Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Ten top modern Nordic books

At the Guardian, Icelandic novelist Sjón tagged ten essential books from the far north, including:
Novel 11, Book 18 by Dag Solstad (translated by Sverre Lyngstad)

If there is a motto to the books I have read by Solstad, it is: “We are born to embarrass ourselves before our destruction.” Here we follow the slow but sure decline of one Bjørn Hansen who leaves his wife and infant son for life in a small town where he becomes involved in amateur theatre, with all its petty in-fighting and jealousy. When his son turns up 18 years later, things take a darker turn.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Nikki Katz's "The Midnight Dance"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz.

About the book, from the publisher:
Set against the fascinating and moody backdrop of a mysterious boarding school, this intricately crafted novel is filled with magical realism, gothic settings, and the perfect hint of romance.

Seventeen-year-old Penny is a lead dancer at the Grande Teatro, a finishing school where she and eleven other young women are training to become the finest ballerinas in Italy. Tucked deep in the woods, the school is overseen by the mysterious and handsome young Master, who keeps the girls ensconced in the estate – and in the only life Penny has ever known.

But when flashes of memories – memories of a life very different from the one she thinks she’s been leading – start to appear, Penny begins to question the Grande Teatro and the motivations of Master. With a kind and attractive kitchen boy, Cricket, at her side, Penny vows to escape the confines of her school and the strict rules that dictate every step she takes. But at every turn, Master finds a way to stop her, and Penny must uncover the secrets of her past before it’s too late.
Visit Nikki Katz's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Midnight Dance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fifty books that will make you a modern-day polymath

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged fifty books that will prepare you to discuss just about anything with the confidence of an expert, including:
A History of God, by Karen Armstrong

What You’ll Learn: How the modern religions of the world evolved.

One thing most folks don’t think on much is religion. It’s either whatever you inherited from your parents, or it’s not a part of your life at all. Become an expert in the historic truth behind the major religions, and it’ll either enhance your sense of faith, or give you factual arguments against it. Your choice, as god intended.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 16, 2017

Pg. 99: Abeer Y. Hoque's "Olive Witch"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Olive Witch: A Memoir by Abeer Y. Hoque.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the 1970s, Nigeria is flush with oil money, building new universities, and hanging on to old colonial habits. Abeer Hoque is a Bangladeshi girl growing up in a small sunlit town, where the red clay earth, corporal punishment and running games are facts of life. At thirteen she moves with her family to suburban Pittsburgh and finds herself surrounded by clouded skies and high schoolers who speak in movie quotes and pop culture slang. Finding her place as a young woman in America proves more difficult than she can imagine. Disassociated from her parents, and laid low by academic pressure and spiralling depression, she is committed to a psychiatric ward in Philadelphia. When she moves to Bangladesh on her own, it proves to be yet another beginning for someone who is only just getting used to being an outsider - wherever she is. Arresting and beautifully written, with poems and weather conditions framing each chapter, Olive Witch is an intimate memoir about taking the long way home.
Learn more about the book and author at Abeer Y. Hoque's website.

The Page 99 Test: Olive Witch.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Tracey Neithercott reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tracey Neithercott, author of Gray Wolf Island.

Her entry begins:
I usually read five to 10 books each month, but September has been odd. With massive day job deadlines and my debut novel about to release, I’ve been slowly making my way through only one: Laura Ruby’s middle grade novel, York.

I fell in love with Ruby’s writing in Bone Gap, her 2015 Printz Award–winning and National Book Award–nominated YA novel. When I heard she was writing another book, I knew I needed to read it. And when I learned what it was about—a puzzle of sorts in which three kids search for a treasure in an alternate New York—I knew I needed to...[read on]
About Gray Wolf Island, from the publisher:
For fans of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a compelling story of five friends in search of a legendary treasure. They’ll face adventure, supernatural elements, and what it means to trust your friends with the darkest of secrets.

Ruby’s sister had one dying wish: that Ruby explore the infamous Gray Wolf Island and find the treasure long rumored to be buried there.

Ruby sets off to find it, with only a poem, serving as a treasure map, to guide her. She teams up with some local friends—a boy supposedly born of a virgin, a girl who doesn’t sleep, a boy who has visions of his own death, and another with a dark family history. Together, they must face their own demons and give their secrets to the island in order to find their treasure. Along the way, they’ll learn things about themselves, and each other, that they never thought possible.

But on an island that demands both truth and death, how far will they go to reach the end?
Visit Tracey Neithercott's website.

My Book, The Movie: Gray Wolf Island.

The Page 69 Test: Gray Wolf Island.

Writers Read: Tracey Neithercott.

--Marshal Zeringue

Paul Halpern's "The Quantum Labyrinth," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Quantum Labyrinth: How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Reality by Paul Halpern.

The entry begins:
I can envision a 1950s film of Richard Feynman and John Wheeler, with Jack Lemmon playing Feynman and Jimmy Stewart in the role of Wheeler.  I think Lemmon’s experience with the jazzy scenes, music, humor, flirtatiousness, and silly antics in Some Like It Hot would have made him perfect for the role.  Wheeler was very quiet, but had a great dry sense of humor, which is why Jimmy Stewart...[read on]
Visit The Quantum Labyrinth website.

My Book, The Movie: The Quantum Labyrinth.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten life lessons from Russian literature

Viv Groskop is the author of The Anna Karenina Fix: Life Lessons From Russian Literature. One of her top ten life lessons from Russian literature, as shared at the Guardian:
Don’t trust a woman who wears too much perfume

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The horrors of “vinaigre de toilette” crop up regularly in Anna Karenina. It’s the fragrance of choice of the salon “ladies” patronised by Anna’s champagne-swilling brother Stiva and a stench his best friend Levin – the stick-in-the-mud Tolstoy stand-in – simply can’t bear. A cologne-style blend of herbs and spices, vinaigre de toilette represents artifice, pretence and delusion: everything Levin – and all of us – must fight against.
Read about another entry on the list.

Anna Karenina also appears on Elizabeth Day's top ten list of parties in fiction, Grant Ginder's top ten list of the more loathsome people in literature, Louis De Berniéres's six best books list, Martin Seay's ten best long books list, Jeffrey Lent's top ten list of books about justice and redemption, Bethan Roberts's top ten list of novels about childbirth, Hannah Jane Parkinson's list of the ten worst couples in literature, Hanna McGrath's top fifteen list of epigraphs, Amelia Schonbek's list of three classic novels that pass the Bechdel test, Rachel Thompson's top ten list of the greatest deaths in fiction, Melissa Albert's recommended reading list for eight villains, Alison MacLeod's top ten list of stories about infidelity, David Denby's six favorite books list, Howard Jacobson's list of his five favorite literary heroines, Eleanor Birne's top ten list of books on motherhood, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, Chika Unigwe's six favorite books list, Elizabeth Kostova's list of favorite books, James Gray's list of best books, Marie Arana's list of the best books about love, Ha Jin's most important books list, Tom Perrotta's ten favorite books list, Claire Messud's list of her five most important books, Alexander McCall Smith's list of his five most important books, Mohsin Hamid's list of his ten favorite books, Louis Begley's list of favorite novels about cheating lovers, and among the top ten works of literature according to Peter Carey and Norman Mailer. John Mullan put it on his lists of ten of the best erotic dreams in literature, ten of the best coups de foudre in literature, ten of the best births in literature, ten of the best ice-skating episodes in literature, and ten of the best balls in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pg. 99: A. James McAdams's "Vanguard of the Revolution"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Vanguard of the Revolution: The Global Idea of the Communist Party by A. James McAdams.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first comprehensive political history of the communist party

Vanguard of the Revolution is a sweeping history of one of the most significant political institutions of the modern world. The communist party was a revolutionary idea long before its supporters came to power. In this book, A. James McAdams argues that the rise and fall of communism can be understood only by taking into account the origins and evolution of this compelling idea. He shows how the leaders of parties in countries as diverse as the Soviet Union, China, Germany, Yugoslavia, Cuba, and North Korea adapted the original ideas of revolutionaries like Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin to profoundly different social and cultural settings.

Taking readers from the drafting of The Communist Manifesto in the 1840s to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, McAdams describes the decisive role played by individual rulers in the success of their respective parties—men like Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Fidel Castro. He demonstrates how these personalities drew on vying conceptions of the party’s functions to mesmerize their followers, mobilize their populations, and transform their societies. He also shows how many of these figures abused these ideas to justify incomprehensible acts of inhumanity. McAdams explains why communist parties lasted as long as they did, and why they either disappeared or ceased to be meaningful institutions by the close of the twentieth century.

The first comprehensive political history of the communist party, Vanguard of the Revolution is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand world communism and the captivating idea that gave it life.
Learn more about Vanguard of the Revolution at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Vanguard of the Revolution.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of YA lit's witchiest covens

At the BN Teen blog Nicole Hill tagged six of her favorite covens in YA fiction, including:
Born Wicked, by Jessica Spotswood

The coven in the Cahill Witch Chronicles is mostly focused on three sisters—Cate, Maura, and Tess—which lends it a Practical Magic flavor that is sorely missing from the world at large. Before her mother died, Cate promised to take care of her sisters, not only because they’re young. All three sisters are witches, a fate that would spell death if they were found out by Brotherhood priests. But Cate must soon make decisions about her path forward, and any decision she could make is fraught with peril.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Star Cursed.

The Page 69 Test: Sisters' Fate.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Bradford Morrow's "The Prague Sonata"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow.

About the book, from the publisher:
Music and war, war and music—these are the twin motifs around which Bradford Morrow, recipient of the Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, has composed his magnum opus, The Prague Sonata, a novel over ten years in the making.

In the early days of the new millennium, pages of a weathered original sonata manuscript—the gift of a Czech immigrant living out her final days in Queens—come into the hands of Meta Taverner, a young musicologist whose concert piano career was cut short by an injury. To Meta’s eye, it appears to be an authentic eighteenth-century work; to her discerning ear, the music rendered there is hauntingly beautiful, clearly the composition of a master. But there is no indication of who the composer might be. The gift comes with the request that Meta attempt to find the manuscript’s true owner—a Prague friend the old woman has not heard from since the Second World War forced them apart—and to make the three-part sonata whole again. Leaving New York behind for the land of Dvorák and Kafka, Meta sets out on an unforgettable search to locate the remaining movements of the sonata and uncover a story that has influenced the course of many lives, even as it becomes clear that she isn’t the only one after the music’s secrets.

Magisterially evoking decades of Prague’s tragic and triumphant history, from the First World War through the soaring days of the Velvet Revolution, and moving from postwar London to the heartland of immigrant America, The Prague Sonata is both epic and intimate, evoking the ways in which individual notes of love and sacrifice become part of the celebratory symphony of life.
Learn more about the book and author at Bradford Morrow's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Diviner’s Tale.

The Page 69 Test: The Forgers.

The Page 69 Test: The Prague Sonata.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Lauren Child's 6 best books

Lauren Child is the creator of many best-selling and award-winning books, including the hugely popular Charlie and Lola and Clarice Bean series and a spin-off series of novels about Ruby Redfort. She is also the author-illustrator of The New Small Person and That Pesky Rat, among other picture books. She is the Children's Laureate in the U.K. and has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal.

Lauren Child lives in London.

One of the author's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
FRANNY AND ZOOEY
by JD Salinger

I love his use of language and he has an amazing way of observing human character and behaviour. What stayed with me particularly is Franny’s story of not being understood when you are a young woman. It is that feeling of confusion and conflict.
Read about another entry on the list.

Franny and Zooey also appears among Alex Preston's top ten fictional characters struggling with faith and Colette McIntyre's list of eight books every college-bound student should read.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kieran Setiya's "Midlife: A Philosophical Guide"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Midlife: A Philosophical Guide by Kieran Setiya.

About the book, from the publisher:
Philosophical wisdom and practical advice for overcoming the problems of middle age

How can you reconcile yourself with the lives you will never lead, with possibilities foreclosed, and with nostalgia for lost youth? How can you accept the failings of the past, the sense of futility in the tasks that consume the present, and the prospect of death that blights the future? In this self-help book with a difference, Kieran Setiya confronts the inevitable challenges of adulthood and middle age, showing how philosophy can help you thrive.

You will learn why missing out might be a good thing, how options are overrated, and when you should be glad you made a mistake. You will be introduced to philosophical consolations for mortality. And you will learn what it would mean to live in the present, how it could solve your midlife crisis, and why meditation helps.

Ranging from Aristotle, Schopenhauer, and John Stuart Mill to Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir, as well as drawing on Setiya’s own experience, Midlife combines imaginative ideas, surprising insights, and practical advice. Writing with wisdom and wit, Setiya makes a wry but passionate case for philosophy as a guide to life.
Visit Kieran Setiya's website.

The Page 99 Test: Midlife: A Philosophical Guide.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thirteen of the unluckiest characters in SF&F

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged thirteen of the unluckiest characters in science fiction & fantasy, including:
Winston Smith in 1984, by George Orwell

Winston Smith’s bad luck is more or less tied to his existence; if he didn’t have bad luck, he would have none at all. He’s not a complex or deep man; he’s miserable and lonely, and every effort he makes to be slightly less miserable or slightly less lonely yields nothing but the complete destruction of the self. And Winston does not start off the story in a particularly lucky or even enjoyable position—when your high point is miserably pretending to conform in a ruthless dystopian society, you have a case of what literary scientists call Epic Bad Luck.
Read about another entry on the list.

Nineteen Eighty-four is on Bassem Youssef's six favorite books list, Joel Cunningham's list of twelve science fiction & fantasy books for the post-truth era, Stephen W. Potts's top five list of useful books about surviving surveillance, Linda Grant's top ten list of books about postwar Britain, Ella Cosmo's list of five fictional books-within-a-book too dangerous to read, the list of four books that changed Peter Twohig, the Guardian's list of the five worst book covers ever, the Independent's list of the fifteen best opening lines in literature, W.B. Gooderham's top ten list of books given in books, Katharine Trendacosta and Amanda Yesilbas's list of ten paranoid science fiction stories that could help you survive, Na'ima B. Robert's top ten list of Romeo and Juliet stories, Gabe Habash's list of ten songs inspired by books and a list of the 100 best last lines from novels. The book made Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten science fiction novels we pretend to have read, Juan E. Méndez's list of five books on torture, P. J. O’Rourke's list of the five best political satires, Daniel Johnson's five best list of books about Cold War culture, Robert Collins' top ten list of dystopian novels, Gemma Malley's top 10 list of dystopian novels for teenagers, is one of Norman Tebbit's six best books and one of the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King. It made a difference to Isla Fisher, and appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best Aprils in literature, ten of the best rats in literature, and ten of the best horrid children in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Sarah Porter reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Sarah Porter, author of When I Cast Your Shadow.

Her entry begins:
For the last few years I’ve been working intermittently on an historical novel set in 1816. The amount of research it takes to understand the period is truly intimidating, and most of my reading now is focused on that era. I see a lot of historical fiction that takes great care with the dresses and carriages, but gives the characters completely modern outlooks. I’m trying to grasp how people of that era actually thought about the issues confronting them. Free speech was still a contested ideal in England, with journalists clapped in the stocks for criticizing the regent. The deceased Mary Wollstonecraft was fervently hated for...[read on]
About When I Cast Your Shadow , from the publisher:
A TEENAGE GIRL CALLS HER BELOVED OLDER BROTHER BACK FROM THE GRAVE, WITH DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES....

RUBY
Haunted by her dead brother, unable to let him go, Ruby must figure out whether his nightly appearances in her dreams are the answer to her prayers—or a nightmare come true…

EVERETT
He’s always been jealous of his dashing older brother. Now Everett must do everything he can to save his twin sister Ruby from his clutches.

DASHIELL
Charming, handsome, and manipulative, Dash has run afoul of some very powerful forces in the Land of the Dead. His only bargaining chips are Ruby and Everett. At stake is the very survival of the Bohnacker family, bodies and souls....
Visit Sarah Porter's website.

Writers Read: Sarah Porter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 13, 2017

Pg. 99: David Biespiel's "The Education of a Young Poet"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Education of A Young Poet by David Biespiel.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Education of a Young Poet is David Biespiel’s moving account of his awakening to writing and the language that can shape a life. Impelled by the wonder and delight of creativity, and how the presence of books assists emotional development, Biespiel writes for every creative person who longs to shape the actions of their world into art and literature.

Exploring the original sources of his creative impulse—a great-grandfather who traveled alone from Ukraine to America in 1910, eventually settling as a rag peddler in the tiny town of Elma, Iowa—through the generations that followed, Biespiel tracks his childhood in Texas and his university days in the northeast, led along by the “pattern and random bursts that make up a life.”

His book as well offers an intimate and intensely personal recollection of how one person forges a life as a writer during extraordinary times. From the Jewish quarter of Houston in the 1970s to bohemian Boston in the 1980s, including treks through Iowa, Brooklyn, Nashville, and road trips across the United States; from Russia’s Pale of Settlement to a farming village in Vermont, Biespiel remains alert to the magic of possibilities—ancestral journeys, hash parties, political rallies, family connections, uncertain loves, the thrill of sex, and lasting friendships. Woven throughout are reflections on the writer’s craft coupled with a classic coming-of-age tale that does for Allston in Boston in the 1980s what Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast did for Paris in the 1920s and Broyard’s Kafka Was the Rage did for Greenwich Village in the 1950s.

Restless with curiosity and enthusiasm, The Education of a Young Poet is a singular and universal bildungsroman that movingly demonstrates “in telling the story of one’s coming into consciousness, all languages are more or less the same.”
Visit David Biespiel's website.

Writers Read: David Biespiel.

The Page 99 Test: The Education of A Young Poet.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven of the least reliable narrators in literature

At Electric Lit Carrie V Mullins tagged eleven of her favorite unreliable narrators, including:
John Dowell from The Good Soldier

Ford’s 1915 novel opens with the narrator telling us we are about to be told “the saddest story he has ever heard.” That narrator, John Dowell, is the kind of person who wants to see himself, and the world, in a very particular way — traditional, trustworthy, and loyal — and seems crushed when things turn out to be otherwise. But as the intentionally jumpy narrative comes together, Ford makes us wonder whether Dowell is the victim of this sad story or one of its creators.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Good Soldier also appears on Piers Paul Read's top ten list of novels about unfaithful wives, Jean Hanff Korelitz's top six list of her favorite books about failed marriages, Penelope Lively's six favorite books list, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best spas in literature, ten of the best failed couplings in literature, and ten great novels with terrible original titles, and on the Guardian's list of ten of the best unconsummated passions in fiction and Adam Haslett's list of the five best novelists on grief. One line from the novel appears among Stanley Fish's top five sentences.

The Page 99 Test: The Good Soldier.

--Marshal Zeringue

Matthew K. Kelly's "The Crime of Nationalism," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Crime of Nationalism: Britain, Palestine, and Nation-Building on the Fringe of Empire by Matthew Kraig Kelly.

The entry begins:
My book concerns the Palestinian Great Revolt of 1936-39, which was an Arab uprising against British policy in Palestine. By 1936, the British had been facilitating open ended Jewish immigration into Palestine for about two decades, with the stated intent of establishing a “Jewish National Home.” The Arabs had resisted this plan to no avail. This led to frustration, and finally to rebellion.

My telling of this story does not feature a protagonist or "lead" per se. For the film, we might therefore toggle between three different perspectives -- British, Palestinian, and Zionist -- attempting to render each as sympathetically as possible. And we might select three personalities as the anchors for each of these perspectives.

For the British, a good character would be Arthur Wauchope, the high commissioner for Palestine in 1936. Wauchope had been appointed high commissioner in 1931, at the age of 57. An enthusiastic civilian administrator, he had spent most of his adult life in the military, where he had proven himself a physically courageous man. His experience in the Middle East...[read on]
Learn more about The Crime of Nationalism at the University of California Press website.

My Book, The Movie: The Crime of Nationalism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Tracey Neithercott's "Gray Wolf Island"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Gray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott.

About the book, from the publisher:
For fans of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a compelling story of five friends in search of a legendary treasure. They’ll face adventure, supernatural elements, and what it means to trust your friends with the darkest of secrets.

Ruby’s sister had one dying wish: that Ruby explore the infamous Gray Wolf Island and find the treasure long rumored to be buried there.

Ruby sets off to find it, with only a poem, serving as a treasure map, to guide her. She teams up with some local friends—a boy supposedly born of a virgin, a girl who doesn’t sleep, a boy who has visions of his own death, and another with a dark family history. Together, they must face their own demons and give their secrets to the island in order to find their treasure. Along the way, they’ll learn things about themselves, and each other, that they never thought possible.

But on an island that demands both truth and death, how far will they go to reach the end?
Visit Tracey Neithercott's website.

My Book, The Movie: Gray Wolf Island.

The Page 69 Test: Gray Wolf Island.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Pg. 99: David Howard's "Chasing Phil"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Chasing Phil: The Adventures of Two Undercover Agents with the World's Most Charming Con Man by David Howard.

About the book, from the publisher:
A thrilling true crime caper, bursting with colorful characters and awash in ‘70s glamour, that spotlights the FBI’s first white-collar undercover sting

1977, the Thunderbird Motel. J.J. Wedick and Jack Brennan—two fresh-faced, maverick FBI agents—were about to embark on one of their agency’s first wire-wearing undercover missions. Their target? Charismatic, globetrotting con man Phil Kitzer, whom some called the world’s greatest swindler. From the Thunderbird, the three men took off to Cleveland, to Miami, to Hawaii, to Frankfurt, to the Bahamas—meeting other members of Kitzer’s crime syndicate and powerful politicians and businessmen he fooled at each stop. But as the young agents, playing the role of proteges and co-conspirators, became further entangled in Phil’s outrageous schemes over their months on the road, they also grew to respect him—even care for him. Meanwhile, Phil began to think of Jack and J.J. as best friends, sharing hotel rooms and inside jokes with them and even competing with J.J. in picking up women.

Phil Kitzer was at the center of dozens of scams in which he swindled millions of dollars, but the FBI was mired in a post-Watergate malaise and slow to pivot toward a new type of financial crime that is now all too familiar. Plunging into the field with no undercover training, the agents battled a creaky bureaucracy on their adventures with Phil, hoping the FBI would recognize the importance of their mission. Even as they grew closer to Phil, they recognized that their endgame—the swindler’s arrest—was drawing near…

Anchored by larger-than-life characters, framed by exotic locales and an irresistible era, Chasing Phil is high drama and propulsive reading, delivered by an effortless storyteller.
Visit David Howard's website.

The Page 99 Test: Chasing Phil.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top feminist texts

At the Guardian, Barbara Ellen tagged ten of the best feminist texts, including:
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (2014)

Already viewed as a classic of fourth-wave feminism, Gay’s book examines race, weight, sex, gender, violence and popular culture. She blends the observational with the devastatingly confessional (Gay’s gang rape; over-eating). Her deceptively low-key writing style doesn’t mask her core message: in a contradictory world, the modern feminist is more useful being expressive and engaged than being rigidly “observant”.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Sarah Bailey reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Sarah Bailey, author of The Dark Lake.

Her entry begins:
My reading pile has been dominated by Australian authors of late and I feel fortunate to have been on some memorable journeys with some incredible characters.

Sam, the young protagonist in Ben Hobson’s To Become a Whale was a beautiful young soul and his coming of age tale set against the harsh Australian landscape was very vivid. I spent the majority of the book wishing that I could adopt:...[read on]
About The Dark Lake, from the publisher:
Rosalind’s secrets didn’t die with her.

The lead homicide investigator in a rural town, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is deeply unnerved when a high school classmate is found strangled, her body floating in a lake. And not just any classmate, but Rosalind Ryan, whose beauty and inscrutability exerted a magnetic pull on Smithson High School, first during Rosalind’s student years and then again when she returned to teach drama.

As much as Rosalind’s life was a mystery to Gemma when they were students together, her death presents even more of a puzzle. What made Rosalind quit her teaching job in Sydney and return to her hometown? Why did she live in a small, run-down apartment when her father was one of the town’s richest men? And despite her many admirers, did anyone in the town truly know her?

Rosalind’s enigmas frustrate and obsess Gemma, who has her own dangerous secrets–an affair with her colleague and past tragedies that may not stay in the past. Brilliantly rendered, THE DARK LAKE has characters as compelling and mysteries as layered as the best thrillers from Gillian Flynn and Sophie Hannah.
Visit Sarah Bailey's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Dark Lake.

My Book, The Movie: The Dark Lake.

Writers Read: Sarah Bailey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books that will remind you what it felt like to be a kid

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged ten books that will remind you of your childhood, including:
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, by Michael Chabon

The ’80s were a hazy time—glamorous on the surface but boiling with change underneath. You can trace a lot of the culture of the era back decades, but the 1990s ended a lot of those connections. The kids who grew up in the ’80s had a sense they’d come late to a party, and were going to have to decide if they went on to the next one, or went home. While the characters in Chabon’s debut are a little older, they’re just shedding their childhoods, so if you spent your youth in the 1980s, you’ll still recognize every single detail.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pg. 99: John Marmysz's "Cinematic Nihilism"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Cinematic Nihilism: Encounters, Confrontations, Overcomings by John Marmysz.

About the book, from the publisher:
Exposing and illustrating how an ongoing engagement with nihilistic alienation may contribute to, rather than detract from, the value of life, Cinematic Nihilism both challenges and builds upon past scholarship that has scrutinised nihilism in the media, but which has generally over-emphasised its negative and destructive aspects. Through case studies of popular films, including Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises, Dawn of the Dead and The Human Centipede, and with chapters on Scotland's cinematic portrayal as both a site of 'nihilistic sacrifice' and as 'nowhere in particular', this book presents a necessary corrective, re-emphasising the constructive potential of cinematic nihilism and casting it as a phenomenon that need not be overcome.
Learn more about Cinematic Nihilism at the Edinburgh University Press website and John Marmysz's website.

The Page 99 Test: Cinematic Nihilism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Ellie Alexander's "Death on Tap"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Death on Tap: A Sloan Krause Mystery by Ellie Alexander.

About the book, from the publisher:
When Sloan Krause walks in on her husband, Mac, screwing the barmaid, she gives him the boot. Sloan has spent her life in Leavenworth, Washington becoming an expert in brewing craft beer, and she doesn’t have time to be held back by her soon-to-be ex-husband. She decides to strike out on her own, breaking away from the Krause family brewery, and goes to work for Nitro, the hip new nano-brewery in the Bavarian-themed town. Nitro’s owner, brewmaster Garrett Strong, has the brew-world abuzz with his newest recipe, “Pucker-Up IPA.” This place is the new cool place in town, and Mac can’t help but be green with envy at their success.

But just as Sloan is settling in to her new gig, she finds one of Nitro’s competitors dead in the fermenting tub, clutching the secret recipe for the IPA. When Mac, is arrested, Sloan knows that her ex might be a cheater, but a murderer? No way. Danger is brewing in Beervaria and suddenly Sloan is on the case.
Visit Ellie Alexander's website.

My Book, The Movie: Fudge and Jury.

The Page 69 Test: Fudge and Jury.

The Page 69 Test: Death on Tap.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tracey Neithercott's "Gray Wolf Island," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Gray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott.

The entry begins:
Whenever I begin a new book, I go in search of character inspiration. But I usually end up pulling photos of models who fit the images in my mind. Casting with actual actors is a bit harder—especially when trying to find people who could pull off a convincing 17 years old and still have the acting chops to make for an enjoyable film.

Here’s who I’m fake casting for Gray Wolf Island:

RUBY: I think Elle Fanning would do a great job portraying main character Ruby. She has the talent to show Ruby’s guilt, grief, and antisocial nature subtly on screen. Admittedly, she looks nothing like Ruby, but if my book were made into a movie, that would be less important to me than her acting ability. I mean, hair dye exists.

ANNE: This is a tough one. Anne is Native American, and...[read on]
Visit Tracey Neithercott's website.

My Book, The Movie: Gray Wolf Island.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top alternate histories that embrace diversity

Ginn Hale resides in the Pacific Northwest with her lovely wife and wayward cats. She is an award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy, as well as an avid coffee-drinker. At Tor.com she tagged five of her favorite "compelling, glorious and inclusive alternate histories," including:
Everfair by Nisi Shawl

On the surface this is the story of the peoples of Congo escaping the grasp of Leopold II of Belgium and forging the new nation of Everfair. But it’s so much more! Peopled by a vastly diverse cast of characters this deceptively small book spans decades and delves into issues of colonialism, racism, religion, sexism and gender identities. And it does that all while also building a fascinating new age of steam power. This book was everything I’ve ever wanted steampunk to be: nuanced, expansive and so smart, it could teach an entire class on how to do it right!
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue