Friday, March 31, 2023

Marcia Bradley's "The Home for Wayward Girls," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Home for Wayward Girls: A Novel by Marcia Bradley.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Home for Wayward Girls takes place in the late 1990’s and the early 21st century. The protagonist, Loretta, has spent the first seventeen years of her life on a ranch where people pay her parents to imprison their daughters and teach them to be good, subservient, God-fearing young women. Yet, I don’t imagine that it’s so different than the lives a lot of people find themselves stuck in. I think that many people, especially women, find that they must flee circumstances that are unbearable, as does Loretta.

In the dictionary the term everywoman is defined as an ordinary woman, representative of all women. Loretta is like many women who feel they have no way out, or that they are being brainwashed by questionable religious teachings, or that they have to repay a debt to those they live with. Whoever plays her in a movie must be an everywoman.

I must say that I’m beyond delighted to offer my picks for the cast of this movie. For Loretta, the big qualifier is that many young women would have to be able to see themselves in the actress. Emma Stone is perfect because she’s fantastic and earthy and seems she could be anyone’s friend. Elle Fanning as Loretta’s best friend Elsie would be awesome. I can just see the two of them breaking free!

There is an incredible group of young actresses who...[read on]
Visit Marcia Bradley's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Home for Wayward Girls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: James O. Young's "A History of Western Philosophy of Music"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A History of Western Philosophy of Music by James O. Young.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book presents a comprehensive, accessible survey of Western philosophy of music from Pythagoras to the present. Its narrative traces themes and schools through history, in a sequence of five chapters that survey the ancient, medieval, early modern, modern and contemporary periods. Its wide-ranging coverage includes medieval Islamic thinkers, Continental and analytic thinkers, and neglected female thinkers such as Vernon Lee (Violet Paget). All aspects of the philosophy of music are discussed, including music and the cosmos, music's value, music's relation to the other arts, the problem of opera, the origins of musical genius, music's emotional impact, the moral effects of music, the ontology of musical works, and the relevance of music's historical context. The volume will be valuable for students and scholars in philosophy and musicology, and all who are interested in the ways in which philosophers throughout history have thought about music.
Learn more about A History of Western Philosophy of Music at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: A History of Western Philosophy of Music.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten must-read alternate history thrillers

Josh Weiss is a first-time author from South Jersey. Raised in a proud Jewish home, he was instilled with an appreciation for his cultural heritage from a very young age. Today, Weiss is utterly fascinated with the convergence of Judaism and popular culture in film, television, comics, literature, and other media. After college, he became a freelance entertainment journalist, writing stories for SYFY WIRE, The Hollywood Reporter, Forbes, and Marvel Entertainment.

Weiss's new novel is Sunset Empire, the thrilling alternate history sequel to Beat the Devils.

[My Book, The Movie: Beat the Devils; The Page 69 Test: Beat the Devils; My Book, The Movie: Sunset Empire]

At CrimeReads Weiss recommended ten must-read alternate history thrillers, including:
Resurrection Day, Brendan DuBois (1999)

Resurrection Day takes the Cold War specter of mutually assured destruction to its logical conclusion, chillingly painting a world so vivid, it feels less like a work of fiction and more like a historical text plucked from somewhere out in the multiverse.

Set 10 years after the United States and Soviet Union exchanged ICMBs, a weary world tries its best to pick up the pieces of nuclear devastation. The USSR has essentially been wiped off the map, while America barely clings to its own sovereignty, relying on foreign aid from Britain and Canada. The late President John Fitzgerald Kennedy enjoys an almost mythological postmortem status, but not the one he received in the wake of our universe’s Dallas assassination. Blamed for failing to stop the deaths of millions of innocent people, Kennedy (and anyone even closely associated with him) is considered a mass murderer in line with Hitler and Stalin.

But does JFK truly deserve such infamy? That’s what Carl Landry, a reporter for the Boston Globe and former advisor to U.S. forces in South Vietnam (the sudden atomic war put the kibosh on the whole Indochina quagmire before it could begin in earnest) must find out.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 30, 2023

What is Edward Ashton reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Edward Ashton, author of Antimatter Blues: A Mickey7 Novel.

His entry begins:
I’m currently working my way through Children of Memory, the third installment in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time series. The thing I love about Tchaikovsky’s work in general, and about these books in particular, is that he’s able to put together compelling adventures filled with clearly drawn and engaging characters, while simultaneously twisting his readers’ brains into knots exploring deep questions about the nature of sentience and what it might mean to different types of minds.

It’s distressingly common in science fiction to see alien intelligences portrayed as more or less humans with too few eyeballs or too many limbs. Tchaikovsky’s genius is to...[read on]
About Antimatter Blues, from the publisher:
Edward Ashton's Antimatter Blues is the thrilling follow up to Mickey7 in which an expendable heads out to explore new terrain for human habitation.

Summer has come to Niflheim. The lichens are growing, the six-winged bat-things are chirping, and much to his own surprise, Mickey Barnes is still alive—that last part thanks almost entirely to the fact that Commander Marshall believes that the colony’s creeper neighbors are holding an antimatter bomb, and that Mickey is the only one who’s keeping them from using it. Mickey’s just another colonist now. Instead of cleaning out the reactor core, he spends his time these days cleaning out the rabbit hutches. It’s not a bad life.

