Friday, April 30, 2021

Pg. 69: Sofía Segovia's "Tears of Amber"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Tears of Amber by Sofía Segovia.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the bestselling author of The Murmur of Bees comes a transportive novel of two families uprooted by war and united by the bonds of love and courage.

With war looming dangerously close, Ilse’s school days soon turn to lessons of survival. In the harshness of winter, her family must join the largest exodus in human history to survive. As battle lines are drawn and East Prussia’s borders vanish beneath them, they leave their farm and all they know behind for an uncertain future.

But Ilse also has Janusz, her family’s young Polish laborer, by her side. As they flee from the Soviet army, his enchanting folktales keep her mind off the cold, the hunger, and the horrors unfolding around them. He tells her of a besieged kingdom in the Baltic Sea from which spill the amber tears of a heartbroken queen.

Neither of them realizes his stories will prove crucial and prophetic.

Not far away, trying and failing to flee from a vengeful army, Arno and his mother hide in the ruins of a Königsberg mansion, hoping that once the war ends they can reunite their dispersed family. But their stay in the walled city proves untenable when they find themselves dodging bombs and scavenging in the rubble. Soon they’ll become pawns caught between two powerful enemies, on a journey with an unknown destination.

Hope carries these children caught in the crosshairs of war on an extraordinary pilgrimage in which the gift of an amber teardrop is at once a valuable form of currency and a symbol of resilience, one that draws them together against insurmountable odds.
Visit Sofía Segovia's website.

The Page 69 Test: Tears of Amber.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Trish Doller

From my Q&A with Trish Doller, author of Float Plan:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The original title for the book was Apparent Wind, which is an esoteric term regarding the speed of the wind that's hard enough to explain to sailors, let alone to the general public. When I was considering more accessible titles, I remembered that a float plan is something American boaters are supposed to file with the Coast Guard (or with a reliable friend) in case the boater doesn't make their destination. I wondered how many boaters actually file a float plan, and that started me thinking about Anna's journey. In Float Plan, I think the word "float" does most of the heavy lifting until readers get into the story and realize Anna doesn't have much of a plan.

What's in a name?

Anna got her name from a song by...[read on]
Visit Trish Doller's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Trish Doller & Cobi.

My Book, The Movie: Float Plan.

Q&A with Trish Doller.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight of the best novels about war-torn love

Gian Sardar studied creative writing at Loyola Marymount University and is the author of the novel You Were Here, as well as the coauthor of the memoir Psychic Junkie. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and insane dog.

Her new novel is Take What You Can Carry.

At Electric Lit Sardar tagged eight favorite novels about war-torn love. One title on the list:
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

A nameless place under siege, and a love story amidst the chaos. Exit West is about two students who fall in love and try to find refuge through a series of magical portals that transport them to various locations around the world. In spare, exquisite language, this book shows the horrors of war and the refugee crisis, yet manages to be surprisingly hopeful.
Read about another entry on the list.

Exit West is among C Pam Zhang's top ten novels about moving and Helen Phillips's six notable novels involving alternate realities.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Linda L. Richards's "Endings," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Endings by Linda L. Richards.

The entry begins:
I had this moment watching the 2021 Oscars when I saw Halle Berry presenting and I felt a wave of recognition. It was like I could see this cool, elegant woman, again reinvented, embodying the nameless anti-heroine at the heart of my new book, Endings. And why? In part it’s because that character is a cipher. An enigma. She is without weight or substance on her own. Yet she dominates the story remarkably. She is everything. And nothing. Berry delivered that quality at the Oscars this year. That cool demeanor. That jaunty new hair cut. You couldn’t help what was going on behind those wonderful eyes.

So okay Berry. Among other things in her career, she was once a Bond girl (Giacinta "Jinx” Johnson in Die Another Day - 2002). So if we’re thinking former Bond girls (and why not?) what about the always wonderful...[read on]
Visit Linda L. Richards's website.

My Book, The Movie: Endings.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Robert Kanigel's "Hearing Homer’s Song"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Hearing Homer's Song: The Brief Life and Big Idea of Milman Parry by Robert Kanigel.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the acclaimed biographer of Jane Jacobs and Srinivasa Ramanujan comes the first full life and work of arguably the most influential classical scholar of the twentieth century, who overturned long-entrenched notions of ancient epic poetry and enlarged the very idea of literature.

In this literary detective story, Robert Kanigel gives us a long overdue portrait of an Oakland druggist’s son who became known as the “Darwin of Homeric studies.” So thoroughly did Milman Parry change our thinking about the origins of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey that scholars today refer to a “before” Parry and an “after.” Kanigel describes the “before,” when centuries of readers, all the way up until Parry’s trailblazing work in the 1930’s, assumed that the Homeric epics were “written” texts, the way we think of most literature; and the “after” that we now live in, where we take it for granted that they are the result of a long and winding oral tradition. Parry made it his life’s work to develop and prove this revolutionary theory, and Kanigel brilliantly tells his remarkable story–cut short by Parry’s mysterious death by gunshot wound at the age of thirty-three.

From UC Berkeley to the Sorbonne to Harvard to Yugoslavia–where he traveled to prove his idea definitively by studying its traditional singers of heroic poetry–we follow Parry on his idiosyncratic journey, observing just how his early notions blossomed into a full-fledged theory. Kanigel gives us an intimate portrait of Parry’s marriage to Marian Thanhouser and their struggles as young parents in Paris, and explores the mystery surrounding Parry’s tragic death at the Palms Hotel in Los Angeles. Tracing Parry’s legacy to the modern day, Kanigel explores how what began as a way to understand the Homeric epics became the new field of “oral theory,” which today illuminates everything from Beowulf to jazz improvisation, from the Old Testament to hip-hop.
Visit Robert Kanigel's website.

The Page 99 Test: Hearing Homer's Song.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about museums

David Barnett is an author and journalist based in West Yorkshire. After a career working for regional newspapers he embarked upon a freelance career writing features for most of the UK national press. He is the author of the critically-acclaimed Gideon Smith series of Victorian fantasies, published by Tor Books, and teaches journalism part-time at Leeds Trinity University.

Barnett's new novel is The Handover.

At the Guardian he tagged ten favorite books about museums, including:
Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

An obvious choice, perhaps, but Atkinson’s astonishing 1995 debut is a masterclass in portraying how a museum — in this case, the York Castle Museum — can be a nexus of past lives that exist simultaneously in the present. It tells the story of Ruby Lennox’s life interspersed with the lives of five generations of her female ancestors, presenting them like exhibits in glass cases to be pored over and compared.
Read about another entry on the list.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum is among Anna Quindlen's six favorite books by contemporary female authors, Kate Young's ten fictional feasts for Christmas, Miranda Doyle's ten top books about lies, Jenny Eclair's six best books, and Ester Bloom's top fifteen books everyone should read before having kids.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Alicia Beckman's "Bitterroot Lake"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Bitterroot Lake: A Novel by Alicia Beckman.

About the book, from the publisher:
When four women separated by tragedy reunite at a lakeside Montana lodge, murder forces them to confront everything they thought they knew about the terrifying accident that tore them apart, in Agatha Award-winning author Alicia Beckman's suspense debut

Twenty-five years ago, during a celebratory weekend at historic Whitetail Lodge, Sarah McCaskill had a vision. A dream. A nightmare. When a young man was killed, Sarah's guilt over having ignored the warning in her dreams devastated her. Her friendships with her closest friends, and her sister, fell apart as she worked to build a new life in a new city. But she never stopped loving Whitetail Lodge on the shores of Bitterroot Lake.

Now that she's a young widow, her mother urges her to return to the lodge for healing. But when she arrives, she's greeted by an old friend--and by news of a murder that's clearly tied to that tragic day she'll never forget.

And the dreams are back, too. What dangers are they warning of this time? As Sarah and her friends dig into the history of the lodge and the McCaskill family, they uncover a legacy of secrets and make a discovery that gives a chilling new meaning to the dreams. Now, they can no longer ignore the ominous portents from the past that point to a danger more present than any of them could know.
Visit Leslie Budewitz's & Alicia Beckman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Bitterroot Lake.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Pg. 99: Joshua Scacco & Kevin Coe's "The Ubiquitous Presidency"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Ubiquitous Presidency: Presidential Communication and Digital Democracy in Tumultuous Times by Joshua M. Scacco and Kevin Coe.

About the book, from the publisher:
American democracy is in a period of striking tumult. The clash of a rapidly changing socio-technological environment and the traditional presidency has led to an upheaval in the scope and standards of executive leadership. Yet research on the presidency, although abundant, has been slow to adjust to changing realities associated with digital technologies, diverse audiences, and new elite practices. Meanwhile, journalists and the public continue to encounter and shape emerging presidential efforts in deeply consequential ways.

Joshua Scacco and Kevin Coe bring needed insight to this complex situation by offering the first comprehensive framework for understanding contemporary presidential communication in relation to the current socio-technological environment. They call this framework the "ubiquitous presidency." Scacco and Coe argue that presidents harness new opportunities in the media environment to create a nearly constant and highly visible presence in political and nonpolitical arenas. They do this by trying to achieve longstanding presidential goals, namely visibility, adaptation, and control. However, in an environment where accessibility, personalization, and pluralism are omnipresent considerations, the strategies presidents use to achieve these goals are very different from what we once knew.

Using this novel framework as a conceptual anchor, The Ubiquitous Presidency undertakes one of the most expansive analyses of presidential communication to date. Scacco and Coe employ a wide variety of approaches--ranging from surveys and survey-experiments, to large-scale automated content and network analyses, to qualitative textual analysis--to uncover new aspects of the intricate relationship between the president, news media, and the public. Focusing on the presidency since Ronald Reagan, and devoting particular attention to the cases of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, the book uncovers remarkable shifts in communication that test the institution of the presidency and, consequently, democratic governance itself.
Learn more about The Ubiquitous Presidency at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Ubiquitous Presidency.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Julie E. Czerneda

From my Q&A with Julie E. Czerneda, author of Spectrum:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Spectrum is my latest Esen novel and readers may have noticed a pattern to her titles. The first sense I considered when I wrote about Web Shifters, aliens who take on, at the molecular level, the form of another species, was vision. The first book was called Beholder’s Eye because what Esen is able to see, with the eyes she happens to have, matters. I’ve played with variations ever since, always about light. Spectrum? Again, a title to reflect the importance of vision, but also a hint to readers that stellar astronomy will be front and center.

For the last three books, we’ve added “Web Shifter’s Library” to cue readers these stories revolve around Esen and her Human friend Paul’s attempt to provide crucial cultural details to those in crisis, a library where you bring a bit of new information in order to receive what you need to know. Who doesn’t love a library?

What's in a name?

A series brings with it a growing list of names, and if you’re dealing with the far future and masses of aliens, some involve...[read on]
Visit Julie E. Czerneda's website.

The Page 69 Test: To Guard Against the Dark.

The Page 69 Test: The Gossamer Mage.

The Page 69 Test: Mirage.

Q&A with Julie E. Czerneda.

--Marshal Zeringue

The greatest getaway drivers in contemporary crime fiction

Nick Kolakowski’s work has appeared in The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, North American Review, and Carrier Pigeon, among other venues.

His latest novel is Rattlesnake Rodeo.

Kolakowski lives in New York City.

At CrimeReads he tagged "five crime novels that explore the darker side of the American road, filled with anti-heroes looking for one last shot at fulfilling their dreams—if they can survive the next few miles." One title on the list:
The Wheelman, by Duane Swierczynski

Some noir protagonists stay alive through sheer luck. Others do so because they’re stronger and more aggressive than the people sent to take them down. In the case of Lennon, antihero of The Wheelman, survival hinges on an incredible amount of ingenuity, combined with a Road Runner-like refusal to quit driving, running, and/or shooting. It’s fiery and bloody and madcap in equal measure, the thematic polar opposite of an elegiac, wages-of-sin novel like Jim Thompson’s The Getaway.

Like many a fictional getaway driver before him, Lennon just wants his slice of the American Dream, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get it (he’s also incredibly meticulous, tracing out his routes for maximum success). Stillness is his enemy just as much as bullets.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Wheelman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Pg. 69: Robert Dugoni's "In Her Tracks"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: In Her Tracks (Tracy Crosswhite #8) by Robert Dugoni.

About the book, from the publisher:
What family secrets are behind two disappearances? Seattle detective Tracy Crosswhite is determined to uncover the truth in the latest installment of New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni’s heart-stopping series.

Returning from an extended leave in her hometown of Cedar Grove, Detective Tracy Crosswhite finds herself reassigned to the Seattle PD’s cold case unit. As the protective mother of an infant daughter, Tracy is immediately drawn to her first file: the abduction of a five-year-old girl whose parents, embattled in a poisonous divorce, were once prime suspects.

While reconstructing the days leading up to the girl’s disappearance, Tracy is brought into an active investigation with former partner Kinsington Rowe. A young woman has vanished on an isolated jogging trail in North Seattle. Divided between two critical cases, Tracy has little to go on except the treacherous deceptions behind a broken marriage―and now, the secrets hiding behind the closed doors of a deceptively quiet middle-class neighborhood.

To find two missing persons, Tracy will have to follow more than clues, which are both long cold and unsettlingly fresh. Given her own traumatic past, Tracy must also follow her instincts―to whatever dark and dangerous places they may lead.
Visit Robert Dugoni's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Wrongful Death.

The Page 69 Test: Bodily Harm.

My Book, The Movie: Bodily Harm.

The Page 69 Test: Murder One.

My Book, The Movie: Murder One.

My Book, The Movie: The Eighth Sister.

The Page 69 Test: The Eighth Sister.

My Book, The Movie: A Cold Trail.

The Page 69 Test: A Cold Trail.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Agent.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Agent.

Q&A with Robert Dugoni.

The Page 69 Test: In Her Tracks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jeff Eden's "God Save the USSR"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: God Save the USSR: Soviet Muslims and the Second World War by Jeff Eden.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the Second World War, as the Soviet Red Army was locked in brutal combat against the Nazis, Joseph Stalin ended the state's violent, decades-long persecution of religion. In a stunning reversal, priests, imams, rabbis, and other religious elites--many of them newly-released from the Gulag--were tasked with rallying Soviet citizens to a "Holy War" against Hitler. To the delight of some citizens, and to the horror of others, Stalin's reversal encouraged a widespread perception that his "war on religion" was over. A revolution in Soviet religious life ensued: soldiers prayed on the battlefield, entire villages celebrated once-banned holidays, and state-backed religious leaders used their new positions not only to consolidate power over their communities, but also to petition for further religious freedoms. Offering a window on this wartime "religious revolution," God Save the USSR focuses on the Soviet Union's Muslims, using sources in several languages (including Russian, Tatar, Bashkir, Uzbek, and Persian). Drawing evidence from eyewitness accounts, interviews, soldiers' letters, frontline poetry, agents' reports, petitions, and the words of Soviet Muslim leaders, Jeff Eden argues that the religious revolution was fomented simultaneously by the state and by religious Soviet citizens: the state gave an inch, and many citizens took a mile, as atheist Soviet agents looked on in exasperation at the resurgence of unconcealed devotional life.
Learn more about God Save the USSR at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: God Save the USSR.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Kelly Mustian

From my Q&A with Kelly Mustian, author of The Girls in the Stilt House:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Titles almost never come easily to me, but I was in love with my working title for the book that became The Girls in the Stilt House. I wanted a title that was symbolic, meaningful, and intriguing, with a nod to nature. All of that. My publishing team, however, wanted a title that works to draw readers into the story. The Girls in the Stilt House does that. It introduces the young women who are the main characters and speaks to the setting, which is a stilt house hidden away on a swamp. It hints at intrigue. This title has served the novel well. My first love, though? A Jury of Trees.

What's in a name?

I’m a big fan of symbolism and analogy, but not so much with my name choices. I tend to lean toward names that...[read on]
Visit Kelly Mustian's website.

Q&A with Kelly Mustian.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best unstoppable women detectives

M. E. Hilliard is currently a full-time librarian who started out in retail merchandising. Her first job was as an assistant buyer at Lord & Taylor, where her glamour position involved office space in the basement of the Fifth Avenue store. After twelve years of mergers, consolidations, and moves around the country, she went to graduate school and got a Master of Library Science degree. Hilliard has been in the information business ever since, working for public libraries small and large. Originally from the Connecticut shoreline, she has never lost her love of quaint small towns, big cities, and fashion, so she indulges that in her writing. A life-long lover of mystery fiction, she currently lives and works in Florida.

Hilliard's debut mystery is The Unkindness of Ravens: A Greer Hogan Mystery.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten favorite unstoppable women detectives, including:
Elouise "Lou" Norton

L.A. homicide detective Lou Norton has a no-good ex-husband, an estranged father, and a group of girlfriends who keep her grounded and sane. A native Angeleno, Lou shows us the city from the ghetto where she grew up to the parks and mansions around them, because no neighborhood is safe from the monsters that walk among us. Tough but never insensitive, Lou lets the personal inform the professional without overwhelming it, not losing sight of the victims and the reason for seeking justice.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 26, 2021

Pg. 99: Vanessa O'Brien's "To the Greatest Heights"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: To the Greatest Heights: Facing Danger, Finding Humility, and Climbing a Mountain of Truth by Vanessa O'Brien.

About the book, from the publisher:
This riveting and uplifting memoir by Vanessa O’Brien, record-breaking American-British explorer, takes you on an unexpected journey to the top of the world’s highest mountains.

Long before she became the first American woman to summit K2 and the first British woman to return from its summit alive, Vanessa O’Brien was a feisty suburban Detroit teenager forced to reinvent her world in the wake of a devastating loss that destroyed her family.

Making her own way in the world, Vanessa strove to reach her lofty ambitions. Soon, armed with an MBA and a wry sense of humor, she climbed the corporate ladder to great success, but after the 2009 economic meltdown, her career went into a tailspin. She searched for a new purpose and settled on an unlikely goal: climbing Mount Everest. When her first attempt ended in disaster, she trudged home, humbled but wiser. Two years later, she made it to the top of the world. And then she kept going.

Grounded by a cadre of wise-cracking friends and an inimitable British spouse, Vanessa held her own in the intensely competitive world of mountaineering, summiting the highest peak on every continent, and skiing the last degree to the North and South Poles. She set new speed records for the Seven Summits, receiving a Guinness World Record and the Explorers Grand Slam, and finally made peace with her traumatic past. During her attempt on K2, she very nearly gave up. But on the “savage mountain,” which kills one out of every four climbers who summit, Vanessa evolved from an adventurer out to challenge herself to an explorer with a high-altitude perspective on a changing world—and a new call to share her knowledge and passion across the globe.

Told with heart and humor, Vanessa’s journey from suburban Detroit to Everest’s Death Zone to the summit of K2 and beyond, is a transformative story of resilience, higher purpose, and the courage to overcome any obstacle.
Visit Vanessa O'Brien's website.

The Page 99 Test: To the Greatest Heights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Maria Kuznetsova's "Something Unbelievable"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Something Unbelievable: A Novel by Maria Kuznetsova.

About the book, from the publisher:
An overwhelmed new mom discovers unexpected parallels between life in twenty-first-century America and her grandmother’s account of their family’s escape from the Nazis in this sharp, heartfelt novel.

Larissa is a stubborn, brutally honest woman in her eighties, tired of her home in Kiev, Ukraine—tired of everything really, except for her beloved granddaughter, Natasha. Natasha is tired as well, but that’s because she just had a baby, and she’s struggling to balance her roles as a new mother, a wife, a struggling actress, and a host to her husband’s slacker best friend, Stas, who has been staying with them in their cramped one-bedroom apartment in upper Manhattan.

When Natasha asks Larissa to tell the story of her family’s Soviet wartime escape from the Nazis in Kiev, she reluctantly agrees. Maybe Natasha is just looking for distraction from her own life, but Larissa is desperate to make her happy, even though telling the story makes her heart ache. Larissa recounts the nearly three-year period when she fled with her self-absorbed sister, parents, and grandmother to a factory town in the Ural Mountains where they faced starvation, a cholera outbreak, a tragic suicide, and where she was torn in her affections for two brothers from a wealthy family. But neither Larissa nor Natasha can anticipate how loudly these lessons of the past will echo in their present moments.

Something Unbelievable explores with piercing wit and tender feeling just how much our circumstances shape our lives and what we pass on to the younger generations, willingly or not.
Visit Maria Kuznetsova's website.

Q&A with Maria Kuznetsova.

The Page 69 Test: Something Unbelievable.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven of the best graceless literary exits

KT Sparks is a writer and farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Her work has appeared in Pank, Kenyon Review, Electric Lit, Lit Hub, Southern Review of Fiction, Largehearted Boy, Prime Number Magazine, Word Riot, Citron Review, Jersey Devil Press, WhiskeyPaper, and Jellyfish Review, was anthologized in The Lobsters Run Free: Bath Flash Fiction Volume Two and Tulip Tree Press’s Stories that Need to be Told 2019, and was recognized in the New Millennium Writing Awards and The Moth short story competition. Sparks received her MFA from Queens University in Charlotte, where she served as an assistant fiction editor of Qu (a literary magazine).

Four Dead Horses is Sparks’s first novel. The book was a semifinalist in Southeast Missouri State University Press’s Nilsen Prize for a First Novel, took first place in the James River Writers’ Best Unpublished Novel Contest, was excerpted in Richmond Magazine, and won Regal House Publishing’s 2019 Petrichor Prize.

At Lit Hub Sparks tagged seven of her favorite undignified departures in literature, including:
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Mr. Collins personifies the “five minutes past the possibility” aspect of the quintessential graceless exit. He spends an entire chapter proposing to, being refused by, and refusing to accept the refusal of Elizabeth Bennet. To her first rebuff, he responds as stalkers have throughout the ages: “…it is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept.” She pushes him out the door, re-rebuffing him with every shove, exclaiming: “I know not how to express my refusal in such a way as may convince you of its being one.”
Read about another entry on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on Lit Hub's list of twenty-five actually pretty happy couples in literature, Ellie Eaton's list of eight of literature's notable mean girls, Sarah Vaughan's list of nine fictional bad mothers in fiction, Jessica Francis Kane's top ten list of houseguests in fiction, O: The Oprah Magazine's twenty greatest ever romance novels, Cristina Merrill's list of eight of the sexiest curmudgeons in romance, Sarah Ward's ten top list of brothers and sisters in fiction, Tara Sonin's lists of fifty must-read regency romances and seven sweet and swoony romances for wedding season, Grant Ginder's top ten list of book characters we love to hate, Katy Guest's list of six of the best depictions of shyness in fiction, Garry Trudeau's six favorite books list, Ross Johnson's list of seven of the greatest rivalries in fiction, Helen Dunmore's six best books list, Jenny Kawecki's list of eight fictional characters who would make the best travel companions, Peter James's top ten list of works of fiction set in or around Brighton, Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, the Telegraph's list of the ten greatest put-downs in literature, Rebecca Jane Stokes' list of ten fictional families you might enjoy more than the one you'll actually spend the holidays with, Melissa Albert's lists of five fictional characters who deserved better, [fifteen of the] romantic leads (and wannabes) of Austen’s brilliant books and recommended reading for eight villains, Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance, Emma Donoghue's list of five favorite unconventional fictional families, Amelia Schonbek's list of five approachable must-read classics, Jane Stokes's top ten list of the hottest men in required reading, Gwyneth Rees's top ten list of books about siblings, the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Paula Byrne's list of the ten best Jane Austen characters, Robert McCrum's list of the top ten opening lines of novels in the English language, a top ten list of literary lessons in love, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families, Cathy Cassidy's top ten list of stories about sisters, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked clerics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best housekeepers in fiction, ten great novels with terrible original titles, and ten of the best visits to Brighton in literature, Luke Leitch's top ten list of the most successful literary sequels ever, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer. Richard Price has never read it, but it is the book Mary Gordon cares most about sharing with her children.

The Page 99 Test: Pride and Prejudice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Pg. 99: Kim Todd's "Sensational"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Sensational: The Hidden History of America's “Girl Stunt Reporters” by Kim Todd.

About the book, from the publisher:
A vivid social history that brings to light the “girl stunt reporters” of the Gilded Age who went undercover to expose corruption and abuse in America, and redefined what it meant to be a woman and a journalist—pioneers whose influence continues to be felt today.

In the waning years of the nineteenth century, women journalists across the United States risked reputation and their own safety to expose the hazardous conditions under which many Americans lived and worked. In various disguises, they stole into sewing factories to report on child labor, fainted in the streets to test public hospital treatment, posed as lobbyists to reveal corrupt politicians. Inventive writers whose in-depth narratives made headlines for weeks at a stretch, these “girl stunt reporters” changed laws, helped launch a labor movement, championed women’s rights, and redefined journalism for the modern age.

The 1880s and 1890s witnessed a revolution in journalism as publisher titans like Hearst and Pulitzer used weapons of innovation and scandal to battle it out for market share. As they sought new ways to draw readers in, they found their answer in young women flooding into cities to seek their fortunes. When Nellie Bly went undercover into Blackwell’s Insane Asylum for Women and emerged with a scathing indictment of what she found there, the resulting sensation created opportunity for a whole new wave of writers. In a time of few jobs and few rights for women, here was a path to lives of excitement and meaning.

After only a decade of headlines and fame, though, these trailblazers faced a vicious public backlash. Accused of practicing “yellow journalism,” their popularity waned until “stunt reporter” became a badge of shame. But their influence on the field of journalism would arc across a century, from the Progressive Era “muckraking” of the 1900s to the personal “New Journalism” of the 1960s and ’70s, to the “immersion journalism” and “creative nonfiction” of today. Bold and unconventional, these writers changed how people would tell stories forever.
Visit Kim Todd's website.

The Page 99 Test: Sensational.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Eleanor Morse

From my Q&A with Eleanor Morse, author of Margreete’s Harbor: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

To give you a little background, Margreete's Harbor traces the life of a family of six people in three generations living under one roof during the 1950s and 1960s. They all end up together because the grandmother, Margreete, who suffers from dementia, burns down the kitchen and is unable to live alone safely. She refuses to leave her home and the rest of the family moves to Maine to be with her.

The structure of the novel is kaleidoscope, with six voices and six interconnected story lines. Because of this, I had a heck of a time coming up with a title that worked for all of those voices. I could have filled pages with titles I considered and rejected. Here are a few: Love, Even So. Keepers of This Place. Lifeboat. Rowing Toward the Light. Anthem for Six Voices. There were dozens more!

I owe the title, Margreete's Harbor, to my agent, who said, "Your book is like a five-pointed star, with Margreete at the center. Why not Margreete's Harbor?" So that was it.

Titles are the first words that a reader reads. Because of that, they feel really important. I wanted these first words to pull a reader into the book with a concrete image. In this case, I hope the word "harbor" does this through an image of water, boats, and...[read on]
Visit Eleanor Morse's website.

The Page 69 Test: Margreete’s Harbor.

Q&A with Eleanor Morse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that feature lost, missing, and forgotten gods

Laini Taylor is the New York Times bestselling author of the Printz Honor Book Strange the Dreamer and its sequel, Muse of Nightmares. Taylor is also the author of the global sensation the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy and the companion novella Night of Cake & Puppets. Taylor's other works include the Dreamdark books: Blackbringer and Silksinger, and the National Book Award finalist Lips Touch: Three Times. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter, Clementine.

At Taylor tagged five recent favorite books that feature lost, missing, and forgotten gods, including:
The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

Garth Nix has been a favorite author of mine since I rediscovered books for teens as an adult, searching for my writing niche. His Sabriel series was formative for me. This one’s very different, set in 1980s London, and is a huge amount of fun. Susan Arkshaw has but barely moved to the city for art school when, trying to find out about the father she never knew, she falls afoul of the country’s unruly supernatural element. Rescued by Merlin, a gorgeous young man who’s as apt to dress in women’s clothes as men’s, she gets a crash course in the Old World, and in the booksellers who run interference between it and the modern one. (Why booksellers? Well, because they have to make a living, don’t they?) Merlin is one of the left-handed booksellers, his sister Vivien one of the right. Their skill sets are different but their mission is the same: keep the Old World denizens from causing trouble. But with Susan around, that proves impossible, so they set out to learn who’s after her and why. And yes, it involves a lost god or two.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Pg. 99: Kate Mulry's "An Empire Transformed"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: An Empire Transformed: Remolding Bodies and Landscapes in the Restoration Atlantic by Kate Luce Mulry.

About the book, from the publisher:
Examines the efforts to bring political order to the English empire through projects of environmental improvement

When Charles II ascended the English throne in 1660 after two decades of civil war, he was confronted with domestic disarray and a sprawling empire in chaos. His government sought to assert control and affirm the King’s sovereignty by touting his stewardship of both England’s land and the improvement of his subjects’ health. By initiating ambitious projects of environmental engineering, including fen and marshland drainage, forest rehabilitation, urban reconstruction, and garden transplantation schemes, agents of the English Restoration government aimed to transform both places and people in service of establishing order. Merchants, colonial officials, and members of the Royal Society encouraged royal intervention in places deemed unhealthy, unproductive, or poorly managed. Their multiple schemes reflected an enduring belief in the complex relationships between the health of individual bodies, personal and communal character, and the landscapes they inhabited.

In this deeply researched work, Kate Mulry highlights a period of innovation during which officials reassessed the purpose of colonies, weighed their benefits and drawbacks, and engineered and instituted a range of activities in relation to subjects’ bodies and material environments. These wide-ranging actions offer insights about how restoration officials envisioned authority within a changing English empire.

An Empire Transformed is an interdisciplinary work addressing a series of interlocking issues concerning ideas about the environment, governance, and public health in the early modern English Atlantic empire.
Visit Kate Mulry's website.

The Page 99 Test: An Empire Transformed.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Rebecca Hardiman's "Good Eggs"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Good Eggs: A Novel by Rebecca Hardiman.

About the book, from the publisher:
A hilarious and heartfelt debut novel following three generations of a boisterous family whose simmering tensions boil over when a home aide enters the picture, becoming the calamitous force that will either undo or remake this family—perfect for fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Evvie Drake Starts Over.

When Kevin Gogarty’s irrepressible eighty-three-year-old mother, Millie, is caught shoplifting yet again, he has no choice but to hire a caretaker to keep an eye on her. Kevin, recently unemployed, is already at his wits’ end tending to a full house while his wife travels to exotic locales for work, leaving him solo with his sulky, misbehaved teenaged daughter, Aideen, whose troubles escalate when she befriends the campus rebel at her new boarding school.

Into the Gogarty fray steps Sylvia, Millie’s upbeat home aide, who appears at first to be their saving grace—until she catapults the Gogarty clan into their greatest crisis yet.

With charm, humor, and pathos to spare, Good Eggs is a delightful study in self-determination; the notion that it’s never too late to start living; and the unique redemption that family, despite its maddening flaws, can offer.
Visit Rebecca Hardiman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Good Eggs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books that make the Earth come alive

Katie Yee is a Brooklyn-based writer and the Book Marks associate editor at Lit Hub.

At Lit Hub she tagged ten books in which the natural world becomes a character. One title on the list:
Madeleine Watts, The Inland Sea

Elsewhere, a man drowned when he was swept away by floodwaters in the Oxley Creek. The Oxley Creek, named in honor of my ancestor, who stoked the fever of belief in like-minded men, the belief that out there in the continent there was water, and that the water would save us all.

This is a novel forged in two elements: fire and water. The oppressive heat is the first thing the narrator notes as she sits in her apartment in Sydney. It’s palpable. Its presence casts a haze across the story. And it’s fitting for the life of a woman who works at an emergency call dispatch center, whose job it is to be dropped into emergencies. Like the heat, the job is jarring at first, but then there comes a moment when it sort of settles into everything; it permeates her life. Madeleine Watts creates a wonderful break in this haze whenever she writes about the water. Our narrator is drawn to it. Her great-great-great-great-grandfather was, after all, a British explorer who ventured into the Australian wilderness in search of water, the eponymous Inland Sea. (He never found it.) But the relief and clarity the presence of water brings is felt in the writing.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 23, 2021

Pg. 99: Audrey Clare Farley's "The Unfit Heiress"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Unfit Heiress: The Tragic Life and Scandalous Sterilization of Ann Cooper Hewitt by Audrey Clare Farley.

About the book, from the publisher:
For readers of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and The Phantom of Fifth Avenue, a page-turning drama of fortunes, eugenics and women's reproductive rights framed by the sordid court battle between Ann Cooper Hewitt and her socialite mother.

At the turn of the twentieth century, American women began to reject Victorian propriety in favor of passion and livelihood outside the home. This alarmed authorities, who feared certain "over-sexed" women could destroy civilization if allowed to reproduce and pass on their defects. Set against this backdrop, The Unfit Heiress chronicles the fight for inheritance, both genetic and monetary, between Ann Cooper Hewitt and her mother Maryon.

In 1934, aided by a California eugenics law, the socialite Maryon Cooper Hewitt had her "promiscuous" daughter declared feebleminded and sterilized without her knowledge. She did this to deprive Ann of millions of dollars from her father's estate, which contained a child-bearing stipulation. When a sensational court case ensued, the American public was captivated. So were eugenicists, who saw an opportunity to restrict reproductive rights in America for decades to come.

This riveting story unfolds through the brilliant research of Audrey Clare Farley, who captures the interior lives of these women on the pages and poses questions that remain relevant today: What does it mean to be "unfit" for motherhood? In the battle for reproductive rights, can we forgive the women who side against us? And can we forgive our mothers if they are the ones who inflict the deepest wounds?
Visit Audrey Clare Farley's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Unfit Heiress.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Maria Kuznetsova

From my Q&A with Maria Kuznetsova, author of Something Unbelievable: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title does a lot to take the reader into the thematic ideas in my novel – that, while there is a certain order to a generational family saga that spans centuries and continents, at the end of the day, the result can be called "something unbelievable."

What's in a name?

Names – and nicknames - are so important in Russian-speaking culture. In my book, last names are important, too – Larissa sheds her family name to take the name of her husband, who comes from an illustrious family. Natasha, an actress whose first name becomes a running joke because...[read on]
Visit Maria Kuznetsova's website.

Q&A with Maria Kuznetsova.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten essential noir novels

Born and raised in Reno, Nevada, Willy Vlautin is the author of six novels and is the founder of the bands Richmond Fontaine and The Delines. Vlautin started writing stories and songs at the age of eleven after receiving his first guitar. Inspired by songwriters and novelists Paul Kelly, Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, William Kennedy, Raymond Carver, and John Steinbeck, Vlautin works diligently to tell working class stories in his novels and songs.

Vlautin has been the recipient of three Oregon Book Awards, The Nevada Silver Pen Award, and was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame and the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. He was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and was shortlisted for the Impac Award (International Dublin Literary Award). Two of his novels, The Motel Life and Lean on Pete, have been adapted as films. His novels have been translated into eleven languages. Vlautin teaches at Pacific University’s MFA in Writing program.

He lives near Portland, Oregon with his wife, dog, cats, and horses.

At Publishers Weekly Vlautin tagged ten of his favorite noir novels, including:
Die a Little by Megan Abbott

I can’t say enough great things about Megan Abbott. She has this ability to make you feel safe and protected while the world falls apart around you. Lora is close to her brother Bill, who works for the district attorney’s office. Bill falls in love and marries Alice, but Alice has a complicated past: drugs, prostitution, etc. Bill doesn’t know this but Lora suspects something is off and starts to investigate Alice. It turns out that Lora isn’t as clean as she seems and she slides into the darkness she’s trying to save her brother from. Abbott is a genius at pulling the floor out while you’re walking—you barely notice that you’re suddenly falling.
Read about another entry on the list.

Die a Little is among Jeff Somers's fifty must-read noir detective novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Pg. 69: Eleanor Morse's "Margreete’s Harbor"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Margreete’s Harbor: A Novel by Eleanor Morse.

About the book, from the publisher:
A literary novel set on the coast of Maine during the 1960s, tracing the life of a family and its matriarch as they negotiate sharing a home.

Eleanor Morse's Margreete’s Harbor begins with a fire: a fiercely-independent, thrice-widowed woman living on her own in a rambling house near the Maine coast forgets a hot pan on the stovetop, and nearly burns her place down.

When Margreete Bright calls her daughter Liddie to confess, Liddie realizes that her mother can no longer live alone. She, her husband Harry, and their children Eva and Bernie move from a settled life in Michigan across the country to Margreete’s isolated home, and begin a new life.

Margreete’s Harbor tells the story of ten years in the history of a family: a novel of small moments, intimate betrayals, arrivals and disappearances that coincide with America during the late 1950s through the turbulent 1960s. Liddie, a professional cellist, struggles to find space for her music in a marriage that increasingly confines her; Harry’s critical approach to the growing war in Vietnam endangers his new position as a high school history teacher; Bernie and Eva begin to find their own identities as young adults; and Margreete slowly descends into a private world of memories, even as she comes to find a larger purpose in them.

This beautiful novel—attuned to the seasons of nature, the internal dynamics of a family, and a nation torn by its contradicting ideals—reveals the largest meanings in the smallest and most secret moments of life. Readers of Elizabeth Strout, Alice Munro, and Anne Tyler will find themselves at home in Margreete’s Harbor.
Visit Eleanor Morse's website.

The Page 69 Test: Margreete’s Harbor.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Robin Waterfield's "The Making of a King"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Making of a King: Antigonus Gonatas of Macedon and the Greeks by Robin Waterfield.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the third century BCE, the ancient kingdom of Macedon held dominion over mainland Greece, but it was rapidly descending into chaos. After Alexander the Great’s death, several of his successors contended for the Macedonian throne, and amid the tumult the Celts launched a massive invasion, ravaging and plundering Macedon and northern Greece for years. The Celts finally met their defeat at the hands of Antigonus Gonatas, son of one of Alexander’s successors. An exceptional statesman and artful strategist, Antigonus protected Macedon and its Greek territories against aggressors coming from every direction. After almost fifty years of chaos brought on by Alexander’s death, Antigonus stabilized Macedon and Greece and laid the foundation for a long but troubled reign.

In this book, distinguished historian Robin Waterfield draws on his deep understanding of Greek history to bring us into the world of this complicated, splintered empire. He shows how, while Antigonus was confirming his Macedonian rule through constitutional changes, the Greeks were making moves toward independence. Two great confederacies of Greek cities emerged, forming powerful blocs that had the potential to resist the power of Macedon. The Making of a King charts Antigonus’s conflicts with the Greeks and with his perennial enemy, Ptolemy of Egypt. But Antigonus’s diplomatic and military successes were not enough to secure peace, and in his final years he saw his control of Greece whittled away by rebellion and the growing power of the Greek confederacies. Macedon’s lack of firm control over Greece ultimately made it possible for Rome to take its place as the arbiter of the Greeks’ future.

The Making of a King is Waterfield’s third volume about the Greeks in the era after Alexander the Great. Completing the story begun in his previous two books, Dividing the Spoils and Taken at the Flood, it brings Antigonus and his turbulent era to life. With The Making of a King—the first book in more than a century to tell in full the story of Antigonus Gonatas’s reign—this fascinating figure finally receives his due.
Visit Robin Waterfield's website.

The Page 99 Test: Taken at the Flood.

The Page 99 Test: The Making of a King.

--Marshal Zeringue

Renée Rosen's "The Social Graces," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Social Graces by Renée Rosen.

The entry begins:
The Social Graces tells the real-life story of two powerful women, Caroline Astor and Alva Vanderbilt, who go to war over who will control New York society during the Gilded Age. And why are they both obsessed with something as seemingly frivolous as being the head of society? Because back in the Nineteenth Century, that was all women had. Society was the only arena where they could hope to exercise any influence over her existence. So, the stakes were high, and the antics were outrageous. Trust me when I say, fact is stranger than fiction.

Caroline Astor, or The Mrs. Astor, as she preferred to be called, was the reigning queen of New York society for three decades. She was both haughty and funny. I think Kathy Bates would capture her perfectly.

Her rival was Alva Vanderbilt. She was younger, far less conventional and a real firecracker. I think...[read on]
Visit Renée Rosen's website, blog, and Facebook page.

The Page 99 Test: Every Crooked Pot.

My Book, The Movie: Dollface.

The Page 69 Test: Dollface.

The Page 69 Test: What the Lady Wants.

My Book, The Movie: What the Lady Wants.

Writers Read: Renée Rosen (February 2017).

My Book, The Movie: Windy City Blues.

The Page 69 Test: Windy City Blues.

The Page 69 Test: The Social Graces.

My Book, The Movie: The Social Graces.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about brothers

Fíona Scarlett is from Dublin but now living in Co. Kildare with her husband and two children. She holds an MLitt in creative writing from the University of Glasgow as well as a masters in early childhood education. She was awarded the Denis O’Driscoll Literary Bursary through Kildare County Council in 2019 and a Literature Bursary through the National Arts Council Ireland in 2020. She works full time as a primary school teacher and Boys Don’t Cry is her debut novel.

At the Guardian Scarlett tagged ten books that "reveal some general truths about brothers, for better and for worse." One title on the list:
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

This book is one of my all-time favourites, and though it does not feature brothers in the traditional sense, Elwood and Turner are most definitely brothers in all but name, a relationship rooted in love and everlasting friendship. Both boys meet in the Trevor Nickel Academy, a juvenile reform school in Florida during the early 1960s. The injustice, the cruelty, the unspeakable horrors that the boys witness daily is told without sentimentality, it’s just laid bare, and is all the more powerful for it. The fact that this book is based on the story of a real reform school made it all the more harrowing. A profoundly unsettling but necessary read.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Q&A with Nev March

From my Q&A with Nev March, author of Murder in Old Bombay:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

My novel Murder in Old Bombay is based on a real tragedy. It was first titled The Rajabai Tower Mystery when it won MWA’s award and chosen for publication. However, my publisher and I discussed that “Raja-bai” is unfamiliar, even alien to people in the States and could put off readers. (Search Rajabai Tower Tragedy to find articles about the original events.) “Old Bombay” gives an impression of the Colonial era, so that works well for a historical mystery set during the British Raj.

What's in a name?

My protagonist Captain Jim Agnihotri’s very name is his burden, and central to the plot. It reflects his...[read on]
Visit Nev March's website.

Q&A with Nev March.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jeremy Brown's "June Fourth"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: June Fourth: The Tiananmen Protests and Beijing Massacre of 1989 by Jeremy Brown.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Tiananmen protests and Beijing massacre of 1989 were a major turning point in recent Chinese history. In this new analysis of 1989, Jeremy Brown tells the vivid stories of participants and victims, exploring the nationwide scope of the democracy movement and the brutal crackdown that crushed it. At each critical juncture in the spring of 1989, demonstrators and decision makers agonized over difficult choices and saw how events could have unfolded differently. The alternative paths that participants imagined confirm that bloodshed was neither inevitable nor necessary. Using a wide range of previously untapped sources and examining how ordinary citizens throughout China experienced the crackdown after the massacre, this ambitious social history sheds fresh light on events that continue to reverberate in China to this day.
Visit Jeremy Brown's website.

The Page 99 Test: City Versus Countryside in Mao's China.

The Page 99 Test: June Fourth.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Renée Rosen's "The Social Graces"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Social Graces by Renée Rosen.

About the book, from the publisher:
The author of Park Avenue Summer throws back the curtain on one of the most remarkable feuds in history: Alva Vanderbilt and the Mrs. Astor’s notorious battle for control of New York society during the Gilded Age.

1876. In the glittering world of Manhattan’s upper crust, women are valued by their pedigree, dowry, and, most importantly, connections. They have few rights and even less independence—what they do have is society. The more celebrated the hostess, the more powerful the woman. And none is more powerful than Caroline Astor—the Mrs. Astor.

But times are changing.

Alva Vanderbilt has recently married into one of America’s richest families. But what good is dizzying wealth when society refuses to acknowledge you? Alva, who knows what it is to have nothing, will do whatever it takes to have everything.

Sweeping three decades and based on true events, this is the mesmerizing story of two fascinating, complicated women going head to head, behaving badly, and discovering what’s truly at stake.
Visit Renée Rosen's website, blog, and Facebook page.

The Page 99 Test: Every Crooked Pot.

My Book, The Movie: Dollface.

The Page 69 Test: Dollface.

The Page 69 Test: What the Lady Wants.

My Book, The Movie: What the Lady Wants.

Writers Read: Renée Rosen (February 2017).

My Book, The Movie: Windy City Blues.

The Page 69 Test: Windy City Blues.

The Page 69 Test: The Social Graces.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven suspenseful novels that examine immigrant identity

Zhanna Slor was born in the former Soviet Union and moved to the Midwest in the early 1990s. She has been published in many literary magazines, including Ninth Letter, Another Chicago Magazine, and Michigan Quarterly Review, and she is a frequent contributor to The Forward. She and her husband, saxophonist for Jazz-Rock fusion band Marbin, recently relocated to Milwaukee, where they live with their young daughter.

Slor's new novel is At the End of the World, Turn Left.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven suspenseful titles that examine immigrant identity, including:
The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai

Full disclosure, I know Rebecca Makkai—but we were still strangers when I first fell in love with her debut novel, The Borrower, about a young librarian named Lucy who “kidnaps” her favorite young patron after he runs away from his overbearing mother, who intends to send him to conversion therapy. This spawns an epic and entertaining road-trip across the Midwest, which is another plus, as I love to read books set in unusual places—i.e. not New York. Along the way, Lucy must use the connections of her shady Russian father to escape persecution; the conversations between Lucy and her immigrant father are some of my favorite parts of the book, and add a good amount of levity to the writing (Rebecca’s father was Hungarian, so I imagine she knows all about the intricacies of this type of relationship). A great read for fans of immigrant literature, as well as road-trip literature, or quirky atypical protagonists. One of my favorite, most-relatable lines, was this: “For one thing, he’d bought it from a man named Uncle Nicolai, who was not my actual uncle and who had no discernible job other than doing favors for other Russians.” Yes! So many “uncles.”
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Borrower.

--Marshal Zeringue