Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Ten of the best deaths in fiction

Thomas Maloney was born in Kent in 1979, grew up in London, and studied Physics at Oxford. His first novel, The Sacred Combe, was published in 2016. His new novel is Learning to Die.

One of Maloney's top ten "fictional deaths that attempt to examine the experience or the immediate anticipation of dying," as shared at Guardian:
William Stoner in Stoner by John Williams

The death from cancer of this disappointed academic is memorably and movingly related to the very last moment. “What did you expect?” Stoner asks himself as he reviews his so-so life. He feels no pain and his mind is sound. He reaches for a copy of his own neglected book and fingers the pages, wisely appreciating both its insignificance and its significance, then waits patiently “until the old excitement that was like terror fixed him where he lay”, and the book falls from his grasp. Death does not always wear black. Sometimes it’s more of a serene grey.
Read about another entry on the list.

Stoner is among Simon Kernick's six best books, The Secret Teacher author's ten top books about teaching, Jamie Fewery's ten best fictional fathers, and Colum McCann's top ten novels featuring poets.

--Marshal Zeringue

Michael Braddick's "The Common Freedom of the People," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Common Freedom of the People: John Lilburne and the English Revolution by Michael Braddick.

The entry begins:
This story is the perfect vehicle for James McAvoy.

Lilburne fought his political battles as a martyr rather than a soldier—his tribulations gave testimony of the righteousness of his cause. His sufferings were very real, including a savage public beating through the streets of London in 1638, sometimes appalling conditions of imprisonment and a lonely exile at the end of his life. In all he spent more than half of his adult life in prison or exile and survived three trials for his life (one under each of the governments under which he lived). He also fought at two of the major battles of the English civil war, was shot through the arm and nearly lost an eye during military drill.

He was not a big man—following the 1500 strokes with knotted cords he received in 1638 he referred to himself as a ‘stripling’—but he withstood all this, providing a standing indictment of the tyranny of all the regimes under which he lived.

His enemies blamed him for his tribulations. Consistently in trouble for...[read on]
Learn more about The Common Freedom of the People at the Oxford University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: The Common Freedom of the People.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top crime novels set in small-town Australia

Emma Viskic is the author of the multi-award-winning Caleb Zelic series. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, Resurrection Bay, won the 2016 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, as well as an unprecedented three Davitt Awards: Best Adult Novel, Best Debut, and Readers' Choice. The second novel in the series is And Fire Came Down.

At CrimeReads, Viskic tagged five top crime novels set in small-town Australia, including:
The Broken Shore by Peter Temple

The Broken Shore is one of those rare things—a novel beloved by readers, reviewers and award-givers alike. Told through the eyes of the contemplative and wounded, Detective Joe Cashin, the novel centres on a police investigation into the murder of local landowner with an apparently blameless past. Set in the windswept ‘broken shore’ of western Victoria, Temple uses his customary light touch and biting wit to write about a class system Australia isn’t supposed to have, and the racism we won’t admit to.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Christopher Herbert's "Gold Rush Manliness"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Gold Rush Manliness: Race and Gender on the Pacific Slope by Christopher Herbert.

About the book, from the publisher:
The mid-nineteenth-century gold rushes bring to mind raucous mining camps and slapped-together cities populated by carousing miners, gamblers, and prostitutes. Yet many of the white men who went to the gold fields were products of the Victorian era: educated men who valued morality and order. Examining the closely linked gold rushes in California and British Columbia, historian Christopher Herbert shows that these men worried about the meaning of their manhood in the near-anarchic, ethnically mixed societies that grew up around the mines. As white gold rushers emigrated west, they encountered a wide range of people they considered inferior and potentially dangerous to white dominance, including Latin American, Chinese, and Indigenous peoples.

The way that white miners interacted with these groups reflected their conceptions of race and morality, as well as the distinct political principles and strategies of the US and British colonial governments. The white miners were accustomed to white male domination, and their anxiety to continue it played a central role in the construction of colonial regimes. In addition to renovating traditional understandings of the Pacific Slope gold rushes, Herbert argues that historians’ understanding of white manliness has been too fixated on the eastern United States and Britain. In the nineteenth century, popular attention largely focused on the West. It was in the gold fields and the cities they spawned that new ideas of white manliness emerged, prefiguring transformations elsewhere.
Learn more about Gold Rush Manliness at the University of Washington Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Gold Rush Manliness.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Mary Gordon's ten favorite books

Mary Gordon's novels include Final Payments, Pearl, and The Love of My Youth; her nonfiction includes the memoirs The Shadow Man and Circling My Mother; and her collections of short fiction include The Stories of Mary Gordon.

One of her ten favorite books, as shared at
Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf

I first read it because it was on sale for a quarter in a bookstore in Penn Station. I thought it was going to be something like the Albee play. I read it on the train to Boston, and I felt that the prose had broken one of my ribs; it was so powerful. I had been a poet until then, not thinking of writing fiction, and Mrs. Dalloway, let me know you could do in fiction what I wanted to do in poetry.
Read about another entry on the list.

Mrs. Dalloway also appears on Andrew O'Hagan's six favorite books list, Elizabeth Strout's six favorite books list, Juan Gabriel Vásquez's six favorite books list, Becky Ferreira's list of seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship, Rebecca Jane Stokes's list of seven favorite fictional shopaholics, Suzette Field's top 10 list of literary party hosts, Jennie Rooney's top ten list of women travelers in fiction, John Mullan's list of ten of the best prime ministers in fiction, and among Michael Cunningham's 5 most important books, Dani Shapiro's 10 favorite books, and Kate Walbert's best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Alyssa Palombo reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Alyssa Palombo, author of The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow.

Her entry begins:
Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton: This book is the perfect eerie, atmospheric fall read. The novel is set in the fictional village of Three Graces, where long ago a witch made a pact with the devil, and forever after no sickness or evil or misfortune shall befall anyone in the village – so long as every few years a boy is sacrificed to the devil in the forest. The plot centers on three friends: Rhun, the likely next “saint”; Arthur, who wants nothing more than to become a saint and prove himself; and Mairwen, daughter of the village’s witch. When a sacrifice is demanded early, things in Three Graces begin to take an odd turn. I’m...[read on]
About The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel, from the publisher:
When Ichabod Crane arrives in the spooky little village of Sleepy Hollow as the new schoolmaster, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to him. Through their shared love of books and music, they form a friendship that quickly develops into romance. Ichabod knows that as an itinerant schoolteacher of little social standing, he has nothing to offer the wealthy Katrina – unlike her childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, who is the suitor Katrina’s father favors.

But when romance gives way to passion, Ichabod and Katrina embark on a secret love affair, sneaking away into the woods after dark to be together – all while praying they do not catch sight of Sleepy Hollow’s legendary Headless Horseman. That is, until All Hallows’s Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears, leaving Katrina alone and in a perilous position.

Enlisting the help of her friend – and rumored witch – Charlotte Jansen, Katrina seeks the truth of Ichabod Crane’s disappearance, investigating the forest around Sleepy Hollow using unconventional – often magical – means. What they find forces Katrina to question everything she once knew, and to wonder if the Headless Horseman is perhaps more than just a story after all. In Alyssa Palombo's The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel nothing is as it seems, and love is a thing even death won't erase.
Visit Alyssa Palombo's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Violinist of Venice.

The Page 69 Test: The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence.

My Book, The Movie: The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel.

Writers Read: Alyssa Palombo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six classic stories with supernatural crimes at their center

Robert Masello is a former journalist, TV writer, and the bestselling author of many novels and nonfiction books, many of them supernatural thrillers with a strong historical foundation. They include The Einstein Prophecy, The Jekyll Revelation, The Romanov Cross, The Medusa Amulet, and his most recent work, The Night Crossing.

At CrimeReads Masello tagged "a half dozen of the most famous and influential supernatural novels and the intriguing, even unique, crimes central to their cores," including:
Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Crime: Identity Theft

Yes, yes, Dr. Jekyll did voluntarily conjure up Mr. Hyde—his evil alter-ego—by imbibing those mad concoctions, but he never expected the villain to take over! At will! Nor could the good doctor have foreseen the global shortage of the peculiarly-tainted chemical he would need to whip up more of the mysterious cocktails needed to remedy his situation. That said, Mr. Hyde is launched on a career of crime and depravity that manifests itself early on when he tramples an innocent girl at night (and buys himself out of the predicament using Jekyll’s checking account) and culminates in the brutal murder of the respectable Sir Danvers Carew, beaten to death with a walking stick. In an interesting coincidence, one which inspired me to write a novel called The Jekyll Revelation, the stage play of Jekyll and Hyde opened at the Lyceum Theater in the summer of 1888, just when Jack the Ripper began his lethal rampage in the East End. If you’re looking for the true identity of the Ripper, look no further—I’ve got a theory, elucidated in the book.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde also appears on J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison's list of eleven top vile villains in fiction, Chris Howard's top five list of addictive books featuring sci-fi drugs, Steve Toutonghi's list of six top books that expand our mental horizons, Irvine Welsh's list of six favorite books that explore human duality, the Huffington Post's list of classic works that are all under 200 pages, Koren Zailckas's top 11 list of favorite evil characters, Stuart Evers's list of the top ten homes in literature, H.M. Castor's top ten list of dark and haunted heroes and heroines and John Mullan's list of ten of the best butlers in literature, and among Yann Martel's six favorite books. It is one of Ali Shaw's top ten transformation stories and Nicholas Frankel's five best pieces of decadent writing from the nineteenth century.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Beth Cato's "Roar of Sky"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Roar of Sky by Beth Cato.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this stunning conclusion to the acclaimed Blood of Earth trilogy—a thrilling alternate history laced with earth magic, fantastic creatures, and steampunk elements—geomancer Ingrid must find a way to use her extraordinary abilities to save her world from the woman hell-bent on destroying it.

