Sunday, March 31, 2024

What is Robert Dugoni reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Robert Dugoni, author of A Killing on the Hill: A Thriller.

His entry begins:
I’m currently reading two works. I’m reading the young adult series, Peter and the Star Catchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, because I love to get lost in fantasy.

I’m also reading Joy Jordan-Lake's Echoes of Us, a historical mystery about World War II coming to the island of St. Simmons Island off the coast of Georgia and three men who become...[read on]
About A Killing on the Hill, from the publisher:
A gripping new thriller from New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni.

The Great Depression. High-level corruption. And a murder that’s about to become Seattle’s hottest mystery. It’s the kind of story that can make a reporter’s career. If he lives to write about it.

Seattle, 1933. The city is in the grips of the Great Depression, Prohibition, and vice. Cutting his teeth on a small-time beat, hungry and ambitious young reporter William “Shoe” Shumacher gets a tip that could change his career. There’s been a murder at a social club on Profanity Hill―an underworld magnet for vice crimes only a privileged few can afford. The story is going to be front-page news, and Shoe is the first reporter on the scene.

The victim, Frankie Ray, is a former prizefighter. His accused killer? Club owner and mobster George Miller, who claims he pulled the trigger in self-defense. Soon the whole town’s talking, and Shoe’s first homicide is fast becoming the Trial of the Century. The more Shoe digs, the more he’s convinced nothing is as it seems. Not with a tangle of conflicting stories, an unlikely motive, and witnesses like Ray’s girlfriend, a glamour girl whose pretty lips are sealed. For now.

In a city steeped in Old West debauchery, Shoe’s following every lead to a very dangerous place―one that could bring him glory and fame or end his life.
Visit Robert Dugoni's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Wrongful Death.

The Page 69 Test: Bodily Harm.

My Book, The Movie: Bodily Harm.

The Page 69 Test: Murder One.

My Book, The Movie: Murder One.

My Book, The Movie: The Eighth Sister.

The Page 69 Test: The Eighth Sister.

My Book, The Movie: A Cold Trail.

The Page 69 Test: A Cold Trail.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Agent.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Agent.

Q&A with Robert Dugoni.

The Page 69 Test: In Her Tracks.

Writers Read: Robert Dugoni.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Julie Hanlon Rubio's "Can You Be a Catholic and a Feminist?"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Can You Be a Catholic and a Feminist? by Julie Hanlon Rubio.

About the book, from the publisher:
An eminent theologian addresses an enduring--but newly urgent--question

Is it possible to be both a faithful Catholic and an avowed feminist? Earlier generations of feminists first formulated answers to this question in the 1970s. Their views are still broadly held, but with increasing tentativeness and a growing sense of their inadequacy. Even now, Catholic women and men still say, "It's my Church and I'm not leaving," "Change will only happen if people like me stay and fight," and "The Church's work for social justice is more important than the issues that concern me as a feminist." Yet in a post-#MeToo, #ChurchToo moment, when the Church seems disconnected from struggles for racial justice and LGBTQ inclusion, those answers sound increasingly insufficient. Today, tensions between Catholicism and feminism are more visible and ties to Catholic communities are increasingly weak. Can Catholic feminism survive?

Julie Hanlon Rubio argues that it can. But if it is going to do so, it is necessary to rethink how women and men who experience the pull of feminism and Catholicism can credibly claim both identities. In Can You Be a Catholic and a Feminist? Rubio argues that Catholic feminist identity is only tenable if we frankly acknowledge tensions between Catholicism and feminism, bring forward shared concerns, and embrace the future with ambiguity and creativity. Rubio explores the potential for synergy and dialogue between Catholics and feminists through various lenses, including sexual violence, gender theory, pregnancy and pre-natal loss, work-life balance, relationships and family life, spirituality, conscience, and what it means to be human. This book gives those who struggle to balance Catholicism and feminism a credible path to authentic belonging.
Learn more about Can You Be a Catholic and a Feminist? at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Can You Be a Catholic and a Feminist?.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top works of historical fiction

At Vogue Mia Barzilay Freund tagged ten "of the best historical fiction books of the last several decades," including:
Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

Brisk and engaging, this 2014 novel invites readers to the set of a popular sitcom in 1960s London. Hometown beauty queen Barbara Parker is plucked from obscurity and rebranded as Sophie Straw, the star of the BBC’s latest hit comedy. Hoping to channel her hero Lucille Ball, Sophie navigates newfound funny-girl fame with an amusing group: two bantering TV writers, an admiring producer, and a self-absorbed costar. With humor and sensitivity, Hornby brings out the color and chaos of TV comedy and the unusual people it throws together.
Read about another entry on the list.

Funny Girl is among Brian Boone's five favorite literary crushes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Q&A with Sarah Beth Durst

From my Q&A with Sarah Beth Durst, author of The Lies Among Us: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The Lies Among Us is quite literally about the lies among us. When Hannah looks at the world, she sees it overlaid with the physical manifestations of the lies we tell one another and ourselves. A toxic sludge spills from the TV while a politician speaks. A shadowy convertible that no one ever owned speeds past her on the highway. The house she grew up in -- when she looks at it, she sees a cheerful two-story yellow house with white shutters, a porch swing, and pink azaleas. Her sister, Leah, sees a drab one-story beige house with peeling paint and a yard full of junk.

Hannah herself cannot be seen or heard by anyone, and in the wake of her mother's death, she struggles to reach out to a sister who will not -- and cannot -- acknowledge her.

It's about sisterhood, grief, and the...[read on]
Visit Sara Beth Durst's website.

Q&A with Sarah Beth Durst.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Robert Shea Terrell's "A Nation Fermented"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A Nation Fermented: Beer, Bavaria, and the Making of Modern Germany by Robert Shea Terrell.

About the book, from the publisher:
How did beer become one of the central commodities associated with the German nation? How did a little-known provincial production standard – the Reinheitsgebot, or Beer Purity Law – become a pillar of national consumer sentiments? How did the jovial, beer-drinking German become a fixture in the global imagination?

While the connection between beer and Germany seems self-evident, A Nation Fermented reveals how it was produced through a strange brew of regional commercial and political pressures. Spanning from the late nineteenth century to the last decades of the twentieth, A Nation Fermented argues that the economic, regulatory, and cultural weight of Bavaria shaped the German nation in profound ways. Drawing on sources from over a dozen archives and repositories, Terrell weaves together subjects ranging from tax law to advertising, public health to European integration, and agriculture to global stereotypes.

Offering a history of the Germany that Bavaria made over the twentieth century, A Nation Fermented eschews both sharp temporal divisions and a conventional focus on northern and industrial Germany. In so doing, Terrell offers a fresh take on the importance of provincial influences and the role of commodities and commerce in shaping the nation.
Learn more about A Nation Fermented at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: A Nation Fermented.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five novels of generational wealth & income inequality

Glenn R. Miller launched his professional career by working on television soap operas and game shows on the back lots of NBC Burbank. He holds a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and has served as a CBS-affiliate news producer, public television producer, and creative director at production agencies within the Twin Cities. He and his wife live in Minneapolis and are the parents of two grown sons.

Miller's new novel is Doorman Wanted.

At Lit Hub he tagged five old and new titles which thoughtfully explore generational wealth and income inequality, including:
Jenny Jackson, Pineapple Street

Often accompanying extreme wealth are privilege and entitlement, two qualities that may or may not be worn comfortably by the wearer. In Pineapple Street, author Jenny Jackson’s delightful debut novel, those qualities are approached from different angles by three members of the Stocktons, an old money family from Brooklyn Heights.

Not unlike Sweeney’s The Nest, Jackson’s characters affectionately refer to the source of their wealth as “the limestone.” When an object or concept occupies so much of one’s thoughts and energy, it often deserves a name. The source of wealth in Pineapple Street stems from the New York City real estate game, an occupation that Americans, for better or worse, have learned a great deal about in recent years.

The story centers around the idealistic and prenuptial-spurning daughter, Darley, and the somewhat naïve youngest daughter, Georgiana. Those are two of the privileges of extreme wealth: aggressive idealism and oblivious naivete. The rich are, indeed, different from you and me.

An inheritance, whether in hand or impending, is oftentimes distorting, in both one’s outlook on the world as well as the world’s regard of that person. Accomplishments can be diminished because of status and entitlement; introspection can become navel-gazing; and opportunities for growth, education, and travel can be resented by others. But in these days of extreme wealth and a gilded-age redux, woe to the fictional character who seeks sympathy or is presented as heroic. In the case of the former, we’re not in the mood; in the latter, those days are behind us.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 29, 2024

Pg. 69: María Alejandra Barrios Vélez's "The Waves Take You Home"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Waves Take You Home: A Novel by María Alejandra Barrios Vélez.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this heartfelt story about how the places we run from hold the answers to our deepest challenges, the death of her grandmother brings a young woman home, where she must face the past in order to become the heir of not just the family restaurant, but her own destiny.

Violeta Sanoguera had always done what she was told. She left the man she loved in Colombia in pursuit of a better life for herself and because her mother and grandmother didn’t approve of him. Chasing dreams of education and art in New York City, and with a new love, twenty-eight-year-old Violeta establishes a new life for herself, on her terms. But when her grandmother suddenly dies, everything changes.

After years of being on her own in NYC, Violeta finds herself on a plane back to Colombia, accompanied at all times by the ghost of her grandmother who is sending her messages and signs, to find she is the heir of the failing family restaurant, the very one Abuela told her to run from in the first place. The journey leads her to rediscover her home, her grandmother, and even the flame of an old love.
Visit María Alejandra Barrios Vélez's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Waves Take You Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: David Stefan Doddington's "Old Age and American Slavery"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Old Age and American Slavery by David Stefan Doddington.

About the book, from the publisher:
Old Age and American Slavery explores how antebellum southerners, Black and white, adapted to, resisted, or failed to overcome changes associated with old age, both real and imagined. Slavery was a system of economic exploitation and a contested site of personal domination, both of which were affected by concerns with age. In examining how individuals, families, and communities felt about the aging process and dealt with elders, David Stefan Doddington emphasizes the complex social relations that developed in a slave society. In connecting old age to the arguments of Black activists, abolitionists, enslavers, and their propagandists, the book reveals how representations of old age, and experiences of aging, spoke to wider struggles relating to mastery, paternalism, resistance, and survival in slavery. The book asks us to rethink long-standing narratives relating to networks of solidarity in the American South and it illuminates the violent and exploitative nature of American slavery.
Learn more about Old Age and American Slavery at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Old Age and American Slavery.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books about social media

Aneesa Ahmed is a 2022/23 recipient of the Scott Trust bursary.

At the Guardian she tagged five "titles that explore how we consume, share, and manipulate information on social media platforms." One book on the list:
TikTok Boom by Chris Stokel-Walker

TikTok is arguably one of the most significant advancements in social media in the past two decades. This book by journalist and writer Chris Stokel-Walker explores how the app is changing the way users interact with content. It moves away from the social-commentary style of the other books mentioned here, instead using business and technology analysis as a means to describe wider socio-political repercussions of the app. Stokel-Walker bridges the gap between the digital and the physical, showing the feedback loop that exists between what happens online on platforms such as TikTok and the real world.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Q&A with Sami Ellis

From my Q&A with Sami Ellis, author of Dead Girls Walking: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I am very much a speculative fiction author, and I love, love, loved getting the chance to play around with death in a Friday the 13th-type camp story. Thus, and this is probably a spoiler to some, Dead Girls Walking as a title is quite literal. The girls are dead - and somehow, they are also walking. Gasp!

What's in a name?

The name Temple Baker came to me in full. I usually have to mix and match different names that are familiar to me (there are lots of “Imani’s” in my notebooks), but the original title for Dead Girls Walking was Temple Baker the Badass. I hated the title, but the name itself stuck - and if you read the book, you'll find that that's not all there is to...[read on]
Visit Sami Ellis's website.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Girls Walking.

Q&A with Sami Ellis.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Neil Gong's "Sons, Daughters, and Sidewalk Psychotics"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Sons, Daughters, and Sidewalk Psychotics: Mental Illness and Homelessness in Los Angeles by Neil Gong.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sociologist Neil Gong explains why mental health treatment in Los Angeles rarely succeeds, for the rich, the poor, and everyone in between.

In 2022, Los Angeles became the US county with the largest population of unhoused people, drawing a stark contrast with the wealth on display in its opulent neighborhoods. In Sons, Daughters, and Sidewalk Psychotics, sociologist Neil Gong traces the divide between the haves and have-nots in the psychiatric treatment systems that shape the life trajectories of people living with serious mental illness. In the decades since the United States closed its mental hospitals in favor of non-institutional treatment, two drastically different forms of community psychiatric services have developed: public safety-net clinics focused on keeping patients housed and out of jail, and elite private care trying to push clients toward respectable futures.

In Downtown Los Angeles, many people in psychiatric crisis only receive help after experiencing homelessness or arrests. Public providers engage in guerrilla social work to secure them housing and safety, but these programs are rarely able to deliver true rehabilitation for psychological distress and addiction. Patients are free to refuse treatment or use illegal drugs—so long as they do so away from public view.

Across town in West LA or Malibu, wealthy people diagnosed with serious mental illness attend luxurious treatment centers. Programs may offer yoga and organic meals alongside personalized therapeutic treatments, but patients can feel trapped, as their families pay exorbitantly to surveil and “fix” them. Meanwhile, middle-class families—stymied by private insurers, unable to afford elite providers, and yet not poor enough to qualify for social services—struggle to find care at all.

Gong’s findings raise uncomfortable questions about urban policy, family dynamics, and what it means to respect individual freedom. His comparative approach reminds us that every “sidewalk psychotic” is also a beloved relative and that the kinds of policies we support likely depend on whether we see those with mental illness as a public social problem or as somebody’s kin. At a time when many voters merely want streets cleared of “problem people,” Gong’s book helps us imagine a fundamentally different psychiatric system—one that will meet the needs of patients, families, and society at large.
Visit Neil Gong's website.

The Page 99 Test: Sons, Daughters, and Sidewalk Psychotics.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven novels about unconventional serial killers

Joanna Wallace studied law before working as a commercial litigation solicitor in London. She now runs a family business and lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, four children, and two dogs. She was partly inspired to write You’d Look Better as a Ghost, her debut, following her father’s diagnosis of early onset dementia.

At Electric Lit she considered:
seven books that have introduced us to unforgettable characters and pose the question—why do we find these serial killers so likeable? (And what does that say about us?)
One title on the list:
Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

As readers, we warm to serial killer Dexter Morgan in Jeff Lindsay’s series of books, because we know we’d be safe around him, wouldn’t we? After all, Dexter only goes after the bad guys who do terrible things, and this is part of his appeal. We agree with his assessment of other people and appreciate his wit and the peculiar logic to his code of ethics. Plus, he’s intelligent and good at his job as a forensic blood splatter analyst, and he treats both the women in his life—his adoptive sister and his girlfriend, with respect. I think we like him because when he’s not killing bad people, Dexter is extremely charming.
Read about another entry on the list.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter is among Elizabeth Heiter's top ten serial killer novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Pg. 69: Addison McKnight's "The Vineyard Remains"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Vineyard Remains: A Novel by Addison McKnight.

About the book, from the publisher:
Two women, brought together by tragedy, strive to find themselves on Martha’s Vineyard. But it’s not easy to heal old wounds in a powerful novel about family, secrets, motherhood, and the cold grip of the past.

A desperate murder committed by Angela Miller’s mother tore Angela’s life apart and brought her to Martha’s Vineyard to live with her wealthy grandparents. It’s where her cousin, Kiki King, was born and raised, and Kiki now wants nothing more than to see the world beyond its sandy perimeter. Kiki’s mother escaped it. She took a late-night swim off Tashmoo Beach and was never seen again.

Once bound by broken childhoods, Angela and Kiki have grown up divided―by their obsessions, their love for the same man, and their own conflicted journeys of motherhood. But when a small box of bones is unearthed in the woods, Angela and Kiki discover there’s so much more to learn about each other, their families, and the dark side of the picturesque island they call home.

It’s time for Angela and Kiki to expose their secrets, to finally end a cycle of family drama and anguish, and to forgive and make peace with the past on their own terms.
Visit Addison McKnight's website.

The Page 69 Test: An Imperfect Plan.

The Page 69 Test: The Vineyard Remains.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Amin Ghaziani's "Long Live Queer Nightlife"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Long Live Queer Nightlife: How the Closing of Gay Bars Sparked a Revolution by Amin Ghaziani.

About the book, from the publisher:
It’s closing time for an alarming number of gay bars in cities around the globe—but it’s definitely not the last dance

In this exhilarating journey into underground parties, pulsating with life and limitless possibility, acclaimed author Amin Ghaziani unveils the unexpected revolution revitalizing urban nightlife.

Far from the gay bar with its largely white, gay male clientele, here is a dazzling scene of secret parties—club nights—wherein culture creatives, many of whom are queer, trans, and racial minorities, reclaim the night in the name of those too long left out. Episodic, nomadic, and radically inclusive, club nights are refashioning queer nightlife in boundlessly imaginative and powerfully defiant ways.

Drawing on Ghaziani’s immersive encounters at underground parties in London and more than one hundred riveting interviews with everyone from bar owners to party producers, revelers to rabble-rousers, Long Live Queer Nightlife showcases a spectacular, if seldom-seen, vision of a queer world shimmering with self-empowerment, inventiveness, and joy.
Visit Amin Ghaziani's website.

The Page 99 Test: Long Live Queer Nightlife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five mysteries & thrillers with a reality TV twist

Heather Gudenkauf is the Edgar Award nominated, New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of ten novels including Everyone Is Watching, out this week. Her debut novel, The Weight of Silence, was an instant New York Times bestseller and remained on the list for 22 weeks. Gudenkauf’s critically acclaimed novels have been published in over 20 countries and have been included in many Best Of lists including Seven Thrillers to Read This Summer by the New York Times, The 10 Best Thrillers and Mysteries of 2017 by The Washington Post, Amazon Best Book of 2022, GoodReads Most Anticipated Mysteries of 2022.

[Coffee with a Canine: Heather Gudenkauf and MaxineCoffee with a Canine: Heather Gudenkauf & LoloMy Book, The Movie: Not A SoundThe Page 69 Test: Not A SoundWriters Read: Heather Gudenkauf (April 2019)The Page 69 Test: Before She Was FoundThe Page 69 Test: This Is How I LiedThe Page 69 Test: The Overnight GuestQ&A with Heather Gudenkauf]

At CrimeReads the author tagged "five mysteries and thrillers that put the thrill in books with a reality TV twist," including:
The Last One by Alexandra Oliva

When twelve contestants sign up for a reality competition series entitled The Woods, they are dropped off in the middle of nowhere to face a series of challenges and are pushed to the edge – physically and mentally. Immediately, the game takes a deadly turn, and one of the show’s producers, Zoo, lost and isolated from the others, has to sift through what’s real and what has been manufactured for ratings. Navigating dangerous terrain and an unknown enemy, Zoo has only her wits to rely on if there’s any hope for survival.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Last One is among Molly Odintz's seven crime novels that engage with reality TV and Heather Chavez's seven novels where fun & games threaten to turn fatal.

The Page 69 Test: The Last One.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Sami Ellis's "Dead Girls Walking," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Dead Girls Walking: A Novel by Sami Ellis.

About the book, from the publisher:
It's not easy to cast a YA book because actors can often be - frankly, old. It's so common that it's a meme at this point, thirty-somethings playing high schoolers. So, unfortunately, I don't have a real actor in mind.

However, while I was revising Dead Girls Walking, I did hold one particular performance close to my heart. Gabrielle Union's performance in Deliver Us from Eva is funny, vulnerable, and scathing all at once. She's the angry girl with a soft core, gorgeous smile, and unshakable principles that is somehow both effortlessly likeable and mean as a snake. Watching the film, you can see exactly why everybody hates her - but I didn't.

Temple's spirit came from that very performance. I wanted to get that voice right, someone who's vengeful and quippy all at once, full of one-liners and mirth...but will cut you if you piss her off.

If you read Dead Girls Walking, you will absolutely see the similarities between the two women. They're both...[read on]
Visit Sami Ellis's website.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Girls Walking.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: George G. Szpiro's "Perplexing Paradoxes"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Perplexing Paradoxes: Unraveling Enigmas in the World Around Us by George G. Szpiro.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why does it always seem like the elevator is going down when you need to go up? Is it really true that 0.99999 . . . with an infinite number of 9s after the decimal point, is equal to 1? What do tea leaves and river erosion have in common, per Albert Einstein? Does seeing a bed of red flowers help prove that all ravens are black? Can we make sense of a phrase like “this statement is unprovable”?

Exploring these questions and many more, George G. Szpiro guides readers through the puzzling world of paradoxes, from Socratic dialogues to the Monty Hall problem. Perplexing Paradoxes presents sixty counterintuitive conundrums drawn from diverse areas of thought―not only mathematics, statistics, logic, and philosophy but also social science, physics, politics, and religion. Szpiro offers a brisk history of each paradox, unpacks its inner workings, and considers where one might encounter it in daily life. Ultimately, he argues, paradoxes are not simple brain teasers or abstruse word games―they challenge us to hone our reasoning and become more alert to the flaws in received wisdom and common habits of thought.

Lighthearted, witty, and conversational, Perplexing Paradoxes presents sophisticated material in an accessible way for all readers interested in the world’s boundless possibilities―and impossibilities.
Visit George G. Szpiro's website.

The Page 99 Test: Perplexing Paradoxes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top bunny books

The Zoomer Book Club's Nathalie Atkinson tagged eight books with a connection to the "rabbit, a symbol of feminine power, [which] arguably has connections to creativity, resistance and survival." One title on the list:
RABBITS FOR FOOD by Binnie Kirshenbaum

This engrossing bestseller from 2019 chronicles the breakdown of the lead character, Bunny, into institutionalization, beginning on New Year’s Eve. In the psych ward, she refuses treatment and instead chronicles the goings-on around her and somehow writes her way out of it. Over the course of the story, the author – a creative writing professor in New York City – manages to make the harrowing descent into clinical depression hilarious.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Rabbits for Food.

The Page 69 Test: Rabbits for Food.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 25, 2024

Q&A with Heather Gudenkauf

From my Q&A with Heather Gudenkauf, author of Everyone Is Watching: A Locked-Room Thriller:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I think the title, Everyone Is Watching, is a sneaky teaser into what the novel is about. It begs the reader to ask the following questions: Who is being watched? Who is doing the watching and why? Readers quickly learn that the story centers around five strangers who travel to an isolated location to take part in a high-stakes competition reality series for a chance to win ten million dollars. And to make things even more interesting, the show is...[read on]
Visit Heather Gudenkauf's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Heather Gudenkauf and Maxine.

Coffee with a Canine: Heather Gudenkauf & Lolo.

My Book, The Movie: Not A Sound.

The Page 69 Test: Not A Sound.

Writers Read: Heather Gudenkauf (April 2019).

The Page 69 Test: Before She Was Found.

The Page 69 Test: This Is How I Lied.

The Page 69 Test: The Overnight Guest.

Q&A with Heather Gudenkauf.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Felicia B. George's "When Detroit Played the Numbers"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: When Detroit Played the Numbers: Gambling's History and Cultural Impact on the Motor City by Felicia B. George.

About the book, from the publisher:
A testament to the tenacious spirit embodied in Detroit culture and history, this account reveals how numbers gambling, initially an illegal enterprise, became a community resource and institution of solidarity for Black communities through times of racial disenfranchisement and labor instability. Author Felicia B. George sheds light on the lives of Detroit's numbers operators―many self-made entrepreneurs who overcame poverty and navigated the pitfalls of racism and capitalism by both legal and illegal means. Illegal lottery operators and their families and employees were often exposed to precarity and other adverse conditions, and they profited from their neighbors' hope to make it through another day. Despite scandal and exploitation, these operators and their families also became important members of the community, providing steady employment and financial support for local businesses. This book provides a glimpse into the rich culture and history of Detroit's Black Bottom and Paradise Valley neighborhoods, linking the growing gambling scene there with key characters and moments in local history, including Joe Louis's rise to fame and the recall of a mayor backed by the Ku Klux Klan. In succinct and engrossing chapters, George explores issues of community, race, politics, and the scandals that sprang up along the way, discovering how "playing the numbers" grew from a state-proclaimed crime to an encouraged legal activity.
Learn more about When Detroit Played the Numbers at the Wayne State University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: When Detroit Played the Numbers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top stories of robot-human relationships

Sierra Greer grew up in Minnesota before attending Williams College and Johns Hopkins University. A former high school English teacher, she writes about the future from her home in rural Connecticut.

Greer's new novel is Annie Bot.

At Lit Hub she tagged seven "novels and stories [in which] authors delve into personal relationships between humans and A.I. consciousnesses that may or may not inhabit bodies. Themes of loneliness, love, personhood, and power are inescapable." One title on the list:
Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun

Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro’s tender, elegant masterpiece relates the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend who is selected by Josie, a gravely ill human girl to be her companion. As Josie declines, Klara makes a deal with the sun, whom she worships, trying to save Josie. An engaging unreliable narrator, Klara is keenly observant and idealistic. She seems doomed to be disappointed, but the losses and connections in this novel are impossible to predict correctly.

Understated and beautifully written, this dystopian novel explores loneliness, loyalty, and a transcendent form of innocence.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Pg. 69: Karen Rose Smith's "Murder Marks the Page"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Murder Marks the Page by Karen Rose Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first in a new series spun off from the Daisy Tea Garden Mysteries, Daisy’s daughter Jazzi Swanson has opened her own book and tea shop, providing a variety of literature and flavored beverages for a rural New York community. But Jazzi has not only inherited her mother’s gift for brewing tasty drinks—she also has a nose for sniffing out murder.

New York State’s Belltower Landing is a lakeside resort town where tourists spend their summer days boating, floating, and paddle-boarding on the water. It’s also the perfect place to cuddle up with a good book and enjoy a cup of tea, courtesy of Tomes & Tea. Owned and operated by Jazzi and her best friend Dawn Fernsby, the book bar is beloved by vacationers and locals alike, but browsers grabbing brews in the off season aren’t enough to help them make ends meet.

Between brainstorming social media publicity ideas for the shop and fending off flirtatious men she has no interest in or time for, Jazzi befriends a woman named Brie who has recently made contact with her biological father. As an adopted child herself, Jazzi is more than happy to give Brie emotional support, especially as her wealthy father’s wife and children see her as a threat.

But Brie is also looking to start a family of her own. Unfortunately, all the potential princes she’s met through a dating app turn out to be frogs. Then, when Brie is found murdered, Jazzi finds herself playing detective. With a list of suspects ranging from jealous half-siblings to less-than-suitable suitors, Jazzi may need to consult some of her shop’s bestselling mysteries to help her uncover a killer...
Visit Karen Rose Smith's website, Facebook page, and Instagram page.

Coffee with a Canine: Karen Rose Smith & Hope and Riley.

The Page 69 Test: Staged to Death.

The Page 69 Test: Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes.

The Page 69 Test: Murder Marks the Page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Rachel S. Gross's "Shopping All the Way to the Woods"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Shopping All the Way to the Woods: How the Outdoor Industry Sold Nature to America by Rachel S. Gross.

About the book, from the publisher:
A fascinating history of the profitable paradox of the American outdoor experience: visiting nature first requires shopping

No escape to nature is complete without a trip to an outdoor recreational store or a browse through online offerings. This is the irony of the American outdoor experience: visiting wild spaces supposedly untouched by capitalism first requires shopping. With consumers spending billions of dollars on clothing and equipment each year as they seek out nature, the American outdoor sector grew over the past 150 years from a small collection of outfitters to an industry contributing more than 2 percent of the nation’s economic output.

Rachel S. Gross argues that this success was predicated not just on creating functional equipment but also on selling an authentic, anticommercial outdoor identity. In other words, shopping for the woods was also about being—or becoming—the right kind of person. Demonstrating that outdoor culture is commercial culture, Gross examines Americans’ journey toward outdoor expertise by tracing the development of the nascent outdoor goods industry, the influence of World War II on its growth, and the boom years of outdoor businesses.
Visit Rachel S. Gross's website.

The Page 99 Test: Shopping All the Way to the Woods.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven books that show storytelling has consequences

Toby Lloyd was born in London to a secular father and a Jewish mother. He studied English at Oxford University before moving to America to pursue an MFA in creative writing at NYU. He has published short stories and essays in Carve Magazine and the Los Angeles Review of Books and was longlisted for the 2021 V. S. Pritchett Short Story Prize. He lives in London.

Lloyd's new novel is Fervor.

At Electric Lit he tagged seven "novels and memoirs that reveal truths (or untruths) that were better left unsaid." One title on the list:
Yellowface by R. F. Kuang

The morality of portraying a minority group in fiction also animates Kuang’s novel, Yellowface, though here the group in question is Asian Americans rather than Jews. And, crucially, the author who takes credit for having written the novel within a novel isn’t a member of the group. When Juniper Hayward steals her dead friend Athena Liu’s manuscript to edit and publish as her own novel, she tells herself she isn’t doing anything really wrong. The manuscript as Liu left it was in no fit state to publish, and she only means to give it the final polish required to let the book outlive its author. However, once she has started lying about the manuscript’s provenance, she finds herself heading rapidly down a track she cannot turn off. Soon, both June and Athena’s reputations are dragged through the mud, with accusations of colonial plundering and internalized racism thrown at each of them.
Read about another entry on the list.

Yellowface is among Sophie Wan's seven top titles with women behaving badly, Leah Konen's six top friends-to-frenemies thrillers, and Garnett Cohen's seven novels about characters driven by their cravings.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Third reading: D.W. Buffa on The World of Theodore H. White, Pt. 2

D.W. Buffa's latest novel is Lunatic Carnival, the tenth legal thriller involving the defense attorney Joseph Antonelli. He has also published a series that attempts to trace the movement of western thought from ancient Athens, in Helen; the end of the Roman Empire, in Julian's Laughter; the Renaissance, in The Autobiography of Niccolo Machiavelli; and, most recently, America in the twentieth century, in Neumann's Last Concert.

Buffa writes a monthly review for the Campaign for the American Reader that we're calling "Third Reading." Buffa explains. "I was reading something and realized that it was probably the third time that I knew it well enough to write something about it. The first is when I read it when I was in college or in my twenties, the second, however many years later, when I wanted to see if it was as good as I remembered, and the third when I knew I was going to have to write about it."

Part II of Buffa's "Third Reading" of Theodore H. White's The Making of the President series begins:
In 1964, Lyndon Johnson won the Presidency in a landslide against Barry Goldwater, with more than 61 percent of the vote. Four years later, in 1968, Richard Nixon was elected President of the United States with only 43.4 percent of the vote, and yet, according to Theodore H. White, Nixon’s election was also a landslide, a negative landslide, the first one in American history. Adding the vote for George Wallace, an extreme conservative, to that of Nixon, a traditional conservative, the conservative vote against Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic candidate, was 56.9 percent. What had happened?

The war in Vietnam had happened. What became known as the Tet offensive, had broken “the confidence of the American people in their government, their institutions, their leadership….” The enemy “had astounded the world with a force, a fury, a battlefield presence that gave the lie to all that America has been told for months,” that America was winning the war. It is one of the ironies of history that the Tet offensive had been “a complete failure,” with a third of the enemy forces killed, and none of its objectives achieved, but failure on the battlefield was a victory in the domestic politics of the United States.

Opposition to the war was led by university students, a group that had become, in White’s description, “the largest working-class group with a single interest in the United States - or any other country.” There had been 1,350,000 college students in l939; there were 6,900,000 in 1968. Political compromise, the idea that it takes time to change things, was seen by university students as nothing more than an “excuse for postponing the inevitable, for denying the truth. If a certain goal is accepted by the best thinking as an unchallenged good, why cannot it be made real now?” What was considered the “best thinking” was itself a reflection of a remarkable revision, and sometimes an outright rejection, of traditional values. “On stage, on screen, in letters,” American intellectuals “created a world without heroes.” The “new avant-garde has come to despise its own country and its traditions as has rarely happened in any community in the world; American institutions, customs and laws are regarded as the greatest system of restraint on that individual self-expression which it sees the highest right of man.”

Free from all restraint, and appalled by what the future seemed to offer, American students mobilized against the war. Convinced that the war would not be ended so long as Lyndon Johnson was still President, the question was who among the Democratic politicians who opposed the war would be willing to challenge him for the Democratic nomination....[read on]
Visit D.W. Buffa's website.

Third reading: The Great Gatsby

Third reading: Brave New World.

Third reading: Lord Jim.

Third reading: Death in the Afternoon.

Third Reading: Parade's End.

Third Reading: The Idiot.

Third Reading: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Third Reading: The Scarlet Letter.

Third Reading: Justine.

Third Reading: Patriotic Gore.

Third reading: Anna Karenina.

Third reading: The Charterhouse of Parma.

Third Reading: Emile.

Third Reading: War and Peace.

Third Reading: The Sorrows of Young Werther.

Third Reading: Bread and Wine.

Third Reading: “The Crisis of the Mind” and A Man Without Qualities.

Third reading: Eugene Onegin.

Third Reading: The Collected Works of Thomas Babington Macaulay.

Third Reading: The Europeans.

Third Reading: The House of Mirth and The Writing of Fiction.

Third Reading: Doctor Faustus.

Third Reading: the reading list of John F. Kennedy.

Third Reading: Jorge Luis Borges.

Third Reading: History of the Peloponnesian War.

Third Reading: Mansfield Park.

Third Reading: To Each His Own.

Third Reading: A Passage To India.

Third Reading: Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Third Reading: The Letters of T.E. Lawrence.

Third Reading: All The King’s Men.

Third Reading: The Roman History of Ammianus Marcellinus.

Third Reading: Naguib Mahfouz’s novels of ancient Egypt.

Third Reading: Main Street.

Third Reading: Theodore H. White's The Making of the President series, part I.

Third Reading: Theodore H. White's The Making of the President series, part II.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jessica Carey-Webb's "Eyes on Amazonia"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Eyes on Amazonia: Transnational Perspectives on the Rubber Boom Frontier by Jessica Carey-Webb.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Amazon extends across nine countries, encompasses forty percent of South America, and hosts four European languages and more than three hundred Indigenous languages and cultures. Eyes on Amazonia is a fascinating exploration of how Latin American, European, and US intellectuals imagined and represented the Amazon region during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This multifaceted study, which draws on a range of literary and nonliterary texts and visual sources, examines the complex ways that race, gender, mobility, empire, modernity, and personal identity have indelibly shaped how the region was and is seen. In doing so, the book argues that representations of the Amazon as a region in need of the civilizing influence of colonialism and modernization served to legitimize and justify imperial control.

Eyes on Amazonia operates in cultural geography, ecocriticism, and visual cultural analysis. The diverse and intriguing documents and images examined in this book capture the modernizing project of this region at a crucial juncture in its long history: the early twentieth-century rubber boom.
Learn more about Eyes on Amazonia at the Vanderbilt University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Eyes on Amazonia.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four mysteries & thrillers that show the power of siblings

Margot Douaihy is the author of the lyrical crime novel Scorched Grace, which was named a Best Crime Novel of 2023 by The New York Times, The Guardian, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, CrimeReads, and BookPage, and one of the most anticipated crime books of the year by THEM and LGBTQ Reads. The second book in the Sister Holiday Mystery series, Blessed Water, was named a most anticipated crime book by BookRiot and Apple Books. She is also the author of Bandit/Queen: The Runaway Story of Belle Starr, a true-crime poetry project, and Scranton Lace, a documentary poetry collection about a lace factory.

At CrimeReads Douaihy tagged "four novels [that] show us how sibling relationships can be much more than backdrops or backstories in crime fiction, supercharging narratives with primal terror and emotional range." One title on the list:
Like a Sister

Kellye Garrett’s Like a Sister is a gold-standard. This sensational mystery rages with wisdom, heart, wit, exceptional plotting, and urgency. The novel is centered around Lena Scott’s quest to unearth the truth of the awful death of her half-sister’s death, Desiree Pierce, a reality TV star who was found dead in a playground. Garrett brilliantly juxtaposes Lena’s personal quest with a broader commentary on media’s insidiousness, race, and societal occlusions, crafting a narrative that’s as exigent and alert as it is gripping. The sibling dynamic here is the guiding force that drives the story through grief, deception, and injustice. It’s electrified by the spirit of women bound by blood and driven by a hunt for truth. Like a Sister defines the contemporary mystery canon; it is a must-read for every crime fiction fan.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 22, 2024

Q&A with Joanna Goodman

From my Q&A with Joanna Goodman, author of The Inheritance: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I always write my novels with a “working title” that never makes it to publication. Once the novel is complete, the real title inevitably reveals itself to me. With The Inheritance, my original working title was The Gold diggers. I meant that to be tongue-in-cheek, since the novel is about a mother and daughter’s decades-long battle to inherit from her billionaire father, who died intestate. Because Arden was his illegitimate daughter, the courtroom drama spans from the early eighties to the present, thrusting them into the spotlight and making them vulnerable to being seen as scammers and gold diggers.

Just before the book came out, I changed the title to When We’re Millionaires, which I felt catapulted the reader into the heart of the book’s theme, which is the idea of life being on hold while we chase down our goals, as opposed to actually living in the present. (When I lose ten pounds. When I have a New York Times Bestseller. When we inherit millions…)

All the characters in The Inheritance are in a kind of purgatory as they wait year after year, decade after decade, for this money to come in. I loved the idea of exploring how Virginia, the mother, would hand down that legacy to her daughter - well intentioned, but is it the right choice?

In the end, The Inheritance best captured the soul of the book in its entirety, from the literal courtroom inheritance case to the idea of...[read on]
Visit Joanna Goodman's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Inheritance.

My Book, The Movie: The Inheritance.

Q&A with Joanna Goodman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jeffrey E. Anderson's "Voodoo: An African American Religion"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Voodoo: An African American Religion by Jeffrey E. Anderson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Despite several decades of scholarship on African diasporic religion, Voodoo remains underexamined, and the few books published on the topic contain inaccuracies and outmoded arguments. In Voodoo: An African American Religion, Jeffrey E. Anderson presents a much-needed modern account of the faith as it existed in the Mississippi River valley from colonial times to the mid-twentieth century, when, he argues, it ceased to thrive as a living tradition.

Anderson provides a solid scholarly foundation for future work by systematizing the extant information on a religion that has long captured the popular imagination as it has simultaneously engendered fear and ridicule. His book stands as the most complete study of the faith yet produced and rests on more than two decades of research, utilizing primary source material alongside the author’s own field studies in New Orleans, Haiti, Cuba, Senegal, Benin, Togo, and the Republic of Congo. The result serves as an enduring resource on Mississippi River valley Voodoo, Louisiana, and the greater African Diaspora.
Learn more about Voodoo: An African American Religion at the LSU Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Voodoo: An African American Religion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books about the Victorians

Kathryn Hughes is emerita professor of life writing at the University of East Anglia and a literary critic for The Guardian. She is the author of Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum and George Eliot: The Last Victorian.

Her latest book is Catland: Louis Wain and the Great Cat Mania.

At the Guardian Hughes tagged "five of the best books that track how the Victorians gradually unravelled and learned to let loose." One title on the list:
The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles (1969)

The plot of this novel – hailed as “postmodern” before anyone was quite sure what it meant – follows all the beats of a classic Victorian romance. Charles Smithson is engaged to insipid Ernestina but falls in love with Sarah Woodruff, a mysterious figure who combines two mandatory 19th-century figures in being both a governess and a fallen woman. Woodruff is also partial to walking along the Cobb at Lyme Regis, a place that features heavily in Jane Austen’s last novel, Persuasion – nothing happens by chance in this meta-fictional universe. Famously, Fowles offers two plot endings, one happy and one sad, and invites the reader to take their pick.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue