is This Tomorrow.

My Book, The Movie: Cruel Beautiful World.

The Page 69 Test: Cruel Beautiful World.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Brett J. Esaki's "Enfolding Silence"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Enfolding Silence: The Transformation of Japanese American Religion and Art under Oppression by Brett Esaki.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book demonstrates how Japanese Americans have developed traditions of complex silences to survive historic moments of racial and religious oppression and how they continue to adapt these traditions today. Brett Esaki offers four case studies of Japanese American art-gardening, origami, jazz, and monuments-and examines how each artistic practice has responded to a historic moment of oppression. He finds that these artistic silences incorporate and convey obfuscated and hybridized religious ideas from Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Shinto, indigenous religions, and contemporary spirituality.

While silence is often thought of as the binary opposite and absence of sound, Esaki offers a theory of non-binary silence that articulates how multidimensional silences are formed and how they function. He argues that non-binary silences have allowed Japanese Americans to disguise, adapt, and innovate religious resources in order to negotiate racism and oppressive ideologies from both the United States and Japan. Drawing from the fields of religious studies, ethnic studies, theology, anthropology, art, music, history, and psychoanalysis, this book highlights the ways in which silence has been used to communicate the complex emotions of historical survival, religious experience, and artistic inspiration.
Learn more about Enfolding Silence at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Enfolding Silence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: SJ Goslee & Chewy and Guster

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: SJ Goslee & Chewy and Guster.

The author, on how she and her dogs were united:
We were actually puppy-sitting Chewy for a friend who had rescued her from a neighbor nearly 10 years ago and fell in love with her. We asked if we could keep her and she’s been by my side (and under my covers) ever since. Guster came along the same year we had my oldest son. We thought it would be neat to...[read on]
About S.J. Goslee's Whatever.: Or How Junior Year Became Totally F$@cked, from the publisher:
It's like the apocalypse came, only instead of nuclear bombs and zombies, Mike gets school participation, gay thoughts, and mother-effin' cheerleaders.

Junior year is about to start. Here's what Mike Tate knows:

His friends are awesome and their crappy garage band is a great excuse to drink cheap beer. Rook Wallace is the devil. The Lemonheads rock. And his girlfriend Lisa is the coolest. Then Lisa breaks up with him, which makes Mike only a little sad, because they'll stay friends and he never knew what to do with her boobs anyway. But when Mike finds out why Lisa dumped him, it blows his mind. And worse—he gets elected to homecoming court.

With a standout voice, a hilariously honest view on sex and sexuality, and enough f-bombs to make your mom blush, this debut YA novel is a fresh, modern take on the coming-out story.
Visit S.J. Goslee's website.

Coffee with a Canine: SJ Goslee & Chewy and Guster.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 25, 2016

What is Angela Palm reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Angela Palm, author of Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here.

Her entry begins:
I’m usually reading a few books at once: one purely for pleasure, one that informs my writing in some way, and one that’s been personally recommended to me.

I just finished How to Start a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball. I bought this book because I’d read an article about Jesse Ball that painted him as unconventional, unpredictable. My impression of him is that he is one of those mad genius types who might give an off the cuff, potentially off putting answer in an interview. I liked that authenticity, the way it disrupts the expected course of literary publicity a little bit. Literature needs more punk. This book has it. It’s about a teenage anarchist whose father has died, leaving behind only his Zippo lighter. The precocious, if somewhat misguided, girl is shuffled to an impoverished aunt’s house and to an alternative school after being expelled for stabbing a boy with a...[read on]
About Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here, from the publisher:
Angela Palm grew up in a place not marked on the map, in a house set on the banks of a river that had been straightened to make way for farmland. Every year, the Kankakee River in rural Indiana flooded and returned to its old course while the residents sandbagged their homes against the rising water. From her bedroom window, Palm watched the neighbor boy and loved him in secret, imagining a life with him even as she longed for a future that held more than a job at the neighborhood bar. For Palm, caught in this landscape of flood and drought, escape was a continually receding hope.

Though she did escape, as an adult Palm finds herself drawn back, like the river, to her origins. But this means more than just recalling vibrant, complicated memories of the place that shaped her, or trying to understand the family that raised her. It means visiting the prison where the boy she loved is serving a life sentence for a brutal murder. It means trying to chart, through the mesmerizing, interconnected essays of Riverine, what happens when a single event forces the path of her life off course.
Visit Angela Palm's website.

Writers Read: Angela Palm.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Don Bruns's "Casting Bones"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Casting Bones by Don Bruns.

About the book, from the publisher:
When a New Orleans judge is brutally murdered, former Detroit cop Quentin Archer is handed the case. But it's only when he encounters a beautiful young voodoo practitioner that he starts to make headway in the investigation - and enters the world of darkness and mysticism which underpins the carefree atmosphere of the Big Easy.
Learn more about the book and author at Don Bruns's website.

The Page 99 Test: Stuff to Die For.

My Book, The Movie: Stuff Dreams Are Made Of.

The Page 69 Test: Stuff to Spy For.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.

My Book, The Movie: Casting Bones.

The Page 69 Test: Casting Bones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six romance novels that break the mold

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and semi-professional nerd.

At the B&N Reads blog she tagged six romances with unexpected twists on the genre, including:
Dear Mr. Knightley, by Katherine Reay
Twist: Epistolary Format

Written mostly in one-sided epistolarly form, Dear Mr. Knightly is a modern re-telling of Jean Webster’s classic, Daddy-Long-Legs. An unknown donor dubbed “Mr. Knightly” offers to pay Samantha Moore’s way through graduate school on the condition that Sam write him regular letters updating him on her progress. The more Sam writes, the more her letters start to sound like a diary, and we see her journey from scared foster child into an adult who can no longer hide behind her fictional favorite characters. Eventually she starts to allow people into her life, including getting into a relationship with successful novelist Alex Powell, all of which readers learn about through Sam’s letters to Mr. Knightly. If you’re interested in other romances that unfold through an epistolary format, pick up Meg Cabot’s The Boy Next Door, which takes place exclusively through e-mail communication, and Ceclia Ahern’s Love, Rosie.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Michelle Brafman's "Bertrand Court," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Bertrand Court by Michelle Brafman.

The entry begins:
Of course, I’d be thrilled to see Bertrand Court made into a movie, but I’d be equally happy to for Netflix or Amazon to morph these linked stories into something delicious and binge-worthy. Think of a series with the tension and emotional complexity of The Americans and the premise of Knots Landing or Melrose Place, where all of the characters are connected via a common space, in this case a suburban Washington, DC cul-de-sac.

Bertrand Court will only work as an ensemble series with a large cast, so I’ll tackle the bigger parts first. I’ll start with Hannah, the volatile, hormonally challenged, emerging matriarch of the Solonsky family. Lizzy Caplan would make a heck of a Hannah Solonsky because they share a strength and crazy intensity that ripples beneath their perfect diction and birdlike frames. Hannah’s husband Danny calls for an actor with...[read on]
Visit Michelle Brafman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Bertrand Court.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 24, 2016

What is Teddy Wayne reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Teddy Wayne, author of Loner.

His entry begins:
I recently reread Rebecca Schiff's debut story collection, The Bed Moved. The stories are funny without being slapsticky, weird but not precious, moving yet not sentimental. They would be great models for...[read on]
About Loner, from the publisher:
David Federman has never felt appreciated. An academically gifted yet painfully forgettable member of his New Jersey high school class, the withdrawn, mild-mannered freshman arrives at Harvard fully expecting to be embraced by a new tribe of high-achieving peers. Initially, however, his social prospects seem unlikely to change, sentencing him to a lifetime of anonymity.

Then he meets Veronica Morgan Wells. Struck by her beauty, wit, and sophisticated Manhattan upbringing, David becomes instantly infatuated. Determined to win her attention and an invite into her glamorous world, he begins compromising his moral standards for this one, great shot at happiness. But both Veronica and David, it turns out, are not exactly as they seem.

Loner turns the traditional campus novel on its head as it explores ambition, class, and gender politics. It is a stunning and timely literary achievement from one of the rising stars of American fiction.
Learn more about the book and author at Teddy Wayne's website.

The Page 69 Test: Kapitoil.

Writers Read: Teddy Wayne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kenneth D. Ackerman's "Trotsky in New York, 1917"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Trotsky in New York, 1917: Portrait of a Radical on the Eve of Revolution by Kenneth D. Ackerman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Leon Trotsky burst onto the world stage in November 1917 as co-leader of a Marxist revolution seizing power in Russia. It made him one of the most recognized personalities of the Twentieth Century, a global icon of radical change. Yet just months earlier, this same Trotsky was a nobody, a refugee expelled from Europe, writing obscure pamphlets and speeches, barely noticed outside a small circle of fellow travelers. Where had he come from to topple Russia and change the world? Where else? New York City.

Between January and March 1917, Trotsky found refuge in the United States. America had kept itself out of the European Great War, leaving New York an open-minded and vital city. During his time there — just over ten weeks — Trotsky immersed himself in the local scene. He settled his family in the Bronx, edited a radical left wing tabloid in Greenwich Village, sampled the lifestyle, and plunged headlong into local politics. His clashes with leading New York socialists over the question of U.S. entry into World War I would reshape the American left for the next fifty years. His frantic attempt to return to Russia to lead the revolution there, and the attempt by British intelligence to stop him, was the stuff of thrillers.

Trotsky’s sojourn in New York City is a story rarely told, and never with such fullness and verve. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, it presents a portrait not only of a towering yet all-too-human political figure on the cusp of history, but also of the city itself at a special moment in our collective memory.
Visit Kenneth Ackerman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Trotsky in New York, 1917.

The Page 99 Test: Trotsky in New York, 1917.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books where insanity is normalized

Brian Evenson's latest book is The Warren.

One of his five favorite books where insane characters come to be taken for or treated as normal, as shared at
Magnus Mills, The Restraint of Beasts

A brilliant comic novel about three hapless comic fencing installers who keep having things go wrong. When someone is accidentally killed, they react to the death in an absurd manner and quickly are back to installing their fences. When another accident happens when their boss is there, the reaction, as in Gray’s story, is completely other than what we expect.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 23, 2016

What is Amanda I. Seligman reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Amanda I. Seligman, author of Chicago's Block Clubs: How Neighbors Shape the City.

Her entry begins:
When I was in graduate school in the mid-1990s, writing my dissertation, working two academic jobs, and abstaining from fiction, I dreamed of the day when I would have tenure and work on just one work of scholarship at a time, in an orderly, sequential, and logical fashion, without the constant sense that I was behind in everything. That fantasy was nothing more than an illusion, as I seem always to have several projects going at the same time. Two decades on, I have surrendered to my natural condition. The tendency to multitask turns out to infect my reading habits as well. The books I am pretty sure I am currently reading more or less actively include:

Robert C. Ellickson, Order without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes (1991): I have been poking around in legal research lately and stumbled across this book, which resonates very strongly Chicago’s Block Clubs’ emphasis on how urban dwellers cooperate with their neighbors. In the first few chapters, Ellickson argues that neighboring cattle ranchers resolve their disputes without resorting to legal remedies. I can’t decide yet whether this argument is completely banal or a brilliant execution of...[read on]
About Chicago’s Block Clubs, from the publisher:
What do you do if your alley is strewn with garbage after the sanitation truck comes through? Or if you’re tired of the rowdy teenagers next door keeping you up all night? Is there a vacant lot on your block accumulating weeds, needles, and litter? For a century, Chicagoans have joined block clubs to address problems like these that make daily life in the city a nuisance. When neighbors work together in block clubs, playgrounds get built, local crime is monitored, streets are cleaned up, and every summer is marked by the festivities of day-long block parties.

In Chicago’s Block Clubs, Amanda I. Seligman uncovers the history of the block club in Chicago—from its origins in the Urban League in the early 1900s through to the Chicago Police Department’s twenty-first-century community policing program. Recognizing that many neighborhood problems are too big for one resident to handle—but too small for the city to keep up with—city residents have for more than a century created clubs to establish and maintain their neighborhood’s particular social dynamics, quality of life, and appearance. Omnipresent yet evanescent, block clubs are sometimes the major outlets for community organizing in the city—especially in neighborhoods otherwise lacking in political strength and clout. Drawing on the stories of hundreds of these groups from across the city, Seligman vividly illustrates what neighbors can—and cannot—accomplish when they work together.
Learn more about Chicago's Block Clubs at the University of Chicago Press website.

Writers Read: Amanda Seligman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that take place over one school year

Jeff Somers is the author of the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories.

At the B&N Reads blog he tagged five books that are more or less set during one school year, including:
Election, by Tom Perrotta

Perrotta’s second novel is likely best-remembered today for its film adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon, but the book is better. Aside from its epilogue, the story takes place entirely during one school year, detailing the battle for Student Council President between irritatingly ambitious Tracy Flick and laid-back popular jock Paul Warren—an election increasingly (and incompetently) manipulated by popular teacher Mr. M simple because he dislikes Tracy. Anyone who has ever suspected that their teachers were no more mature and “together” than the students will find validation in this dark but hilarious story, but ultimately Perrotta’s message is that children have the excuse of being children for their bad behavior, while adults do not.
Read about another entry on the list.

Election is among Ellen Wehle's four top novels featuring bad teacher-student behavior and Don Calame's top ten funny teen boy books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Marina Budhos's "Watched"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Watched by Marina Budhos.

About the book, from the publisher:
Marina Budhos’s extraordinary and timely novel examines what it’s like to grow up under surveillance, something many Americans experience and most Muslim Americans know.

Naeem is far from the “model teen.” Moving fast in his immigrant neighborhood in Queens is the only way he can outrun the eyes of his hardworking Bangladeshi parents and their gossipy neighbors. Even worse, they’re not the only ones watching. Cameras on poles. Mosques infiltrated. Everyone knows: Be careful what you say and who you say it to. Anyone might be a watcher.

Naeem thinks he can charm his way through anything, until his mistakes catch up with him and the cops offer a dark deal. Naeem sees a way to be a hero—a protector—like the guys in his brother’s comic books. Yet what is a hero? What is a traitor? And where does Naeem belong?

Acclaimed author Marina Budhos delivers a riveting story that’s as vivid and involving as today’s headlines.
Visit Marina Budhos's website.

My Book, The Movie: Watched.

The Page 69 Test: Watched.

--Marshal Zeringue

Don Bruns's "Casting Bones," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Casting Bones by Don Bruns.

His entry begins:
The protagonist in Casting Bones is Quentin Archer. Q is a homicide detective who is forced out of the Detroit Police force. His wife has been murdered, and the baggage he carries is sizable. Drawing a high-profile murder of a judge as one of his first assignments he finds himself under immense pressure to solve the murder in record time. He is helped by a young, attractive voodoo queen.

The actor I had in mind to play the detective is John...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Don Bruns's website.

The Page 99 Test: Stuff to Die For.

My Book, The Movie: Stuff Dreams Are Made Of.

The Page 69 Test: Stuff to Spy For.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.

My Book, The Movie: Casting Bones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What is Craig Johnson reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Craig Johnson, author of An Obvious Fact (A Walt Longmire Mystery).

His entry begins:
I’m catching up on a lot of things, but the top of the nightstand is Scott Phillips’s Rake, I like to check in with him periodically just because his books and voice are so damn funny. Then I’ve got Miracle Boy and Other Stories by Pinckney Benedict who wrote Dogs of God and who I consider to be one of the unsung godfathers of the current rural, tough-guy clan of authors out there like Donald Ray Pollock, Frank Bill, Benjamin Whitmer, and...[read on]
About An Obvious Fact, from the publisher:
In the 12th novel in the New York Times bestselling Longmire series, Walt, Henry, and Vic discover much more than they bargained for when they are called in to investigate a hit-and-run accident involving a young motorcyclist near Devils Tower

In the midst of the largest motorcycle rally in the world, a young biker is run off the road and ends up in critical condition. When Sheriff Walt Longmire and his good friend Henry Standing Bear are called to Hulett, Wyoming—the nearest town to America’s first national monument, Devils Tower—to investigate, things start getting complicated. As competing biker gangs; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; a military-grade vehicle donated to the tiny local police force by a wealthy entrepreneur; and Lola, the real-life femme fatale and namesake for Henry’s ’59 Thunderbird (and, by extension, Walt’s granddaughter) come into play, it rapidly becomes clear that there is more to get to the bottom of at this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally than a bike accident. After all, in the words of Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Adventures of Sherlock Holmes the Bear won’t stop quoting, ”There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”
Learn more about the author and his work at Craig Johnson's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Page 69 Test: Kindness Goes Unpunished.

My Book, The Movie: The Cold Dish.

The Page 69 Test: The Dark Horse.

The Page 69 Test: Junkyard Dogs.

The Page 69 Test: Hell Is Empty.

Writers Read: Craig Johnson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books on corruption

John Sweeney is a writer and broadcaster, currently working for BBC Newsnight. His latest book is Cold.

One of Sweeney's top ten books on corruption, as shared at the Guardian:
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Into the city with no more personality than a paper cup, Chandler’s genius was to place a knight in battered armour, a heavy-drinking, chess-playing Sir Galahad transposed to 1940s LA. In this reworking of the Knights of the Round Table, Mordred is the city’s immoral rich, his thanes bent cops and smooth-talking, grey-suited mobsters. A corrupt city has never been so skilfully drawn.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Big Sleep also appears on the Telegraph's top 23 list of amazing--and short--classic books, Lucy Worsley's ten best list of fictional detectives, Becky Ferreira's list of seven of the best books set in Los Angeles, Ian Rankin's list of five perfect mysteries, Kathryn Williams's reading list on greed, Gigi Levangie Grazer's list of six favorite books that became movies, Megan Wasson's list of five top books on Los Angeles, Greil Marcus's six recommended books list, Barry Forshaw's critic's chart of six American noir masters, David Nicholls' list of favorite film adaptations, and the Guardian's list of ten of the best smokes in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Philip C. Almond's "Afterlife"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Afterlife: A History of Life after Death by Philip C. Almond.

About the book, from the publisher:
The end of life has never meant the extinction of hope. People have always yearned for, and often been terrified by, continuance beyond the horizon of mortality. Over many centuries various imaginative and sometimes macabre ideas have been devised to explain what happens to human beings after death. As Philip C. Almond reveals in his new and zestful history of the hereafter, whichever image or metaphor has been employed by visionaries, writers, philosophers, or theologians, it has tended to oscillate between two contrary poles: the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul. This pendulum movement of ideas and language reflects the contending influence of the Hebrew Bible and of ancient Greek thought and the often tense encounters, skirmishes, and compromises between them.

Exploring this polarity, and boldly ranging across time and space, Almond takes his readers on a remarkable journey to worlds of both torment and delight. He travels to the banks of the Styx, where Charon the grizzled boatman ferries a departing spirit across the river only if a coin is first placed for payment on the tongue of its corpse. He transports us to the legendary Isles of the Blessed, walks the hallowed ground of the Elysian Fields, and plumbs the murky depths of Tartarus, primordial dungeon of the Titans. The pitiable souls of the damned are seen to clog the soot-filled caverns of Lucifer's domain even as the elect ascend to Paradise. Including medieval fears for the fate of those consumed by cannibals, early modern ideas about the Last Day, and modern scientific explorations of the domains of the dead, this first full treatment of the afterlife in Western thought evokes many rich imaginings of Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and Limbo.
Learn more about Afterlife at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Afterlife: A History of Life after Death.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Stephanie Gangi & Enzo

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Stephanie Gangi & Enzo.

The author, on how she and Enzo were united:
I got Enzo during the end days of a love affair when I knew in my heart that it was truly over. I hadn’t had a dog in a couple of years, and I thought it would be a healthy diversion. Considering his size and personality, he’s kind of turned into my rebound man. In...[read on]
About Gangi's The Next, from the publisher:
Is there a right way to die? If so, Joanna DeAngelis has it all wrong. She’s consumed by betrayal, spending her numbered days obsessing over Ned McGowan, her much younger ex, and watching him thrive in the spotlight with someone new, while she wastes away. She’s every woman scorned, fantasizing about revenge … except she’s out of time.

Joanna falls from her life, from the love of her daughters and devoted dog, into an otherworldly landscape, a bleak infinity she can’t escape until she rises up and returns and sets it right—makes Ned pay—so she can truly move on.

From the other side into right this minute, Jo embarks on a sexy, spiritual odyssey. As she travels beyond memory, beyond desire, she is transformed into a fierce female force of life, determined to know how to die, happily ever after.
Visit Stephanie Gangi's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Stephanie Gangi & Enzo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What is James R. Benn reading?

Featured at Writers Read: James R. Benn, author of Blue Madonna.

His entry begins:
I’m currently caught up in research reading, so my current stack is all non-fiction.

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution, by Nathaniel Philbrick.

A terrific and well-written story of the early years of the American Revolution, when Benedict Arnold was one of our bravest and most gifted generals. Philbrick makes him come alive, and breaks through the image of the vile traitor (although that he was) to show a more rounded, and quite sad, view of the man for whom life’s bounties were never enough, and every slight was a...[read on]
About Blue Madonna, from the publisher:
Billy Boyle, US Army detective and ex-Boston cop, faces his toughest investigation yet: infiltrating enemy lines in France as the Allies invade Normandy.

It’s late May 1944. Captain Billy Boyle is court-martialed on spurious charges of black market dealings. Stripped of his officer’s rank, reduced to private, and sentenced to three months’ hard labor, Billy is given an opportunity: he can avoid his punishment if he goes behind enemy lines to rescue a high-value Allied soldier.

A secret chamber and tunnels, once used by escaping Huguenots in the 17th century, has since been taken over by the Allies. But this “safe house” on the outskirts of Chaumont turns out to be anything but—two downed airmen, one Canadian and the other American, have been murdered.

Billy is flown in as part of a three-man team on June 5, 1944, the night before the Normandy invasion, and must solve the mystery of who is behind the murders before then leading a group escape back to England, with both the Germans and a killer hot on their heels.
Learn more about the Billy Boyle WWII Mystery Series at James R. Benn's website.

The Page 99 Test: The First Wave.

The Page 69 Test: Evil for Evil.

The Page 69 Test: Rag and Bone.

My Book, The Movie: Death's Door.

The Page 69 Test: The White Ghost.

The Page 69 Test: Blue Madonna.

Writers Read: James R. Benn.

--Marshal Zeringue