Thanks to her geomantic magic, Ingrid has successfully eluded Ambassador Blum, the power-hungry kitsune who seeks to achieve world domination for the Unified Pacific. But using her abilities has taken its toll: Ingrid’s body has been left severely weakened, and she must remain on the run with her friends Cy and Fenris.

Hoping to learn more about her magical roots and the strength her bloodline carries, Ingrid makes her way across the Pacific to Hawaii, home to the ancient volcano goddess Madam Pele. What she discovers in this paradise is not at all what she expects—and perhaps exactly what she needs.

But Ambassador Blum comes from the same world of old magic and mythic power. And if Ingrid cannot defeat her once and for all, she knows Blum will use that power to take the lives of everyone she holds dear before escalating a war that will rip the world to pieces.
Visit Beth Cato's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Clockwork Dagger.

My Book, The Movie: The Clockwork Crown.

The Page 69 Test: Breath of Earth.

The Page 69 Test: Call of Fire.

The Page 69 Test: Roar of Sky.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 29, 2018

Six scary books for Halloween

Daniel Mallory Ortberg is the author of The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror. Two of six scary stories or story collections he tagged at the Guardian:
If you want to spend an absolutely panicked evening writhing under a book, you can’t go wrong with Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. It features one of the most memorable and deeply sympathetic horror protagonists I’ve ever come across, and has one of the best opening paragraphs in literature: “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone. ” But, for all the new Netflix series, everyone only gets to read Jackson for the first time once. So if you’re an old Jackson hound but haven’t got round to her previous novel The Sundial, the tale of a monstrous family in another eerie house, it has as jarring a finale as anything she wrote.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Catherine Reef reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Catherine Reef, author of Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein's Creator.

Her entry begins:
I recently read Mark Ford’s Thomas Hardy: Half a Londoner, which opens with an incident worthy of Mary Shelley. It seems that when Hardy died, in 1928, there was a tussle over his body. Hardy had requested burial in Stinsford Churchyard, alongside his rural Dorset family and his first wife, Emma Gifford Hardy. But his literary executor successfully lobbied for a resting place in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner, a tribute that Florence Dugdale Hardy, the writer’s widow, was inclined to accept. To act in keeping with Hardy’s wishes yet allow the nation to honor him in its manner most fitting, a compromise was reached: the writer’s heart was removed from his chest and buried at Stinsford; the rest of his body was then cremated and deposited at Poets’ Corner.

Ford had my attention, and he held it to the end, as he used the lenses of biography and criticism to reveal a way of looking at Thomas Hardy. Ford’s Hardy was someone with rural, working-class roots who was changed by exposure to city life.

The son of a builder, Hardy left Dorset and went to London in 1862, at twenty-one, to be an architect’s apprentice. In his off hours he adhered to a rigorous program of self-education, visiting galleries and museums, reading demanding texts, attending concerts and the theater, and writing poetry. He had literary ambitions, but after failing to find success as a poet, in 1867 he returned to Dorset, determined to...[read on]
About Mary Shelley, from the publisher:
On the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, comes a riveting biography of its author, Mary Shelley, whose life reads like a dark gothic novel, filled with scandal, death, drama, and one of the strangest love stories in literary history.

The story of Frankenstein’s creator is a strange, romantic, and tragic one, as deeply compelling as the novel itself. Mary ran away to Lake Geneva with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley when she was just sixteen. It was there, during a cold and wet summer, that she first imagined her story about a mad scientist who brought a corpse back to life. Success soon followed for Mary, but also great tragedy and misfortune.

Catherine Reef brings this passionate woman, brilliant writer, and forgotten feminist into crisp focus, detailing a life that was remarkable both before and after the publication of her iconic masterpiece.
Visit Catherine Reef's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Catherine Reef & Nandi.

The Page 69 Test: Frida & Diego.

My Book, The Movie: Noah Webster.

The Page 99 Test: Florence Nightingale.

My Book, The Movie: Victoria: Portrait of a Queen.

The Page 99 Test: Victoria: Portrait of a Queen.

The Page 99 Test: Mary Shelley.

Writers Read: Catherine Reef.

--Marshal Zeringue

Curtis Sittenfeld’s ten desert island books

Curtis Sittenfeld’s books include the novels Prep and Eligible and the short-story collection, You Think It, I’ll Say It. One of her ten desert island books, as shared at
If You Follow Me, by Malena Watrous

A recent college graduate moves to Japan to teach English and struggles with (a) her feelings and (b) local rules about disposing of garbage. This novel is very smart and very funny.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: If You Follow Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ellen Winner's "How Art Works"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: How Art Works: A Psychological Exploration by Ellen Winner.

About the book, from the publisher:
There is no end of talk and of wondering about 'art' and 'the arts.' This book examines a number of questions about the arts (broadly defined to include all of the arts). Some of these questions come from philosophy. Examples include:

· What makes something art?
· Can anything be art?
· Do we experience "real" emotions from the arts?
· Why do we seek out and even cherish sorrow and fear from art when we go out of our way to avoid these very emotions in real life?
· How do we decide what is good art? Do aesthetic judgments have any objective truth value?
· Why do we devalue fakes even if we -- indeed, even the experts--- can't tell them apart from originals?
· Does fiction enhance our empathy and understanding of others? Is art-making therapeutic?

Others are "common sense" questions that laypersons wonder about. Examples include:

· Does learning to play music raise a child's IQ?
· Is modern art something my kid could do?
· Is talent a matter of nature or nurture?

This book examines puzzles about the arts wherever their provenance - as long as there is empirical research using the methods of social science (interviews, experimentation, data collection, statistical analysis) that can shed light on these questions. The examined research reveals how ordinary people think about these questions, and why they think the way they do - an inquiry referred to as intuitive aesthetics. The book shows how psychological research on the arts has shed light on and often offered surprising answers to such questions.
Learn more about How Art Works at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: How Art Works.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Six of the best examples of sci-fi worldbuilding

John Scalzi's latest novel is The Consuming Fire.

At The Week magazine, he tagged six favorite sci-fi works, including:
The Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin (2015–17).

Each of the three novels of this trilogy won the prestigious Hugo Award, which is a first and wholly deserved. Jemisin's world is literally shattering, and the characters, human and otherwise, are shaping the future in unexpected ways. The Broken Earth is a monumental achievement, from a voice like no other in the field.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Broken Earth series is among Joel Cunningham's eleven top sci-fi & fantasy books or series with a powerful message of social justice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: D. S. Butler's "Bring Them Home"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Bring Them Home (Detective Karen Hart) by D. S. Butler.

About the book, from the publisher:
A perfect village. A perfect crime.

When two young girls disappear from their primary school, the village of Heighington is put on high alert—and not for the first time. Called in to investigate, Detective Karen Hart is sure that parallels with a previous disappearance are anything but coincidental.

DS Hart is still reeling from a case she tried and failed to solve eighteen months ago, when a young woman vanished without a trace. She’s no nearer to the truth of what happened to Amy Fisher, but with two children missing now too, the stakes have never been higher. As she looks to the past for clues, she must confront her own haunting loss, a nightmare she is determined to spare other families.

Hart soon realises that nothing in this close-knit Lincolnshire community is what it seems. Pursuing the investigation with personal vengeance, she finds herself in conflict with her scrupulous new boss, but playing by the rules will have to wait. Because while there’s no shortage of suspects, the missing girls are running out of time…
Visit D.S. Butler's website.

My Book, The Movie: Bring Them Home.

The Page 69 Test: Bring Them Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books featuring women in love with women

Kate Heartfield's new time-travel novella is Alice Payne Arrives. One of the author's five favorite SFF books with F/F relationships, as shared at
Everfair by Nisi Shawl

Everfair is an alternate history that re-imagines and re-examines one of the worst atrocities of the 19th century: King Leopold of Belgium’s murderous Congo Free State. What if African-American missionaries and British socialists had bought a piece of land from Leopold and tried to establish a utopia there, a haven for refugees and enslaved people? Of course, the land isn’t Leopold’s to sell in the first place, and the rightful king of that land naturally has some opinions.

Everfair is a complex, fascinating critique of colonialism and white supremacy—and it uses steampunk to do it. The airships and prosthetics of Everfair develop out of the state of war and the needs of its characters.

Two of those characters are women in love. Lisette Toutournier begins the novel as mistress to an older Englishman who engages her as a nanny to his children. She falls in love with his wife, Daisy Albin. These two women are passionate soulmates but the racist, patriarchal and colonial toxicity of their world continually buffets and disrupts their relationship.

Everfair is a book about nations, in which nothing is easy and nobody is right. Throughout, the passion of these two women is a constant refrain, like hope, as Daisy whispers in Lisette’s ear: “Where can we meet? Chérie—how soon?”
Read about another entry on the list.

Everfair is among Ginn Hale's five top alternate histories that embrace diversity.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Pg. 99: Peter Hart-Brinson's "The Gay Marriage Generation"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Gay Marriage Generation: How the LGBTQ Movement Transformed American Culture by Peter Hart-Brinson.

About the book, from the publisher:
The generational and social thinking changes that caused an unprecedented shift toward support for gay marriage

How did gay marriage—something unimaginable two decades ago—come to feel inevitable to even its staunchest opponents? Drawing on over 95 interviews with two generations of Americans, as well as historical analysis and public opinion data, Peter Hart-Brinson argues that a fundamental shift in our understanding of homosexuality sparked the generational change that fueled gay marriage’s unprecedented rise. Hart-Brinson shows that the LGBTQ movement’s evolution and tactical responses to oppression caused Americans to reimagine what it means to be gay and what gay marriage would mean to society at large. While older generations grew up imagining gays and lesbians in terms of their behavior, younger generations came to understand them in terms of their identity. Over time, as the older generation and their ideas slowly passed away, they were replaced by a new generational culture that brought gay marriage to all fifty states.

Through revealing interviews, Hart-Brinson explores how different age groups embrace, resist, and create society’s changing ideas about gay marriage. Religion, race, contact with gay people, and the power of love are all topics that weave in and out of these fascinating accounts, sometimes influencing opinions in surprising ways. The book captures a wide range of voices from diverse social backgrounds at a critical moment in the culture wars, right before the turn of the tide. The story of gay marriage’s rapid ascent offers profound insights about how the continuous remaking of the population through birth and death, mixed with our personal, biographical experiences of our shared history and culture, produces a society that is continually in flux and constantly reinventing itself anew.

An intimate portrait of social change with national implications, The Gay Marriage Generation is a significant contribution to our understanding of what causes generational change and how gay marriage became the reality in the United States.
Learn more about The Gay Marriage Generation at the NYU Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Gay Marriage Generation.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Eliot Peper reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Eliot Peper, author of Borderless.

His entry begins:
Last week, I was lucky enough to participate on a panel at New York Comic Con about politics in speculative fiction. Among the other panelists was the estimable Robert Jackson Bennett, whose latest novel I read and loved. Foundryside is a thought-provoking epic fantasy starring a scrappy thief-cum-spy set in a world where items can be "scrived" to think for themselves and bend natural laws. Packed with intrigue and adventure, one thing in particular really resonated with me:...[read on]
About Borderless, from the publisher:
Information is power, and whoever controls the feed rules the world in this all-too-plausible follow-up to the science fiction thriller Bandwidth.

Exiled from Washington after a covert operation gone wrong, Diana is building a new life as a freelance spy, though her obsessive secrecy is driving away the few friends and allies she can count on. When she’s hired to investigate the world’s leading techno capitalist, she unknowingly accepts an assignment with a dark ulterior purpose. Navigating a labyrinth of cutouts and false fronts, Diana discovers a plot to nationalize the global feed.

As tech and politics speed toward a catastrophic reckoning, Diana must reconcile the sins of her past with her dreams of tomorrow. How she deploys the secrets in her arsenal will shape the future of a planet on the brink of disaster. Doing the right thing means risking everything to change the rules of the game. But how much is freedom really worth?
Visit Eliot Peper's website.

Writers Read: Eliot Peper.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven recent SFF titles with positive transgender representation

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Ross Johnson tagged eleven recent trans-positive SFF works, including:
The Drowning Girl, by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Trans author Caitlin Kiernan’s novel The Drowning Girl similarly works on the level of fable, but of a much darker sort. It’s the fictionalized memoir of India, a wildly unreliable narrator who encounters a mysterious woman hitchhiking by the side of the road. The strange encounter puts significant strains on India’s mental health and on her relationship with her girlfriend, a trans woman named Abalyn Armitage. It’s a dense, rainswept psychological thriller that might be about an encounter with the supernatural, or might be a story of mental illness. Either way, Abalyn remains the steady center of India’s world, a woman who paints a picture of her own trans life that is by no means entirely rosy, but very real.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Drowning Girl is among Kendare Blake's favorite reads that somehow star creepy water and Peter Straub's six favorite books.

My Book, The Movie: The Drowning Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 26, 2018

Scott J. Holliday's "Machine City," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Machine City by Scott J. Holliday.

The entry begins:
Someone said to me last night, "Tom Hardy should play Barnes." I think they were right. I don't tend to think of a real human being as my protagonist or antagonist, but the image of Hardy as John Barnes just fits perfectly well.

Also, Morgan Freeman should play Barnes's partner, William Franklin.

If I were directing I would take cues from...[read on]
Visit Scott J. Holliday's website.

My Book, The Movie: Machine City.

--Marshal Zeringue

Meg Wolitzer's ten favorite books

Meg Wolitzer’s newest novel is The Female Persuasion.

One of her ten favorite books, as shared at
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This first-person dystopian narrative is disarming, chatty (for a while), and ultimately crushingly sad in its inevitability.
Read about another entry on the list.

Never Let Me Go is on Jeff Somers's lists of nine science fiction novels that imagine the future of healthcare and "five pairs of books that have nothing to do with each other—and yet have everything to do with each other" and eight tales of technology run amok and top seven speculative works for those who think they hate speculative fiction, a list of five books that shaped Jason Gurley's Eleanor, Anne Charnock's list of five favorite books with fictitious works of art, Esther Inglis-Arkell's list of nine great science fiction books for people who don't like science fiction, Sabrina Rojas Weiss's list of ten favorite boarding school novels, Allegra Frazier's top four list of great dystopian novels that made it to the big screen, James Browning's top ten list of boarding school books, Jason Allen Ashlock and Mink Choi's top ten list of tragic love stories, Allegra Frazier's list of seven characters whose jobs are worse than yours, Shani Boianjiu's list of five top novels about coming of age, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five top "What If?" books, Lloyd Shepherd's top ten list of weird histories, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best men writing as women in literature and ten of the best sentences as titles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: P. J. Vernon's "When You Find Me"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: When You Find Me by P. J. Vernon.

About the book, from the publisher:
Her husband is missing.

Visiting her family’s South Carolina estate, socialite Gray Godfrey wakes from a night out to an empty bed. Her husband Paul is gone and a thrashing hangover has wiped her memory clean. At first, she’s relieved for the break from her tumultuous marriage; perhaps Paul just needed some space. But when his car is found abandoned on the highway, Gray must face the truth: Paul is gone. And Gray may not want him found.

Her life is unraveling.

When a stranger named Annie calls claiming to know Paul’s whereabouts, Gray reluctantly accepts her help. But this ally is not what she seems: soon Annie is sending frightening messages and revealing disturbing secrets only Gray could know. As Annie’s threats escalate and Gray’s grip on reality begins to slip, the life she thought she had and the dark truth she’s been living begin to merge, leaving an unsettling question: What does Annie want? And what will she do to get it?

A chilling look at marriage, madness, and the lives we think we lead, When You Find Me is a daring debut from a talented new voice in psychological suspense.
Visit P. J. Vernon's website.

The Page 69 Test: When You Find Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five spooky novels set in real places

Alyssa Palombo is a writer living and working in Buffalo, NY. She attended Canisius College in Buffalo, where she majored in English and creative writing with a minor in music. She is a classically trained mezzo-soprano who also dabbles in playing piano. When not writing, Palombo can usually be found reading, hanging out and laughing way too hard at nonsensical inside jokes with friends, traveling (or dreaming of her next travel destination), at a concert, or planning for next Halloween. She is a metalhead and a self-proclaimed French fry connoisseur. She also owns way too many hoodies, pairs of sunglasses, and pajamas, but never enough books.

Palombo is the author of three historical novels, The Violinist of Venice, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, and The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel.

At she tagged five favorite spooky books set in real places, including:
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

Another favorite of mine, this dual-timeline novel is set in and near Salem, Massachusetts, and centers on a young graduate student who makes an unexpected discovery in the course of her research: there may have been a heretofore unknown Salem woman hanged as a witch who may actually have been a witch after all. In between showing us glimpses of the Salem of the past, the story follows heroine Connie through her research—and a budding romance—as she begins to discover a very personal connection to the events of Salem’s past. New England—and certainly Salem in particular—is so chock full of history, and Howe captures that vibe perfectly in this book. And Howe just recently announced a sequel to this book, entitled The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs, which is set to be released June of next year. So read Deliverance Dane before the second book comes out!
Read about another entry on the list.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is among Entertainment Weekly's ten wickedly great books about witches.

My Book, The Movie: Alyssa Palombo's The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 25, 2018

What is Daniel Torday reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Daniel Torday, author of Boomer1: A Novel.

His entry begins:
I'm plagued by an affliction where I always have about six books going at the same time-- I'll never lose the excitement of cracking a new novel or story collection, and I'll never underestimate how slowly a good book deserves to be read.

So I'm currently 400pp into The Magic Mountain, and hope to finish while there are still coral reefs. I've read about half the stories in Lauren Groff's Florida, the best of which are...[read on]
About Boomer1, from the publisher:
Bluegrass musician, former journalist and editor, and now PhD in English, Mark Brumfeld has arrived at his thirties with significant debt and no steady prospects. His girlfriend Cassie—a punk bassist in an all-female band, who fled her Midwestern childhood for a new identity—finds work at a “new media” company. When Cassie refuses his marriage proposal, Mark leaves New York and returns to the basement of his childhood home in the Baltimore suburbs.

Desperate and humiliated, Mark begins to post a series of online video monologues that critique Baby Boomers and their powerful hold on the job market. But as his videos go viral, and while Cassie starts to build her career, Mark loses control of what he began—with consequences that ensnare them in a matter of national security.

Told through the perspectives of Mark, Cassie, and Mark’s mother, Julia, a child of the '60s whose life is more conventional than she ever imagined, Boomer1 is timely, suspenseful, and in every line alert to the siren song of endless opportunity that beckons and beguiles all of us.
Visit Daniel Torday's website.

Writers Read: Daniel Torday.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nose in a book: Ed Lin

Who: Ed Lin

What: 99 Ways to Die by Ed Lin

When: October 2018

Where: Giant Robot 2 - GR2 Gallery (Los Angeles)

Photo credit: Chiwan Choi

Visit Ed Lin's website.

Learn more about 99 Ways to Die.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about steroids

Matthew Sperling joined University College London in 2016 as Lecturer in Literature in English.

His first novel is Astroturf--"part black comedy, part literary thriller – in which much of the action takes place in the gym and on online bodybuilding and steroid forums."

One of Sperling's ten top books about steroids, as shared at the Guardian:
Game of Shadows by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams (2006)

The effectiveness of synthetic hormones in modern sporting competition is undeniable, even if the extent of their use across different sports is heavily stigmatised and shrouded in secrecy. Game of Shadows is the authoritative story of how Victor Conte’s Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO for short) supplied steroids to many of the major figures in US baseball and athletics in the 90s and early 2000s, and the scandal that followed.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Holly Case's "The Age of Questions"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Age of Questions: Or, A First Attempt at an Aggregate History of the Eastern, Social, Woman, American, Jewish, Polish, Bullion, Tuberculosis, and Many Other Questions over the Nineteenth Century, and Beyond by Holly Case.

About the book, from the publisher:
A groundbreaking history of the Big Questions that dominated the nineteenth century

In the early nineteenth century, a new age began: the age of questions. In the Eastern and Belgian questions, as much as in the slavery, worker, social, woman, and Jewish questions, contemporaries saw not interrogatives to be answered but problems to be solved. Alexis de Tocqueville, Victor Hugo, Karl Marx, Frederick Douglass, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Rosa Luxemburg, and Adolf Hitler were among the many who put their pens to the task. The Age of Questions asks how the question form arose, what trajectory it followed, and why it provoked such feverish excitement for over a century. Was there a family resemblance between questions? Have they disappeared, or are they on the rise again in our time?

In this pioneering book, Holly Case undertakes a stunningly original analysis, presenting, chapter by chapter, seven distinct arguments and frameworks for understanding the age. She considers whether it was marked by a progressive quest for emancipation (of women, slaves, Jews, laborers, and others); a steady, inexorable march toward genocide and the "Final Solution"; or a movement toward federation and the dissolution of boundaries. Or was it simply a farce, a false frenzy dreamed up by publicists eager to sell subscriptions? As the arguments clash, patterns emerge and sharpen until the age reveals its full and peculiar nature.

Turning convention on its head with meticulous and astonishingly broad scholarship, The Age of Questions illuminates how patterns of thinking move history.
Learn more about The Age of Questions at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Age of Questions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

James Tucker's "The Holdouts," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Holdouts by James Tucker.

The entry begins:
Tough choice. Buddy Lock is about 6’1”, with short black hair. He carries an extra 20 pounds. Ben Affleck would be a good fit, but he might still be in rehab. Another choice: Keanu Reeves. Or we could go younger, say one of the Hemsworths. The role requires a tough guy exterior with a heart of gold who can be a new father figure for a ten-year-old boy.

Mei, Buddy’s fiancée who is a beautiful Asian woman who can fight off enemies and care for the boy, could be played by...[read on]
Visit James Tucker's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Holdouts.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Zachary J. Lechner reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Zachary J. Lechner, author of The South of the Mind: American Imaginings of White Southernness, 1960–1980.

His entry begins:
Although my research specialization requires that most of my reading pertain to US history, I try to branch out into other areas, when possible, to keep my mind stimulated and to pick up writing techniques from other authors, including novelists.

Currently, I’m on a bit of a Joan Didion kick, inspired by my recent viewing of the 2017 Netflix documentary Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold. I just finished reading Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968), Didion’s classic collection of 1960s essays, many of which, in some way, detail the unraveling state of American society. The book’s centerpiece, “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” first published in the Saturday Evening Post in September 1968, remains a stunning, fly-on-the-wall account of the San Francisco hippie scene as its initial heady idealism devolved into drug-fueled paranoia and ugliness. Didion’s image of a five-year-old child, lips coated with white lipstick, tripping on acid can still shock readers (as it did me) more than...[read on]
About The South of the Mind, from the publisher:
With the nation reeling from the cultural and political upheavals of the 1960s era, imaginings of the white South as a place of stability represented a bulwark against unsettling problems, from suburban blandness and empty consumerism to race riots and governmental deceit. A variety of individuals during and after the civil rights era, including writers, journalists, filmmakers, musicians, and politicians, envisioned white southernness as a manly, tradition-loving, communal, authentic—and often rural or small-town—notion that both symbolized a refuge from modern ills and contained the tools for combating them. The South of the Mind tells this story of how many Americans looked to the country’s most maligned region to save them during the 1960s and 1970s.

In this interdisciplinary work, Zachary J. Lechner bridges the fields of southern studies, southern history, and post–World War II American cultural and popular culture history in an effort to discern how conceptions of a tradition-bound, “timeless” South shaped Americans’ views of themselves and their society’s political and cultural fragmentations. Wide-ranging chapters detail the iconography of the white South during the civil rights movement; hippies’ fascination with white southern life; the Masculine South of George Wallace, Walking Tall, and Deliverance; the differing southern rock stylings of the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd; and the healing southernness of Jimmy Carter. The South of the Mind demonstrates that we cannot hope to understand recent U.S. history without exploring how people have conceived the South, as well as what those conceptualizations have omitted.
Learn more about The South of the Mind at the University of Georgia Press website.

Writers Read: Zachary J. Lechner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven YA books for "The Haunting of Hill House" fans

At the BN Teen Blog, Nicole Hill tagged seven YA books for fans of The Haunting of Hill House, including:
Possess, by Gretchen McNeil

Haunted dolls may be the most startling trope ever to have been created, and McNeil uses them to great effect in Possess. The dolls aren’t the only problem for Bridget Liu, who starts hearing voices in her head after her father is killed. The voices, as it turns out, belong to demons, whom Bridget must send back to the great (or terrible, maybe) beyond. Not all the spirits Bridget encounters, though, are evil, and their existence makes her mission murky—as does the interview with her father’s killer, which reveals a far broader supernatural plot.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: D.B. Jackson's "Time's Children"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Time’s Children by D.B. Jackson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Fifteen year-old Tobias Doljan, a Walker trained to travel through time, is called to serve at the court of Daerjen. The sovereign, Mearlan IV, wants him to Walk back fourteen years, to prevent a devastating war which will destroy all of Islevale. Even though the journey will double Tobias’ age, he agrees. But he arrives to discover Mearlan has already been assassinated, and his court destroyed. The only survivor is the infant princess, Sofya. Still a boy inside his newly adult body, Tobias must find a way to protect the princess from assassins, and build himself a future… in the past.
Learn more about the book and author at D. B. Jackson's website and blog.

D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of a dozen fantasy novels.

The Page 69 Test: Thieftaker.

Writers Read: D.B. Jackson.

The Page 69 Test: Time’s Children.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Rachel Kushner’s ten favorite books

Rachel Kushner’s new novel is The Mars Room. One of her ten favorite books, as shared at
Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta

This novel deserves its place on my desert island for how subtle it is, how moving. There is a lightness to its artfulness that deserves reading and rereading. I adore this novel about vision, and film, and women.
Read about another entry on the list.

See Kushner's top ten books about 1970s art.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Sarah McCoy reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Sarah McCoy, author of Marilla of Green Gables: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
Currently, I’m reading Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose. It's just the kind of historical fiction I love: sumptuous details, rich characters, imaginatively playful, and yet historically precise. It takes an adept author to balance all those elements when writing about real people, places, and events—and Rose does it exquisitely. In this case, she’s...[read on]
About Marilla of Green Gables, from the publisher:
A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables ... before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness.

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth "Izzy" Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.
Learn more about the book and author at Sarah McCoy’s website, Facebook page, Instagram page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico.

The Page 69 Test: The Baker's Daughter.

Coffee with a Canine: Sarah McCoy and Gilbert.

The Page 69 Test: The Mapmaker's Children.

My Book, The Movie: The Mapmaker’s Children.

The Page 69 Test: Marilla of Green Gables.

Writers Read: Sarah McCoy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five novels about heroes who shouldn’t babysit your kitten

Weston Ochse is the author of more than twenty books, most recently the SEAL Team 666 series which has been optioned by MGM Films. He's also the author of the Grunt Life series, a military science fiction series concentrating on the lives of PTSD survivors. His first novel, Scarecrow Gods, won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel and his short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His new military horror novel is Burning Sky.

At Ochse tagged five books about heroes who shouldn’t babysit your kitten, including:
First Law Trilogy — Joe Abercrombie

So, I went the other direction. Instead of a nice guy [like Paul Atreides of Dune], I thought of a bad guy, because Danny Trejo proved that bad guys can really be soft and cuddly at times. I tried to picture Logan Ninefingers from Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy and Red Country, sitting in the corner of a smoky tavern, drinking a flagon of ale, and petting a kitten that’s sitting on his chest. I picture it as a nice peaceful scene, right up to the point where a group of lads with shiny new swords spot him and are eager to try their fresh off-the-shelf-weapons on the King of Killers. Somewhere between Logan’s berserker rage and him chewing the face off of one of the eager lads, the kitten gets under the feet of too many hobnailed boots and well… I’ll just stop right there.
Read about another entry on the list.

Coffee with a Canine: Weston Ochse & Goblin, Ghost, and Ghoulie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: George Mastroianni's "Of Mind and Murder"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Of Mind and Murder: Toward a More Comprehensive Psychology of the Holocaust by George R. Mastroianni.

About the book, from the publisher:
How could the Holocaust have happened? How can people do such things to other people? Questions such as these have animated discussion of the Holocaust from our earliest awareness of what had happened. These questions have engaged the lay public as well as academics from many different fields. Psychologists have taken an active role in trying to understand and explain the motivation, thinking, and behavior of all those involved in and affected by the Holocaust.

The present volume is, in part, an attempt to provide a kind of historical roadmap to the diverse psychological explanations and interpretations that have been developed by psychologists over the last several decades. While many psychological discussions of the Holocaust dismiss or diminish the significance of work that antedates the Milgram obedience experiments in the early 1960s, this book engages some of these earlier formulations in detail. It strives to be, in this sense, a more complete history of psychological thought on the Holocaust. As many psychologists now accept the idea that a comprehensive psychology of the Holocaust must include more than social influence, the book addresses the question, "What, then?"

The answer can be found by looking both backward and forward in time. Gordon Allport's 1954 book The Nature of Prejudice remains one of the best psychological attempts to grapple with the Holocaust written, though that was not its primary purpose. In this volume, the reader will find both echoes of Allport and new ideas for ways psychologists can engage this profoundly important subject.
Learn more about Of Mind and Murder at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Of Mind and Murder.

--Marshal Zeringue