It’s not going to last.

It may be sunny now, but winter is coming. The antimatter that fuels the colony is running low, and Marshall wants his bomb back. If Mickey agrees to retrieve it, he’ll be giving up the only thing that’s kept his head off of the chopping block. If he refuses, he might doom the entire colony. Meanwhile, the creepers have their own worries, and they’re not going to surrender the bomb without getting something in return. Once again, Mickey finds the fate of two species resting in his hands. If something goes wrong this time, though, he won’t be coming back.
Visit Edward Ashton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mickey7.

Q&A with Edward Ashton.

The Page 69 Test: Antimatter Blues.

Writers Read: Edward Ashton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten stories about wolves

Erica Berry is a writer based in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. She has an MFA from the University of Minnesota, where she was a College of Liberal Arts Fellow. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times Magazine, The Yale Review, Outside Magazine, Catapult, The Atlantic, Guernica, and elsewhere. Winner of the Steinberg Essay Prize and the Kurt Brown Prize in Nonfiction, she has received fellowships and funding from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Tin House, the Ucross Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources. A former Writer-in-Residence with the National Writers Series in Traverse City, Michigan, she is currently a Writer-in-the-Schools with Literary Arts in Portland.

[The Page 99 Test: Wolfish]

Berry's new book is Wolfish: Wolf, Self, and the Stories We Tell About Fear.

At the Guardian she tagged ten stories that "made me consider the wolf and our vision of it in an important new light," including:
Wild Souls by Emma Marris

Should a wolf be prevented from breeding with a dog? Is a tracked, collared animal “wild”? Marris unspools these inquiries at the intersection of philosophy and ecology, tracing a few fascinating case studies around specific American wolves in the process. “If most wolves outside of National Parks die young because of human actions, I think it is legitimate to ask whether having wolves in the west is worth the cost to individual wolves,” she writes. This book is an elegant provocation.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kimberly Quiogue Andrews's "The Academic Avant-Garde"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Academic Avant-Garde: Poetry and the American University by Kimberly Quiogue Andrews.

About the book, from the publisher:
The surprising story of the relationship between experimental poetry and literary studies.

In The Academic Avant-Garde, Kimberly Quiogue Andrews makes a provocative case for the radical poetic possibilities of the work of literary scholarship and lays out a foundational theory of literary production in the context of the university. In her examination of the cross-pollination between the analytic humanities and the craft of poetry writing, Andrews tells a bold story about some of today's most innovative literary works.

This pathbreaking intervention into contemporary American literature and higher education demonstrates that experimental poetry not only reflects nuanced concern about creative writing as a discipline but also uses the critical techniques of scholarship as a cornerstone of poetic practice. Structured around the concepts of academic labor (such as teaching) and methodological work (such as theorizing), the book traces these practices in the works of authors ranging from Claudia Rankine to John Ashbery, providing fresh readings of some of our era's most celebrated and difficult poets.
Visit Kimberly Quiogue Andrews's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Academic Avant-Garde.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Francesca Flores's "The Witch and the Vampire"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Witch and the Vampire: A Novel by Francesca Flores.

About the book, from the publisher:
Francesca Flores's The Witch and the Vampire is a queer Rapunzel retelling where a witch and a vampire who trust no one but themselves must journey together through a cursed forest with danger at every turn.

Ava and Kaye used to be best friends. Until one night two years ago, vampires broke through the magical barrier protecting their town, and in the ensuing attack, Kaye’s mother was killed, and Ava was turned into a vampire. Since then, Ava has been trapped in her house. Her mother Eugenia needs her: Ava still has her witch powers, and Eugenia must take them in order to hide that she's a vampire as well. Desperate to escape her confinement and stop her mother's plans to destroy the town, Ava must break out, flee to the forest, and seek help from the vampires who live there. When there is another attack, she sees her opportunity and escapes.

Kaye, now at the end of her training as a Flame witch, is ready to fulfill her duty of killing any vampires that threaten the town, including Ava. On the night that Ava escapes, Kaye follows her and convinces her to travel together into the forest, while secretly planning to turn her in. Ava agrees, hoping to rekindle their old friendship, and the romantic feelings she'd started to have for Kaye before that terrible night.

But with monstrous trees that devour humans whole, vampires who attack from above, and Ava’s stepfather tracking her, the woods are full of danger. As they travel deeper into the forest, Kaye questions everything she thought she knew. The two are each other's greatest threat—and also their only hope, if they want to make it through the forest unscathed.
Visit Francesca Flores's website.

Writers Read: Francesca Flores (January 2020).

My Book, The Movie: Diamond City.

The Page 69 Test: The Witch and the Vampire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Ten top novels with heroines who are hot messes

Justine Sullivan was born and raised just outside of Baltimore, Maryland, where she failed to learn how to shuck a crab and never attended a single Orioles game. She did, however, discover a passion for reading at her local Harford County Library. She went on to study English Literature at the University of Delaware and then earned her master's in journalism from Boston University and has since spent a number of years working in both newsrooms and the world of branded content. Sullivan lives outside of Boston with her husband and two terribly behaved dogs. He Said He Would Be Late is her debut novel.

At Lit Hub Sullivan tagged ten favorite novels with heroines who are hot messes, including:
Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

“When she was seventeen, a little bomb went off in her brain.” Martha Friel has struggled with undiagnosed mental illness most of her life but no doctor, drug or therapy has been able to fix her. This book is dark and funny and sharp as a razor’s edge. I couldn’t put it down—or stop rooting for Martha.
Read about another entry on the list.

Sorrow and Bliss is among Claire Alexander's five books to read when you’re lonely, Jane Shemilt's five books tracing the portrayal of mental disorders in literature, and Alyssa Vaughn's [February 2021] 42 books to help you get through the rest of quarantine.

The Page 69 Test: Sorrow and Bliss.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Geoffrey Block's "A Fine Romance"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A Fine Romance: Adapting Broadway to Hollywood in the Studio System Era by Geoffrey Block.

About the book, from the publisher:
How do we compare a Broadway musical to its Hollywood counterpart? A Fine Romance: Adapting Broadway to Hollywood in the Studio System Era answers this question by exploring the symbiotic relationship between a dozen Broadway musicals and their Hollywood film adaptations. From enduring classics like Oklahoma!, Brigadoon, and West Side Story to lesser-known gems such as Cabin in the Sky, Call Me Madam, and Silk Stockings, author Geoffrey Block examines some of the best loved stage and screen musicals of all time as well as neglected works that deserve our attention and respect.

Block delves into what happens during the transfer of stories from stage to film, the critical criteria that motivates decisions to alter or preserve stage elements when adapting to film, and the dramatic and musical consequences at play in these artistic and commercial choices. In telling this story, A Fine Romance engages with aesthetic and critical concerns while also considering the social issues around Broadway and Hollywood film through the lenses of race and ethnicity, class, gender, and sexual identity.

Beginning with the stage debut of Show Boat in 1927 and concluding with the release of Bob Fosse's cinematic re-envisioning of Cabaret nearly a half century later in 1972, the romance between Broadway and Hollywood was frequently turbulent. Differing commercial and aesthetic models and goals of Broadway and Hollywood created both conflicting and harmonious collaborations. Attempts at economic and artistic domination, irreconcilable differences, and occasional broken promises ensued. At other times, the screen and stage creative teams aligned, resulting in well-crafted, much admired, and frequently breathtaking films.
Learn more about A Fine Romance at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: A Fine Romance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Amulya Malladi

From my Q&A with Amulya Malladi, author of A Death in Denmark: The First Gabriel Præst Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I’m one of those writers who needs the title before I can start writing a book. A Death in Denmark was called Sinnerman when I started working on it. Since my protagonist Gabriel Præst is a blues musician, he plays the guitar, and is a fan of Nina Simone, this title fit well.

However, my editor wondered if people would be expecting a serial killer novel instead of the political mystery and thriller the book is. We went a few rounds and decided that A Death in Denmark said everything we needed it to say. I love the title. It’s simple and draws the reader in immediately: a murder took place in Denmark…don’t you want to know...[read on]
Visit Amulya Malladi's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Death in Denmark.

The Page 69 Test: A Death in Denmark.

Q&A with Amulya Malladi.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Josh Weiss's "Sunset Empire," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Sunset Empire by Josh Weiss.

The entry begins:
My personal fan-casting still stands from last time: Matthew Rhys (The Americans), Morgan Spector (The Plot Against America), or Oscar Isaac (Operation Finale) are all free to play the role of Morris Baker if they ever find themselves interested. For now, though, I’ll continue to sit by the phone, eagerly waiting for Hollywood to call and scoop up the screen rights to Beat the Devils, Sunset Empire, and any subsequent novels that may come out of my head.

While I don’t have any strong casting thoughts on Book 2 beyond the character of Baker, I think its general atmosphere would be really cool to see on screen — perhaps in the hands of horror maestro Guillermo del Toro? Guillermo, bubeleh, give me a buzz when you get a chance. Let’s talk turkey! All joking aside, I’d love to see del Toro’s penchant for exploring deep themes by way of a fraught historical period by way of this novel.

Sunset Empire takes place against the backdrop of a dreary, almost gothic cold spell gripping the city of Los Angeles in late 1959. Instead of...[read on]
Visit Josh Weiss's website.

Writers Read: Josh Weiss (March 2022).

My Book, The Movie: Beat the Devils.

The Page 69 Test: Beat the Devils.

My Book, The Movie: Sunset Empire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight books with all the band drama of "Daisy Jones & the Six"

At Vulture Jessica Gentile tagged eight titles with all the band drama of Daisy Jones & the Six, including:
Mary Jane, by Jessica Anya Blau

Imagine Daisy Jones’s world as interpolated by a straitlaced teenager whose world is inextricably altered by a summer-long encounter with a legendary rockstar and his celebrity wife in 1970s suburban Baltimore. That’s the premise of this novel, which finds the titular Mary Jane working as a nanny for an eccentric psychiatrist’s family and their high-profile live-in patients. The free-spirited musician challenges Mary Jane’s every notion of propriety and social convention with the usual sexual escapades and druggy antics. The summer job leads her on a self-actualizing journey, as she transforms from Sunday School–going good girl to countercultural devotee.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Mary Jane.

Q&A with Jessica Anya Blau.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: William Jankowiak's "Illicit Monogamy"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Illicit Monogamy: Inside a Fundamentalist Mormon Community by William Jankowiak.

About the book, from the publisher:
Angel Park is a Mormon fundamentalist polygamous community where plural marriages between one man and multiple women are common. In contrast to mainstream America’s idealization of the nuclear family and romantic love, its residents esteem notions of harmonious familial love, a spiritual bond that unites all family members. In their view, polygyny is not only righteous and sanctified―it is also conducive to communal life and social stability.

Based on many years of in-depth ethnographic research in Angel Park, this book explores daily life in a polygamous community. William R. Jankowiak considers the plural family from the points of view of husbands, wives, and children, giving a balanced account of its complications and conflicts. He finds that people in polygynous marriages, especially cowives, experience an ongoing struggle to balance the longing for romantic intimacy with the obligation to support the larger family. They feel tension between deeply held religious convictions and the desire for emotional exclusivity, which can threaten the stability and harmony of the polygamous family. Men and women often form exclusive romantic pairs within plural marriages, which are tolerated if not openly acknowledged, showing the limits of the community’s beliefs. Jankowiak also challenges stereotypes of polygamous families as bastions of patriarchal power, showing the weight that interpersonal and social expectations place on men.

Offering an unparalleled look at the complexity of a polygamous religious community, Illicit Monogamy also helps us reconsider relationships, love, and family dynamics across cultures and settings.
Learn more about Illicit Monogamy at the Columbia University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Illicit Monogamy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Scott Reintgen's "A Door in the Dark"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Door in the Dark by Scott Reintgen.

About the book, from the publisher:
One of Us is Lying meets A Deadly Education in this fantasy thriller that follows six teenage wizards as they fight to make it home alive after a malfunctioning spell leaves them stranded in the wilderness.

Ren Monroe has spent four years proving she’s one of the best wizards in her generation. But top marks at Balmerick University will mean nothing if she fails to get recruited into one of the major houses. Enter Theo Brood. If being rich were a sin, he’d already be halfway to hell. After a failed and disastrous party trick, fate has the two of them crossing paths at the public waxway portal the day before holidays—Theo’s punishment is to travel home with the scholarship kids. Which doesn’t sit well with any of them.

A fight breaks out. In the chaos, the portal spell malfunctions. All six students are snatched from the safety of the school’s campus and set down in the middle of nowhere. And one of them is dead on arrival.

If anyone can get them through the punishing wilderness with limited magical reserves it’s Ren. She’s been in survival mode her entire life. But no magic could prepare her for the tangled secrets the rest of the group is harboring, or for what’s following them through the dark woods...
Visit Scott Reintgen's website and follow him on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Nyxia.

The Page 69 Test: Ashlords.

The Page 69 Test: A Door in the Dark.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 27, 2023

What is Elizabeth Wein reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Elizabeth Wein, author of Stateless.

Her entry begins:
I am reading Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence. What a project.

I have great admiration for the movie Lawrence of Arabia; I once visited Cloud Hill, Lawrence’s eccentric home in southern England, and wished it were mine. We have a thing in our family where when you buy a tin of sardines and crackers in a local grocery store and eat it on a hike, that is a “Lawrence of Arabia picnic.” But I’d never thought about reading Lawrence’s autobiographical account of his World War I experience fighting the Turks until recently, when some internet rabbit-hole led me to an auction advertising a signed first edition for £27,000 or something equally ridiculous, and I...[read on]
About Stateless, from the publisher:
From the beloved #1 bestselling author of Code Name Verity, this thrilling murder mystery set in 1937 Europe soars with intrigue, glamour, secrets, and betrayal.

When Stella North is chosen to represent Britain in Europe’s first air race for young people, she knows all too well how high the stakes are. As the only participating female pilot, it’ll be a constant challenge to prove she’s a worthy competitor. But promoting peace in Europe feels empty to Stella when civil war is raging in Spain and the Nazis are gaining power—and when, right from the start, someone resorts to cutthroat sabotage to get ahead of the competition.

The world is looking for inspiration in what’s meant to be a friendly sporting event. But each of the racers is hiding a turbulent and violent past, and any one of them might be capable of murder…including Stella herself.
Visit Elizabeth Wein's website.

The Page 69 Test: Black Dove, White Raven.

The Page 69 Test: The Pearl Thief.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Wein (January 2019).

The Page 99 Test: A Thousand Sisters.

My Book, The Movie: Stateless.

The Page 69 Test: Stateless.

Writers Read: Elizabeth Wein.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven crime novels that engage with reality TV

Molly Odintz is the Senior Editor for CrimeReads and the editor of Austin Noir, forthcoming from Akashic Books. She grew up in Austin and worked as a bookseller at BookPeople, and recently returned to Central Texas after five years in NYC. She likes cats, crime novels, and coffee.

At CrimeReads Odintz tagged seven "great thrillers and mysteries coming out over the past few years that engage with reality TV, its artifice, its struggles, and its discontents." One title on the list:
Alexandra Oliva, The Last One

I really enjoyed this one when it first came out. A contestant on a reality survival show emerges from the forest to find that the world itself has irrevocably changed, and has become, well, one big survival show. As she tries to make her way home to her family, she’ll test all her new skills and more in the struggle.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Last One is among Heather Chavez's seven novels where fun & games threaten to turn fatal.

The Page 69 Test: The Last One.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Zachary Jonathan Jacobson's "On Nixon's Madness"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: On Nixon's Madness: An Emotional History by Zachary Jonathan Jacobson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Was Richard Nixon actually a madman, or did he just play one?

When Richard Nixon battled for the presidency in 1968, he did so with the knowledge that, should he win, he would face the looming question of how to extract the United States from its disastrous war in Vietnam. It was on a beach that summer that Nixon disclosed to his chief aide, H. R. Haldeman, one of his most notorious, risky gambits: the madman theory.

In On Nixon's Madness, Zachary Jonathan Jacobson examines the enigmatic president through this theory of Nixon's own invention. With strategic force and nuclear bluffing, Nixon attempted to coerce his foreign adversaries through sheer unpredictability. As his national security advisor Henry Kissinger noted, Nixon's strategy resembled a poker game in which he "push[ed] so many chips into the pot" that the United States' foes would think the president had gone "crazy."

From Vietnam, Pakistan, and India to the greater Middle East, Nixon applied this madman theory. Foreign relations were not a steady march toward peaceful coexistence but rather an ongoing test of mettle. Nixon saw the Cold War as he saw his life, as a series of ordeals that demanded great risk and grand gestures. For decades, journalists, critics, and scholars have searched for the real Nixon behind these acts. Was he a Red-baiter, a worldly statesman, a war criminal or, in the end, a punchline?

Jacobson combines biography and intellectual and cultural history to understand the emotional life of Richard Nixon, exploring how the former president struggled between great effusions of feeling and great inhibition, how he winced at the notion of his reputation for rage, and how he used that ill repute to his advantage.
Visit Zachary Jonathan Jacobson's website.

The Page 99 Test: On Nixon's Madness.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Margaret Fenton & Roly, Lady and Mimi

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Fenton & Roly, Lady and Mimi.

How Fenton and her Papillons were united, from the author:
Ten years ago, I wanted a dog. I’m allergic to cats so a dog was kinda the only option for a furry pet other than some form of rodent (no, thank you). My husband said he wasn’t a dog person and we couldn’t get one (Ha! So wrong). I literally begged and begged until he gave in, but his only stipulation was to get one like my brother had. At the time, my brother and his (now ex-) wife had a Papillion named Cinderella who was so beautiful and smart. So I found a lady here in Alabama who had Pap puppies for sale. I knew I wanted a male and she had three four-month-olds that were available. I went to her house and she took all the females out of the room and I sat on the floor with the three males. Roly walked over and sat in my lap. His birth-owner said, “I think that’s your dog.”

No truer statement has ever been uttered. So I bring Roly home and it takes, oh, about a month before my husband falls deeply, madly and truly in love with Roly. He looked at me and said, “Go get another one!” I called Roly’s birth-owner and she had Roly’s half-sister for sale, so we got her and that’s Lady. Mimi was my above-mentioned brother’s dog. He...[read on]
About Fenton's latest Claire Conover mystery, Little White Lies:
Claire Conover is drawn into another mystery when the office of black mayoral candidate Dr. Marcus Freedman is bombed. Marcus is found safe, but his campaign manager Jason O'Dell is found dead in the rubble. Claire's office gets a call about Jason's daughter who was left at her daycare, and she becomes Claire's latest charge as she investigates what happened.
Visit Margaret Fenton's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Fenton & Roly, Lady and Mimi.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Eight novels with characters who go to therapy

Lisa Zhuang is an intern at Electric Literature. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Emory University and currently resides in mid-Missouri.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight books that "showcase characters who receive some kind of mental health care," including:
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie Jenkins’ no good, very bad year begins with a disastrous break-up with her white boyfriend Tom, followed soon by the realization that she was pregnant and just had a miscarriage. Things get worse when Queenie attempts to distract herself by sleeping with other men, one of whom turns out to be her close friend Cassandra’s boyfriend. As her personal life falls apart, her professional life grows stagnant, her editor refusing to take her pitches seriously and sending her off to write shallow fashion articles. Everything gets worse before it gets better, but eventually Queenie opts to visit a therapist, who slowly works with her to find value within herself.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Stevan M. Weine's "Best Minds"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Best Minds: How Allen Ginsberg Made Revolutionary Poetry from Madness by Stevan M. Weine.

About the book, from the publisher:
A revelatory look at how poet Allen Ginsberg transformed experiences of mental illness and madness into some of the most powerful and widely read poems of the twentieth century.

Allen Ginsberg’s 1956 poem “Howl” opens with one of the most resonant phrases in modern poetry: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness.” Thirty years later, Ginsberg entrusted a Columbia University medical student with materials not shared with anyone else, including psychiatric records which documented how he and his mother, Naomi Ginsberg, struggled with mental illness.

In Best Minds, psychiatrist , researcher, and scholar Stevan M. Weine, M.D., who was that medical student, examines how Allen Ginsberg took his visions and psychiatric hospitalization, his mother’s devastating illness, confinement, and lobotomy, and the social upheavals of the post-war world and imaginatively transformed them.

Though madness is often linked with hardship and suffering, Ginsberg showed how it could also lead to profound and redemptive aesthetic, spiritual, and social changes. Through his revolutionary poetry and social advocacy, Ginsberg dedicated himself to leading others toward new ways of being human and easing pain.

Throughout his celebrated career Ginsberg’s writings and most public life made us feel as though we knew everything there was to know about him. However, much has been left out about his experiences growing up with a mentally ill mother, his visions, and his psychiatric hospitalization.

In Best Minds, with a forty-year career studying and addressing trauma, Weine provides a groundbreaking exploration of the poet and his creative process especially in relation to madness.

Best Minds examines the complex relationships between mental illness, psychiatry, trauma, poetry, and prophecy—using the access Ginsberg generously shared to offer new, lively and indispensable insights into an American icon. Weine also provides new understandings of the paternalism, treatment failures, ethical lapses, and limitations of American psychiatry of the 1940s and 1950s.

In light of these new discoveries, the challenges Ginsberg faced appear starker and his achievements, both as a poet and an advocate, are even more remarkable.
Learn more about Best Minds at the Fordham University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Best Minds.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Amulya Malladi's "A Death in Denmark"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Death in Denmark: The First Gabriel Præst Novel by Amulya Malladi.

About the book, from the publisher:
Meet Gabriel Præst, an ex-Copenhagen cop (who dresses with panache), jazz aficionado, and relentless pursuer of truth as he explores Denmark’s Nazi-collaborator past and anti-Muslim present in a page-turning Nordic murder mystery with a cosmopolitan vibe

Everyone in Denmark knew that Yousef Ahmed, a refugee from Iraq, brutally murdered the right-wing politician Sanne Melgaard. So, when part-time blues musician, frustrated home renovator, and full-time private detective Gabriel Præst agrees to investigate the matter because his ex—the one who got away—asked him to, he knew it was a no-win case.

But as Gabriel starts to ask questions, his face meets with the fists of Russian gangsters; the Danish prime minister asks him for a favor; and he starts to realize that something may be rotten in the state of Denmark.

Wondering if Yousef was framed to heighten the local anti-Muslim sentiment, Gabriel follows a trail back in time to World War II when anti-Semitism was raging in Europe during the German occupation of Denmark. Fearing a nationalistic mindset has resurfaced, Gabriel rolls up the sleeves of his well-cut suit and gets to work. From the cobblestone streets of Copenhagen to the historic Strassen of Berlin where the sounds of the steel-toed boots of marching Nazis still linger, Gabriel finds that some very powerful Danes don’t want him digging into the case—as the secrets he unearths could shake the foundations of Danish identity.
Visit Amulya Malladi's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Death in Denmark.

The Page 69 Test: A Death in Denmark.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Seven novels featuring displacement in multicultural London

Cecile Pin grew up in Paris and New York City. She moved to London at eighteen to study Philosophy at University College London, followed by an MA at King’s College London. She writes for Bad Form Review, was longlisted for their Young Writer’s prize and is a London Writers Awards 2021 winner (Literary Fiction category). Her debut novel is Wandering Souls.

At Lit Hub she tagged seven favorite "novels that deal with displacement in London," including:
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Winner of the Booker Prize, Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives of twelve characters – mostly women, mostly black – in Great-Britain. Almost all are either immigrants or children of immigrants, from Ghana, Nigeria, the Gambia, Barbados, Abyssinia, and Somalia. Besides London, we follow their lives in Cornwall and Newcastle throughout the last hundred years. We witness the discrimination they face, but also the joy they experience, the friendships they form.

Girl, Woman, Other is an ode to black womanhood and modern day Great-Britain. Like [Zadie Smith's] White Teeth, it is an ultimately joyous and triumphant tale, with an array of lovable characters.
Read about another entry on the list.

Girl, Woman, Other is among Kasim Ali's nine top books about interracial relationships.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ari Joskowicz's "Rain of Ash"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Rain of Ash: Roma, Jews, and the Holocaust by Ari Joskowicz.

About the book, from the publisher:
A major new history of the genocide of Roma and Jews during World War II and their entangled quest for historical justice

Jews and Roma died side by side in the Holocaust, yet the world did not recognize their destruction equally. In the years and decades following the war, the Jewish experience of genocide increasingly occupied the attention of legal experts, scholars, educators, curators, and politicians, while the genocide of Europe’s Roma went largely ignored. Rain of Ash is the untold story of how Roma turned to Jewish institutions, funding sources, and professional networks as they sought to gain recognition and compensation for their wartime suffering.

Ari Joskowicz vividly describes the experiences of Hitler’s forgotten victims and charts the evolving postwar relationship between Roma and Jews over the course of nearly a century. During the Nazi era, Jews and Roma shared little in common besides their simultaneous persecution. Yet the decades of entwined struggles for recognition have deepened Romani-Jewish relations, which now center not only on commemorations of past genocides but also on contemporary debates about antiracism and Zionism.

Unforgettably moving and sweeping in scope, Rain of Ash is a revelatory account of the unequal yet necessary entanglement of Jewish and Romani quests for historical justice and self-representation that challenges us to radically rethink the way we remember the Holocaust.
Learn more about Rain of Ash at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Rain of Ash.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Mia Tsai

From my Q&A with Mia Tsai, author of Bitter Medicine:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

On a scale of "says what it is exactly on the tin" to "metaphor several layers deep," Bitter Medicine scores in the middle. "Bitter medicine" describes the main theme of the book--the hard-to-swallow lessons you have to learn in life, whatever they may be--but it is also literal, as the title appears within the text. It's also a bit of editorializing about the taste of Chinese medicine, most of which has disagreed with my taste buds. More to the point, Elle, one of my main characters, is a descendant of the Chinese god of medicine and a pretty good doctor in her own right, so the title is relevant in multiple ways.

Prior to a big rewrite that pushed the novel more into the realm of fantasy, it was titled A Brush with Love, which worked for me because Elle is a calligrapher and a lot of what she values revolves around her art. But it could also be misconstrued as a romance about dentists. Bitter Medicine is definitely the better title, and...[read on]
Visit Mia Tsai's website.

Q&A with Mia Tsai.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 24, 2023

Eight of the best bad seed novels

Nathan Oates’s debut collection of short stories, The Empty House, won the Spokane Prize. His stories have appeared in The Missouri Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Copper Nickel, West Branch, The Best American Mystery Stories, and elsewhere. He is an associate professor at Seton Hall University, where he teaches creative writing. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his family.

Oates’s new novel is A Flaw in the Design.

At CrimesReads he tagged eight novels featuring "bad seeds and the threat they pose to their families, their communities, and, in some cases, the world." One entry on the list:
The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith

No list of bad seeds could ever leave out Tom Ripley, one of the most iconic figures in twentieth century fiction. This is my favorite of Highsmith’s novels, though she wrote many very good ones. That she manages to make me sympathize with a character who is a psychopath is something I studied and want to try to emulate. In some ways I think of the dangerous nephew in my own novel as a hybrid of Tom and his love-object/first victim, Dickie Greenleaf. A dangerous, devious boy, but also one, in my version, who is fabulously rich and entitled. Many of Highsmith’s narrators teeter on the edge of evil, and part of the pleasure of her books is watching them slip fully into their true, often terrible, selves.
Read about another title on the list.

The Talented Mr Ripley is on Lizzy Barber's list of seven titles about wealthy people behaving badly, Charlotte Northedge's top ten list of novels about toxic friendships, Elizabeth Macneal's list of five books that explore the dark side of fitting in, Saul A. Lelchuk's nine great thrillers featuring alter egos, Emma Stonex's list of seven top mystery novels set by the sea, Russ Thomas's top ten list of queer protagonists in crime fictionPaul Vidich's list of five of the most enduring imposters in crime fiction & espionage, Lisa Levy's list of eight of the most toxic friendships in crime fiction, Elizabeth Macneal's list of five sympathetic fictional psychopaths, Laurence Scott's list of seven top books about doppelgangers, J.S. Monroe's list of seven suspenseful literary thrillers, Simon Lelic's top ten list of false identities in fiction, Jeff Somers's list of fifty novels that changed novels, Olivia Sudjic's list of eight favorite books about love and obsession, Roz Chast's six favorite books list, Nicholas Searle's top five list of favorite deceivers in fiction, Chris Ewan's list of the ten top chases in literature, Meave Gallagher's top twenty list of gripping page-turners every twentysomething woman should read, Sophia Bennett's top ten list of books set in the Mediterranean, Emma Straub's top ten list of holidays in fiction, E. Lockhart's list of favorite suspense novels, Sally O'Reilly's top ten list of novels inspired by Shakespeare, Walter Kirn's top six list of books on deception, Stephen May's top ten list of impostors in fiction, Simon Mason's top ten list of chilling fictional crimes, Melissa Albert's list of eight books to change a villain, Koren Zailckas's list of eleven of literature's more evil characters, Alex Berenson's five best list of books about Americans abroad John Mullan's list of ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, Tana French's top ten maverick mysteries list, the Guardian's list of the 50 best summer reads ever, the Telegraph's ultimate reading list, and Francesca Simon's top ten list of antiheroes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Christine Kenneally's "Ghosts of the Orphanage"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Ghosts of the Orphanage: A Story of Mysterious Deaths, a Conspiracy of Silence, and a Search for Justice by Christine Kenneally.

About the book, from the publisher:
The shocking secret history of twentieth-century orphanages—which for decades hid violence, abuse, and deaths within their walls

For much of the twentieth century, a series of terrible events—abuse, both physical and psychological, and even deaths—took places inside orphanages. The survivors have been trying to tell their astonishing stories for a long time, but disbelief, secrecy, and trauma have kept them from breaking through. For ten years, Christine Kenneally has been on a quest to uncover the harrowing truth.

Centering her story on St. Joseph’s, a Catholic orphanage in Vermont, Kenneally has written a stunning account of a series of crimes and abuses. But her work is not confined to one place. Following clues that take her into the darkened corners of several institutions across the globe, she finds a trail of terrifying stories and a courageous group of survivors who are seeking justice. Ghosts of the Orphanage is an incredible true crime story and a reckoning with a past that has stayed buried for too long, with tragic consequences.
Visit Christine Kenneally's website.

Writers Read: Christine Kenneally (November 2009).

The Page 99 Test: The First Word.

The Page 99 Test: Ghosts of the Orphanage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Asale Angel-Ajani's "A Country You Can Leave"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Country You Can Leave: A Novel by Asale Angel-Ajani.

About the book, from the publisher:
A stunning debut novel following the turbulent relationship of a Black, biracial teen and her ferocious Russian mother, struggling to survive in the California desert.

When sixteen-year-old Lara and her fiery mother, Yevgenia, find themselves homeless again, the misnamed Oasis Mobile Estates is all they can afford. In this new community, where residents are down on their luck but rich in humor and escape plans, Lara navigates what it means to be the Black, biracial daughter of a Russian mother and begins to wonder what a life beyond Yevgenia’s orbit—insistence on reading only the right kind of books (Russian), having the right kind of relationships (casual, with lots of sex)—might look like.

Lara knows that something else lies beneath her mother’s fierce, independent spirit, but Yevgenia doesn't believe in sharing, least of all with her daughter. When a brutal attack exposes the cracks in their relationship, Lara and Yevgenia are forced to confront the family legacy of violence and the strain of inherited trauma on the bonds of their love.

A Country You Can Leave is a dazzling, sharp-witted story, suffused with yearning, as Lara and Yevgenia attempt to forge their own identities and thrive in a hostile land. Compelling and empathetic, wry and intimate, Asale Angel-Ajani's unforgettable debut novel examines the beauty and dangers of womanhood in multiracial America.
Visit Asale Angel-Ajani's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Country You Can Leave.

The Page 69 Test: A Country You Can Leave.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 23, 2023

What is Frank Sennett reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Frank Sennett, author of Shadow State.

His entry begins:
I'm two-thirds of the way through Bob Dylan's The Philosophy of Modern Song, which comprises 60-plus essays on songs that have hit his creative trip wires over the years. I'm listening to the audio version of the book, which intercuts Dylan's direct narration with passages read by actors such as Rita Moreno, Sissy Spacek, Jeff Bridges and John Goodman. It's a delightful flight of fancy, reminiscent of Dylan's old Sirius XM show, Theme Time Radio Hour. It's at turns moody and atmospheric, elliptical and playful, and always insightful. My favorite essay so far is the one in which Dylan adopts the persona of the narrator of "Blue Suede Shoes," written by Carl Perkins in 1955 and recorded most memorably by Elvis Presley the following year. In character, Dylan...[read on]
About Shadow State, from the publisher:
Perfect for fans of Matthew Quirk and Barry Eisler, in Frank Sennett’s hands, the world of a former military officer and Secret Service agent comes to harrowing life as a diabolical plot threatens everything he cherishes and believes.

Ex-Army Ranger sniper Rafe Hendrix leads the Secret Service detail of President Wyetta Johnson. Rafe and Wyetta became close when they served together in Afghanistan and he saved her life during a recon misadventure that cost her a leg.

The President’s wife visits a D.C. private-school classroom, and Hendrix is on sniper duty when a suicide bomber heads toward the First Lady. Hendrix disobeys a direct order and an unthinkable disaster unfolds. Though Hendrix may have saved the First Lady, he’s blamed for the carnage. And the violence hits harder than he ever could have imagined.

Rafe is cast adrift after the incident and he leaves D.C. for Fort Stockton, Texas. His prospects brighten when he meets veterinarian Melody Sanchez and their romance begins to bloom. But there’s still unfinished business waiting in the wings.

Someone from the past is bent on revenge—and he has Rafe firmly in his sights. His plan is as twisted as they come—grisly recreations of some of the most terrible events from the past. And now it’s up to Rafe to learn from history—or be doomed to repeat it.
Follow Frank Sennett on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Shadow State.

My Book, The Movie: Shadow State.

Writers Read: Frank Sennett.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about corruption

David Beckler's new Antonia Conti thriller is A Stolen Memory.

In the Guardian he writes:
When I wrote the first of the Antonia Conti novels, A Long Shadow, in 2013, I believed most readers didn’t think we had a problem with corruption in the UK. Some early feedback I got from publishers and agents mentioned it was a bit “far-fetched”. By the time it came out last year, public opinion had changed.
One of the author's top ten books about corruption:
The Border by Don Winslow

The last instalment of a trilogy that charts 40 years of the “war on drugs”. Our guide is Art Keller, who has risen to the highest echelons of the DEA. These are the stories of the drug producers, smugglers, and distributors on one side and the drug enforcement agencies and the politicians who ostensibly control them on the other. Between them are the people caught up in a conflict they want no part of but can’t escape. Above these are the ruthless cartels that control the drug trade and buy off politicians and police officers. We’re shown the devastating impact this has on the lives of the innocent and not-so-innocent. Winslow brings the strands together with great skill.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue