Thursday, July 07, 2022

Top ten funny comic books

Luke Healy is a cartoonist, comedian and TV writer from Dublin, Ireland.

His newest book is The Con Artist.

At the Guardian Healy tagged ten "books [that] cross all sorts of genres and styles, from memoirs about dark subjects to essay collections about modern dating, to reviews of Steven Spielberg’s 2012 film Warhorse. But the one thing they all have in common is a funny person at their core." One title on the list:
Everything Is Flammable by Gabrielle Bell

One of comics’ best diarists, Bell catalogues the year following a fire that destroyed her mother’s home in rural California. Bell, who lives in New York, makes several trips across the country to help her mother rebuild, while reflecting on her childhood, and their relationship across time. Bell’s inability to connect with other people is the main source of humour here, and the book often juxtaposes her with other misfits as she tries to do her best while battling with anxiety and an absurd world.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Leslie Hooton's "After Everyone Else," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: After Everyone Else by Leslie Hooton.

The entry begins:
Thumbnail take on After Everyone Else: "Family Dynamic with a murder mystery mashup."

Bailey Edgeworth, a famed restaurant designer, is arrested for the murder of her ex-husband. If the murder accusation isn't enough she is trying to balance her husband, her "junior terriorist teenager" and her skyrocketing career.

I don't have particular actors in mind when I am writing however once the book is submitted my imagination runs free. Every time I watch a movie or TV show I think "Oh, he would be a good Griffin." or " She would be a good Bailey." In After Everyone Else, for Bailey I see Daisy Edgar Jones because there is something mysterious about both women, and I always pictured Bailey as a brunette. They are both strong, determined and I love their sense of style.

Griffin always struck me as lanky and scruffy. I see...[read on]
Visit Leslie Hooton's website.

The Page 69 Test: After Everyone Else.

My Book, The Movie: After Everyone Else.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven unconventional women at the center of great novels

Louise Hare is a London-based author. Her debut novel, This Lovely City, was published in the UK to wide acclaim, and was a Between the Covers Book Club Pick on BBC Two. She has an MA in creative writing from the University of London.

Hare's new novel is Miss Aldridge Regrets.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven unconventional women at the heart of great novels, including:
Indemnity Only, by Sara Paretsky

My introduction to the unconventional woman was through Indemnity Only, Sara Paretsky’s first V.I. Warshawski novel. A missing person’s case turns into a murder investigation, but it’s V.I. herself who kept me turning the pages when I first picked this up. The divorced daughter of a Chicago cop and an Italian opera singer, V.I. is so fiercely independent and I’d never come across anyone like her before, either in real life or in fiction.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Darra Goldstein's "The Kingdom of Rye"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Kingdom of Rye: A Brief History of Russian Food by Darra Goldstein.

About the book, from the publisher:
Celebrated food scholar Darra Goldstein takes readers on a vivid tour of history and culture through Russian cuisine.

The Kingdom of Rye unearths the foods and flavors of the Russian land. Preeminent food studies scholar Darra Goldstein offers readers a concise, engaging, and gorgeously crafted story of Russian cuisine and culture. This story demonstrates how national identity is revealed through food—and how people know who they are by what they eat together. The Kingdom of Rye examines the Russians' ingenuity in overcoming hunger, a difficult climate, and a history of political hardship while deciphering Russia's social structures from within. This is a domestic history of Russian food that serves up a deeper history, demonstrating that the wooden spoon is mightier than the scepter.
Visit Darra Goldstein's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Kingdom of Rye.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Tessa Arlen's "A Dress of Violet Taffeta"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Dress of Violet Taffeta by Tessa Arlen.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sumptuous novel based on the fascinating true story of La Belle Époque icon Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon, who shattered the boundaries of fashion with her magnificently sensual and enchantingly unique designs.

Lucy Duff Gordon knows she is talented. She sees color, light, and texture in ways few people can begin to imagine. But is the male dominated world of haute couture, who would use her art for their own gain, ready for her?

When she is deserted by her wealthy husband, Lucy is left penniless with an aging mother and her five-year-old daughter to support. Desperate to survive, Lucy turns to her one true talent to make a living. As a little girl, the dresses she made for her dolls were the envy of her group of playmates. Now, she uses her creative designs and her remarkable eye for color to take her place in the fashion world—failure is not an option.

Then, on a frigid night in 1912, Lucy’s life changes once more, when she becomes one of 706 people to survive the sinking of the Titanic. She could never have imagined the effects the disaster would have on her fashion label Lucile, her marriage to her second husband, and her legacy. But no matter what life throws at her, Lucy will live on as a trailblazing and innovative fashion icon, never letting go of what she worked so hard to earn. This is her story.
Visit Tessa Arlen's website.

See Tessa Arlen’s top five historical novels.

Coffee with a Canine: Tessa Arlen & Daphne.

The Page 69 Test: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman.

My Book, The Movie: Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman.

The Page 69 Test: Death Sits Down to Dinner.

My Book, The Movie: Death Sits Down to Dinner.

The Page 69 Test: A Death by Any Other Name.

The Page 69 Test: Death of an Unsung Hero.

Writers Read: Tessa Arlen (November 2019).

The Page 69 Test: Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders.

Q&A with Tessa Arlen (April 2020).

The Page 69 Test: Poppy Redfern and the Fatal Flyers.

Q&A with Tessa Arlen (December 2020).

The Page 69 Test: In Royal Service to the Queen.

The Page 69 Test: A Dress of Violet Taffeta.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Q&A with Shashi Bhat

From my Q&A with Shashi Bhat, author of The Most Precious Substance on Earth:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The Most Precious Substance on Earth refers to a moment in the book when the main character's high school band conductor tells them that platinum is the most precious substance on earth. (Their band is called the Platinum Band.) It turns out this statement is false—the most precious substance is either diamonds, rhino horns, or meth. So it’s a bit of a bait-and-switch, which is a pattern that occurs throughout the book. Symbolically, what I had in mind was that the most precious substance is whatever is lost when a girl comes of age—a mix of innocence and hope and confidence and the beliefs that we hold in girlhood.

Very early on, my agent suggested changing the title to Mute, which is one of the chapter titles and is a clear nod to one of the book’s key themes: the ways in which women are conditioned to be silent. My main character, Nina, is a person who often wants to speak and has something to say but just can’t make herself say it. I was attached to my original (and current) title though. I liked the obliqueness of it, and I’m a bit of a sucker for...[read on]
Visit Shashi Bhat's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Most Precious Substance on Earth.

Q&A with Shashi Bhat.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Paul Miller-Melamed's "Misfire"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Misfire: The Sarajevo Assassination and the Winding Road to World War I by Paul Miller-Melamed.

About the book, from the publisher:
A new interpretation of the Sarajevo assassination and the origins of World War I that places focus on the Balkans and the prewar period.

The story has so often been told: Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Habsburg Empire, was shot dead on June 28, 1914, in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Thirty days later, the Archduke's uncle, Emperor Franz Joseph, declared war on the Kingdom of Serbia, producing the chain reaction of European powers entering the First World War.

In Misfire, Paul Miller-Melamed narrates the history of the Sarajevo assassination and the origins of World War I from the perspective of the Balkans. Rather than focusing on the bang of assassin Gavrilo Princip's gun or reinforcing the mythology that has arisen around this act, Miller-Melamed embeds the incident in the longer-term conditions of the Balkans that gave rise to the political murder. He thus illuminates the centrality of the Bosnian Crisis and the Balkan Wars of the early twentieth century to European power politics, while explaining how Serbs, Bosnians, and Habsburg leaders negotiated their positions in an increasingly dangerous geopolitical environment. Despite the absence of evidence tying official Serbia to the assassination conspiracy, Miller-Melamed shows how it spiraled into a diplomatic crisis that European statesmen proved unable to resolve peacefully.

Contrasting the vast disproportionality between a single deadly act and an act of war that would leave ten million dead, Misfire contends that the real causes for the world war lie in "civilized" Europe rather than the endlessly discussed political murder.
Learn more about Misfire at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Misfire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books for the grieving

Sally Oliver earned a master’s in English at Lancaster University before moving to London to start a career in publishing. She now works for the agency Greene & Heaton. Garden of Earthly Bodies (UK title: The Weight of Loss) is her debut novel.

At Lit Hub Oliver tagged five books that "touch upon grief and mourning in ways that really affected me," including:
John Williams, Stoner

John Williams’ Stoner is a beautifully written book about lost opportunities. I don’t think I have ever cared so much for a character who has achieved so little that he wanted in his life, and who, in his final decline towards the end, still feels that he never became the person he was meant to be. Williams makes us mourn for Stoner as he looks back on his disastrous marriage, his ill-fated love affair, and his middling academic career. On his deathbed, his wife forms a new understanding of their relationship, and he also considers how easily things might have been different if they had started their marriage with the thoughts they had now: “It was a quietness that was like the beginning of love; and almost without thinking, Stoner knew why it had come. They had forgiven themselves for the harm they had done each other, and they were rapt in a regard of what their life together might have been.”

Instead of mourning what they had, they mourn what they might have had, but this couldn’t have been possible. The generous feelings they now have towards one another are forged through difficult experiences—years of animosity, so many errors of judgement—and they’re also, to a large extent, intensified by grief. It’s impossible to start over and explore this avenue again. This is perhaps the most tragic aspect of the book, that so much passion has been squandered or misplaced. I also felt like I was mourning for this character so much because Williams gave us such a special insight into who he really was, all the hidden nuances of his character, the latent passions and ambitions that were never fully realized.
Read about another book on the list.

Stoner is among Kate Weinberg's five top university-based novels, Andrew Hunter Murray's top five books to make you feel less alone, Thomas Maloney's ten best deaths in fiction, 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

Monday, July 04, 2022

Pg. 69: Leslie Hooton's "After Everyone Else"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: After Everyone Else by Leslie Hooton.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the acclaimed author of Before Anyone Else comes a captivating new novel about the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love.

Bailey thought she’d gotten her happy ending. She is married to the man she loves, she has started a family, and her design business is flourishing. But when Bailey’s ex-husband, a famous TV chef, is found murdered with her DNA all over his apartment and body, she is suddenly facing murder charges in a high-profile case. Already burdened by the demands and challenges of marriage, motherhood, and her career, Bailey now must do everything she can to prove her innocence. But it’s the ones she thought would surely be on her side—her enigmatic lawyer and her husband—who might be doubting her innocence the most.

Alternating between the past and present, After Everyone Else chronicles the grip of the past, the challenges of forgiveness, and the resilient love we save for the person we love after everyone else.
Visit Leslie Hooton's website.

The Page 69 Test: After Everyone Else.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of The Last Queen: A Novel of Courage and Resistance.

Her entry begins:
Lonesome Flight by Dipak Gupta

This first novel depicts a powerful and tragic story known to too few. It is the story of the Naxalite terrorist movement in India in the 1960s that seduced and claimed many promising young lives. Set in Calcutta, the city I grew up in, Gupta’s novel resonated with me because of its authentic details and the writer’s keen eye. It is also a moving love story, and an adventure rife with secrets and betrayals, violence and redemption. I loved the way the novel surprised me as it moved from the bustle of the city to the lives of tribals in remote forests of Bengal.

Reading, I felt that this insightful fictional depiction of how bright young minds are recruited into becoming terrorists is particularly timely because of the distressing growth of terrorist cells worldwide today, as well as the resurgence of...[read on]
About The Last Queen, from the publisher:
She rose from commoner to become the last reigning queen of India’s Sikh Empire. In this dazzling novel, based on true-life events, bestselling author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni presents the unforgettable story of Jindan, who transformed herself from daughter of the royal kennel keeper to powerful monarch.

Sharp-eyed, stubborn, and passionate, Jindan was known for her beauty. When she caught the eye of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, she was elevated to royalty, becoming his youngest and last queen—and his favorite. And when her son, barely six years old, unexpectedly inherited the throne, Jindan assumed the regency. She transformed herself from pampered wife to warrior ruler, determined to protect her people and her son’s birthright from the encroaching British Empire.

Defying tradition, she stepped out of the zenana, cast aside the veil, and conducted state business in public, inspiring her subjects in two wars. Her power and influence were so formidable that the British, fearing an uprising, robbed the rebel queen of everything she had, but nothing crushed her indomitable will.

An exquisite love story of a king and a commoner, a cautionary tale about loyalty and betrayal, a powerful parable of the indestructible bond between mother and child, and an inspiration for our times, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s novel brings alive one of the most fearless women of the nineteenth century, one whose story cries out to be told.
Learn more about the book and author at Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's website.

The Page 69 Test: Oleander Girl.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Queen.

Writers Read: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five fiction books about witches, magic & romance

At B&N Reads Elani Wilson tagged five top books about witches, magic, and paranormal romance, including:
The League of Gentlewomen Witches
India Holton

Grab your tea and get those pinkies up. With a pinch of magic, the best-behaved witches in all of England are here to show us the proper way to make the world a better place, unlike those thieves from the Wisteria Society. Enter the League of Gentlewomen Witches. All’s fair in love and thievery and there may be more stolen than just the amulet of Black Beryl in the second book of the Dangerous Damsels series.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Q&A with David Santos Donaldson

From my Q&A with David Santos Donaldson, author of Greenland: A Novel:
photo credit: Billy Bustamante

About the book, from the publisher:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title Greenland is purposefully somewhat mysterious—it doesn’t tell you what the book is about in any obvious way. You’d never expect it’s a novel about a young queer Black writer holed up in his basement writing a novel about E.M. Forster’s secret real-life love affair with the Black Egyptian tram conductor, Mohammed el Adl. But as you read on, the title slowly begins to make sense. Eventually the narrator/protagonist, Kip Starling, ends up in Greenland itself, where he hopes to find his true voice in the icy wilderness. For me, the title Greenland has a couple of symbolic references. In the visual sense, Greenland is a land of whiteness—more than 90% of the county is covered with snow and ice; and my narrator is grappling with finding himself amidst a world of Whiteness. He is also socially, politically and artistically finding his own voice on the blank page—which appears to be a neutral thing, but that is only because whiteness is assumed to be neutral. I’m also making a literary reference (almost an inside joke, really), nodding to the work of Graham Greene. Literary scholars have nicknamed his oeuvre “Greeneland.” Greene’s work deals with British colonialism and its spiritual and moral consequences. These are...[read on]
Visit David Santos Donaldson's website.

Q&A with David Santos Donaldson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Peter M. Shane's "Democracy’s Chief Executive"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Democracy’s Chief Executive: Interpreting the Constitution and Defining the Future of the Presidency by Peter M. Shane.

About the book, from the publisher:
Legal scholar Peter M. Shane confronts U.S. presidential entitlement and offers a more reasonable way of conceptualizing our constitutional presidency in the twenty-first century.

In the eyes of modern-day presidentialists, the United States Constitution’s vesting of “executive power” means today what it meant in 1787. For them, what it meant in 1787 was the creation of a largely unilateral presidency, and in their view, a unilateral presidency still best serves our national interest. Democracy’s Chief Executive challenges each of these premises, while showing how their influence on constitutional interpretation for more than forty years has set the stage for a presidency ripe for authoritarianism.

Democracy’s Chief Executive explains how dogmatic ideas about expansive executive authority can create within the government a psychology of presidential entitlement that threatens American democracy and the rule of law. Tracing today’s aggressive presidentialism to a steady consolidation of White House power aided primarily by right-wing lawyers and judges since 1981, Peter M. Shane argues that this is a dangerously authoritarian form of constitutional interpretation that is not even well supported by an originalist perspective. Offering instead a fresh approach to balancing presidential powers, Shane develops an interpretative model of adaptive constitutionalism, rooted in the values of deliberative democracy. Democracy’s Chief Executive demonstrates that justifying outcomes explicitly based on core democratic values is more, not less, constraining for judicial decision making—and presents a model that Americans across the political spectrum should embrace.
Follow Peter M. Shane on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Democracy’s Chief Executive.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven memorable bartenders in literature

Wesley Straton is a writer and bartender based in Brooklyn. She writes fiction about found families, alienation, and how where we live shapes who we are. She studied fiction at Brooklyn College, where she received the Himan Brown Creative Writing Award and served as an editor for the Brooklyn Review. Her fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train and has been shortlisted for the Disquiet Literary Prize, and she has written about international bar culture for Roads & Kingdoms, GQ, and Difford’s Guide. The Bartender’s Cure is her debut novel.

At Electric Lit Straton tagged seven "compelling, magnetic bar personalities" in literature, including:
The Night Shift by Natalka Burian

The protagonist of Natalka Burian’s upcoming novel is a sort of classic accidental bartender. After leaving her more traditional job working for a successful psychotherapist, Jean Smith takes a job at Red and Gold, a divey bar in early-aughts Manhattan where the nights consist of drunk hipsters and hundreds (maybe thousands) of vodka-sodas. Jean is a newbie, and we see her struggle behind the bar as all newbies do, but she’s hardworking and stubborn, which I respect. And at any rate, The Night Shift isn’t really about the bar—it’s about the nighttime world that bar work introduces Jean to, with its colorful characters and mysterious shortcuts: strange passageways through space and time that are much more sinister than they seem. Jean is a classic reluctant hero type, and Burian weaves together her painful past and troubled coming-of-age with a riveting, high-stakes mystery.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Pg. 69: Shashi Bhat's "The Most Precious Substance on Earth"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Most Precious Substance on Earth by Shashi Bhat.

About the book, from the publisher:
Journey Prize winner Shashi Bhat’s sharp, darkly comic, and poignant story about a high school student's traumatic experience and how it irrevocably alters her life, for fans of 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, Girlhood, and Pen15.

Bright, hilarious, and sensitive fourteen-year-old Nina spends her spare time reading Beowulf and flirting with an internet predator. She has a vicious crush on her English teacher, and her best friend Amy is slowly drifting away. Meanwhile, Nina’s mother tries to match her up with local Indian boys unfamiliar with her Saved by the Bell references, and Nina’s worried father has started reciting Hindu prayers outside her bedroom door. Beginning with a disturbing incident at her high school, THE MOST PRECIOUS SUBSTANCE ON EARTH tells stories of Nina’s life from the ‘90s to present day, when she returns to the classroom as a high school teacher with a haunting secret and discovers that the past is never far behind her.

Darkly funny, deeply affecting, unsettling, and at times even shocking, Shashi Bhat’s irresistible novel-in-stories examines the relationships between those who take and those who have something taken. THE MOST PRECIOUS SUBSTANCE ON EARTH is a sharp-edged and devastating look at how women are conditioned to hide their trauma and suppress their fear, loneliness, and anger, and an unforgettable portrait of how silence can shape a life.
Visit Shashi Bhat's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Most Precious Substance on Earth.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books narrated by a character on the outside looking in

Paddy Crewe was born in Stockton-on-Tees in 1991. He studied at Goldsmiths, University of London.

My Name Is Yip is his first novel.

At Lit Hub Crewe tagged "five books narrated by a character who is always on the outside looking in," including:
Rawi Hage, De Niro’s Game

Sometimes a narrative voice doesn’t need any linguistic tricks or narrative quirks to bring it to life, but relies on the environment the story unspools in. In war-torn Lebanon, “Ten thousand bombs had landed, and I was waiting for George,” says Bassam, Hage’s narrator.
Bassam is in a constant dialogue with his city and the threat it’s under. Even when it’s not being addressed directly, the proximity of violence is ever-present, and it can’t help but color the reader’s understanding of Bassam. He is, at times, made to seem no more than a speck, a single victim among a multitude of other lives; and then there are times when he becomes bigger than the war itself: his voice, his thoughts, his relationship to his friend George supplanting the greater danger, and creating a world in which he’s never one, singular entity, but many versions all in contest to be seen and heard.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kim Moloney's "Who Matters at the World Bank?"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Who Matters at the World Bank?: Bureaucrats, Policy Change, and Public Sector Governance by Kim Moloney.

About the book, from the publisher:
Who Matters at the World Bank explores "who matters" in a 32-year history (1980-2012) of policy change within the World Bank's public sector management and public sector governance agenda, and is anchored within the public administration discipline and its understanding of bureaucracy, bureaucratic politics, and stakeholder influences. In response to constructivist scholars' concerns about politics and the organizational culture of international civil servants within international organizations, Kim Moloney uses stakeholder theory and a bureaucratic politics approach to suggest the normality of politics, policy debate, and policy evolution. The book also highlights how for 21 of those 32 years it was not external stakeholders but the international civil servants of the World Bank who most influenced, led, developed, and institutionalized this sector's agenda. In so doing, the book explains how one sector of the Bank's work rose, against the odds, from being included in just under 3% of approved projects in 1980 to 73% of all projects approved between 1991 and 2012.
Follow Kim Moloney on Twitter.

Learn more about Who Matters at the World Bank? at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Who Matters at the World Bank?.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 01, 2022

Fifteen top WWII historical fiction books

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged fifteen top "books that take place during or around World War II," including:
The Physicists' Daughter: A Novel
Mary Anna Evans

For a WWII novel that takes place on American soil, you won’t want to miss The Physicists’ Daughter. A dash of mystery, a splash of science/a young scientist, and vibrant writing throughout, this story about a whip smart heroine will capture your heart! Justine works in a factory during the war and machines keep failing without any clear cause, making Justine suspect that there might be something more sinister than poor workmanship involved. This book full of potential espionage will have your heart pumping and keep you on your toes page after page.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Physicists' Daughter.

The Page 69 Test: The Physicists' Daughter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kate White's "The Second Husband"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Second Husband: A Novel by Kate White.

About the book, from the publisher:
A woman’s seemingly perfect second marriage is rocked by a discovery about the death of her first husband in this twisty psychological thriller from Kate White, the New York Times bestselling author whom Entertainment Weekly called “impossible to outwit.”

After losing her husband, Derrick, in what appears to have been a random street crime, thirtysomething Emma has built a new life with widower Tom, who is kind, handsome, driven, and successful. Emma is finally able to feel safe again, both in her relationship with Tom and in the home they've made together on the Connecticut shore.

Then one day a homicide detective shows up at Emma and Tom’s door asking questions. Though Emma had been cleared of her husband’s murder, it appears that law enforcement is taking another look at her and the case.

What do they know? Are they on the right track this time? And most importantly, will the renewed investigation ruin Emma’s chances of a happy life?

With twists and turns all the way to the last page, this fast-paced, expertly plotted novel will have you asking that age-old question: how well do you really know the ones you love?
Visit Kate White's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Even If It Kills Her.

The Page 69 Test: Eyes on You.

The Page 99 Test: The Gutsy Girl Handbook.

The Page 69 Test: Have You Seen Me?.

The Page 69 Test: The Second Husband.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Anna Hogeland

From my Q&A with Anna Hogeland, author of The Long Answer: A Novel:
photo credit: Shelby Kinney-Lang
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

My hope is that the title invites readers to wonder both, what is the long answer, and what is the question being asked? We rarely feel the space to really tell our stories in their entirety; as a therapist, I have a real honor of getting to hear the long answers, by which I mean the truer, more nuanced answers, to questions as simple as, how are you? When I began trying to conceive a child, I noticed that the stories of how people made families were greatly condensed, and I was desperate to know what those years were really like for people, so I might be better prepared for how they might be for me. This book is in part an attempt to provide those long answers both for myself and for...[read on]
Visit Anna Hogeland's website.

Q&A with Anna Hogeland.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Top ten stories of male friendship

Benjamin Markovits is an author and critic. He teaches creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.

His new novel is The Sidekick.

At the Guardian Markovits tagged ten "great stories about male friendship, with all its problems and consolations." One title on the list:
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

About the last days of the American West. The heroes are two Texas Rangers, Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call, and their friendship is at the heart of the story. What binds them is partly a shared competence, and partly a shared code. Though the two men are very different from each other, they trust and make use of those differences in a way that’s just as intimate as a conversation. When Gus dies, the world for Woodrow becomes a less interesting place to succeed in.
Read about another entry on the list.

Lonesome Dove may just be The Great Texas Novel. It is among Bud Smith's nine top road trip novels, Louis De Berniéres's six best books, and Ann Brashares' six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Tanya Stivers's "The Book of Answers"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Book of Answers: Alignment, Autonomy, and Affiliation in Social Interaction by Tanya Stivers.

About the book, from the publisher:
Imagine for a moment the only way to confirm a yes-no question was by saying Yeah. How different would this make our communication? Relying on a large corpus of naturally occurring recordings of spontaneous social interaction, this book explores all of the ways that we confirm questions in our everyday social lives.

Tanya Stivers analyzes what these different ways of responding allow us to do that is unique to each answer type. When do we answer with Yeah rather than He is, for instance; or when do we use more complicated forms of confirming? This information provides us with the basic response possibility space. From that point we can examine what the range of responses, in particular answers, tells us about what is important to us in managing social relationships through social interaction. The book explains that we can conceptualize the response possibility space as having three dimensions: alignment, autonomy, and affiliation. Speakers rely on the details of their response to position themselves at a particular point in that three-dimensional space, sometimes accepting trade-offs among the dimensions to achieve a stance that is higher in alignment and autonomy and lower in affiliation or higher in affiliation and autonomy but lower in alignment.

The Book of Answers uses real-life conversations to find hidden patterns in how we do things together such as reach decisions, tell stories, or arrive at agreement or disagreement. Delving into the science of how we talk, this book investigates what those patterns tell us about human communication and our social lives.
Learn more about The Book of Answers at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Book of Answers.

--Marshal Zeringue

John Vercher's "After the Lights Go Out," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: After the Lights Go Out by John Vercher.

The entry begins:
As a film and television fanatic, I tend to think cinematically when writing a book. For me that means envisioning the actors who I think could embody my main characters on the screen. This was especially true for the After the Lights Go Out. Who’s here I would love to see in the main roles.

Jesse Williams as Xavier “Scarecrow” Wallace – Williams would bring both the physicality and nuance to Xavier’s challenges of his deteriorating mind and body.

Brian Tyree Henry as Shemar “Shot” Tracy – I’m a huge fan of the show Atlanta and my love for it almost all centered on Henry’s portrayal of Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles. He is equal parts subtle and explosive, and I can’t picture anyone else playing Shot, the cousin Xavier loves and fears in...[read on]
Visit John Vercher's website.

Q&A with John Vercher.

My Book, The Movie: After the Lights Go Out.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Eight novels exploring the transgressions of young women

Alanna Schubach is a fiction writer, freelance journalist, and teacher. Her debut novel, The Nobodies, is now out from Blackstone.

She was named a NYC Emerging Writers Fellow with the Center for Fiction in 2019, and a Fellow in Fiction with the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2015. Her short stories have appeared in Shenandoah, the Sewanee Review, the Massachusetts Review, Electric Literature, and more, and she has attended residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and MacDowell. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.

Schubach teaches fiction and non-fiction for the Gotham Writers Workshop and privately mentors students in creative writing.

At CrimeReads Schubach tagged eight favorite "tales of young women overstepping boundaries, not only committing crimes in the traditional sense, but also transgressing against expectations in other ways, as well." One title on the list:
The Power, by Naomi Alderman

Who hasn’t heard the (dubious) claim that if women were in charge, the world would be a more peaceful place? This novel delivers a jolting refutation to that idea in its depiction of a world in which the power is suddenly awakened in nearly every girl to deliver fatal electric shocks through touch. Soon all the familiar scripts are flipped: it is boys, not girls, who must be wary of walking home alone at night; it is women who form rebel groups and violently overthrow governments; it is women who maraud, assault, and silence men. Through these reversals of fortune Alderman suggests that whoever holds the power will be twisted and rendered sadistic by it, whether male or female. A fascinating framing device hints at how far-ranging such upheaval could be.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jessamyn R. Abel's "Dream Super-Express"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Dream Super-Express: A Cultural History of the World's First Bullet Train by Jessamyn R. Abel.

About the book, from the publisher:
A symbol of the "new Japan" displayed at World's Fairs, depicted in travel posters, and celebrated as the product of a national spirit of innovation, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen—the first bullet train, dubbed the "dream super-express"—represents the bold aspirations of a nation rebranding itself after military defeat, but also the deep problems caused by the unbridled postwar drive for economic growth. At the dawn of the space age, how could a train become such an important symbol? In Dream Super-Express, Jessamyn Abel contends that understanding the various, often contradictory, images of the bullet train reveals how infrastructure operates beyond its intended use as a means of transportation to perform cultural and sociological functions. The multi-layered dreams surrounding this high-speed railway tell a history not only of nation-building but of resistance and disruption. Though it constituted neither a major technological leap nor a new infrastructural connection, the train enchanted, enthralled, and enraged government officials, media pundits, community activists, novelists, and filmmakers. This history of imaginations around the monumental rail system resists the commonplace story of progress to consider the tug-of-war over the significance of the new line. Is it a vision of the future or a reminder of the past, an object of international admiration or a formidable threat? Does it enable new relationships and identities or reify existing social hierarchies? Tracing the meanings assigned to high-speed rail shows how it prompted a reimagination of identity on the levels of individual, metropolis, and nation in a changing Japan.
Learn more about Dream Super-Express at the Stanford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Dream Super-Express.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Sarah Stewart Taylor's "The Drowning Sea"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Drowning Sea: A Maggie D'arcy Mystery by Sarah Stewart Taylor.

About the book, from the publisher:
In The Drowning Sea, Sarah Stewart Taylor returns to the critically acclaimed world of Maggie D’arcy with another atmospheric mystery so vivid readers will smell the salt in the air and hear the wind on the cliffs.

For the first time in her adult life, former Long Island homicide detective Maggie D’arcy is unemployed. No cases to focus on, no leads to investigate, just a whole summer on a remote West Cork peninsula with her teenage daughter Lilly and her boyfriend, Conor and his son. The plan is to prepare Lilly for a move to Ireland. But their calm vacation takes a dangerous turn when human remains wash up below the steep cliffs of Ross Head.

When construction worker Lukas Adamik disappeared months ago, everyone assumed he had gone home to Poland. Now that his body has been found, the guards, including Maggie's friends Roly Byrne and Katya Grzeskiewicz, seem to think he threw himself from the cliffs. But as Maggie gets to know the residents of the nearby village and learns about the history of the peninsula and its abandoned Anglo Irish manor house, once home to a famous Irish painter who died under mysterious circumstances, she starts to think there's something else going on. Something deadly. And when Lilly starts dating one of the dead man's friends, Maggie grows worried about her daughter being so close to another investigation and about what the investigation will uncover.

Old secrets, hidden relationships, crime, and village politics are woven throughout this small seaside community, and as the summer progresses, Maggie is pulled deeper into the web of lies, further from those she loves, and closer to the truth.
Visit Sarah Stewart Taylor's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Mountains Wild.

The Page 69 Test: A Distant Grave.

Q&A with Sarah Stewart Taylor.

The Page 69 Test: The Drowning Sea.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Q&A with John Vercher

From my Q&A with John Vercher: After the Lights Go Out:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Speaking only regarding my own personal preferences, I’d say titles matter for both active and potential readers (as well as writers). As a writer, I love the process of coming up with a title that engages a reader’s curiosity, especially a title that doesn’t quite have its meaning revealed by the back cover copy. It’s fun to imagine the feeling of discovery when they encounter a passage or line that reveals the title’s importance to the novel. It’s fun to imagine this because it’s enjoyable for me as a reader to experience as well. It can be tempting to make the title gimmicky, so to that end I strive to keep the title relevant to the overall themes of the book and perhaps doing the work of hinting at...[read on]
Visit John Vercher's website.

Q&A with John Vercher.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Rebecca Cypess's "Women and Musical Salons in the Enlightenment"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Women and Musical Salons in the Enlightenment by Rebecca Cypess.

About the book, from the publisher:
A study of musical salons in Europe and North America between 1760 and 1800 and the salon hostesses who shaped their musical worlds.

In eighteenth-century Europe and America, musical salons—and the women who hosted and made music in them—played a crucial role in shaping their cultural environments. Musical salons served as a testing ground for new styles, genres, and aesthetic ideals, and they acted as a mediating force, bringing together professional musicians and their audiences of patrons, listeners, and performers. For the salonnière, the musical salon offered a space between the public and private spheres that allowed her to exercise cultural agency.

In this book, musicologist and historical keyboardist Rebecca Cypess offers a broad overview of musical salons between 1760 and 1800, placing the figure of the salonnière at its center. Cypess then presents a series of in-depth case studies that meet the salonnière on her own terms. Women such as Anne-Louise Brillon de Jouy in Paris, Marianna Martines in Vienna, Sara Levy in Berlin, Angelica Kauffman in Rome, and Elizabeth Graeme in Philadelphia come to life in multidimensional ways. Crucially, Cypess uses performance as a tool for research, and her interpretations draw on her experience with the instruments and performance practices used in eighteenth-century salons. In this accessible, interdisciplinary book, Cypess explores women’s agency and authorship, reason and sentiment, and the roles of performing, collecting, listening, and conversing in the formation of eighteenth-century musical life.
Learn more about Women and Musical Salons in the Enlightenment at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Women and Musical Salons in the Enlightenment.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top novels with devilishly unreliable narrators

Benjamin Buchholz served in Yemen as the Chief of Attaché Operations at the US Embassy during and up to the Houthi overthrow of the Yemeni government. He is the author of the novels One Hundred and One Nights and Sirens of Manhattan, and the non-fiction book Private Soldiers.

[The Page 69 Test: One Hundred and One Nights; My Book, the Movie: One Hundred and One Nights; Writers Read: Benjamin Buchholz (January 2012)]

Buchholz's new book is The Tightening Dark: An American Hostage in Yemen, a memoir co-written with Sam Farran.

At Shepherd Buchholz tagged five favorite novels with devilishly unreliable narrators, including:
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Let me tell you, this is the mother of all unreliable narrators. We probably all know the moment when it happens, when we realize that Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, errr, Tyler Durden, can no longer be considered reliable in their telling of the tale. But how much better to read the words Palahniuk wrote, find in them the genesis of the movie, than to just get them fed to you while you're tied to an office chair with a gun in your mouth? Read it. You'll feel dirty and smart all at once.
Read about another entry on the list.

Fight Club is among Camilla Bruce's ten best books about imaginary friends, Catherine Steadman's six favorite books that feature unreliable narrators, Sarah Pinborough's top ten unreliable narrators, Richard Kadrey's top five books about awful, awful people, Chris Moss's top 19 books on how to be a man, E. Lockhart's seven favorite suspense novels, Joel Cunningham's top five books short enough to polish off in an afternoon, but deep enough to keep you thinking long into the night, Kathryn Williams's eight craziest unreliable narrators in fiction, Jessica Soffer's ten best book endings, Sebastian Beaumont's top ten books about psychological journeys, and Pauline Melville's top ten revolutionary tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 27, 2022

William Martin's "December ’41," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: December ’41 by William Martin.

From Martin's entry:
On the day after Pearl Harbor, a German assassin evades an FBI dragnet and begins preparations for a trip. He's going to Washington to shoot Franklin Roosevelt on Christmas Eve, as the president lights the National Christmas Tree. A failed actress travels with him, playing his faithful wife and - unbeknownst to her - covering for him. A disappointed Hollywood screenwriter crosses paths with him and comes under suspicion himself. A dogged FBI agent pursues him. Meanwhile, a wisecracking female private detective teams up with the FBI agent.

So who did I imagine in the roles? Well, since the book opens in Los Angeles, where everyone uses the movies as reference points, I'm not the only one who imagines these characters as movie actors in the book. A lot of the other characters do, too.

The German assassin, Martin Browning, should have a strong presence but a slight and unthreatening appearance. Some of his Nazi friends call him "Ash" because they think he looks like the actor who plays Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind. Before long, the FBI is looking for a guy who resembles Leslie Howard. So call Leslie Howard's agent.

The failed actress, Vivian Hopewell, has been told that she looks like a young Marlene Dietrich. So that's easy, even though one of the characters tells her that she reminds him more of...[read on]
Visit William Martin's website.

Q&A with William Martin.

My Book, The Movie: December ’41.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Alexander M. Martin's "From the Holy Roman Empire to the Land of the Tsars"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: From the Holy Roman Empire to the Land of the Tsars: One Family's Odyssey, 1768-1870 by Alexander M. Martin.

About the book, from the publisher:
In a manuscript in a Russian archive, an anonymous German eyewitness describes what he saw in Moscow during Napoleon's Russian campaign. Who was this nameless memoirist, and what brought him to Moscow in 1812? The search for answers to those questions uncovers a remarkable story of German and Russian life at the dawn of the modern age.

Johannes Ambrosius Rosenstrauch (1768-1835), the manuscript's author, was a man always on the move and reinventing himself. He spent half his life in the Holy Roman Empire, and the other half in Russia. He was a barber-surgeon, an actor, and a merchant, as well as a Catholic, a Freemason, and a Lutheran pastor. He saw the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, founded a business that flourished for sixty years, and took part in the Enlightenment, the consumer revolution, the Pietist Awakening, and Russia's colonization of the Black Sea steppe. A restless wanderer and seeker, but also the progenitor of an influential merchant family, he was a characteristic figure both of the Age of Revolution and of the bourgeois era that followed.

Presenting a broad panorama of life in the German lands and Russia from the Old Regime to modernity, this microhistory explores how individual people shape, and are shaped by, the historical forces of their time.
Learn more about From the Holy Roman Empire to the Land of the Tsars at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: From the Holy Roman Empire to the Land of the Tsars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven of the best books about underdogs

Michael Loynd is chairman of the St. Louis Olympic Committee, a representative on the International Olympic Committee’s World Union of Olympic Cities, a member of the International Society of Olympic Historians, and a sports attorney and lecturer. He is the author of All Things Irish: A Novel.

Loynd's new book is The Watermen: The Birth of American Swimming and One Young Man's Fight to Capture Olympic Gold.

At Lit Hub Loynd tagged seven of his go-to books about underdogs, including:
Wayne Coffey, The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team

Al Michael’s words in the last few seconds of the 1980 USA vs USSR Olympics hockey game are legendary: “Do you believe in Miracles? Yes!” Wayne Coffey takes us behind the scenes of all the sacrifices, hardship, and bonding that had to come together to make this ragtag group of college kids the greatest hockey team in the world—if just for that one night. Never has a sports game played such a part in our nation’s trajectory to recapture America’s lost swagger and confidence that had been lost after Vietnam and Watergate—and restored on this ice rink in Lake Placid. You’ll feel that way too.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue