Monday, April 23, 2018

Ten top anti-novels

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Reads blog he tagged ten top anti-novels, including:
Ice, by Anna Kavan

Anna Kavan was born Helen Ferguson, and published under that name for decades. In 1940, she dyed her hair and changed her name, and her writing style changed drastically, too. Ice was the last novel published in her lifetime, and achieved her greatest renown; it’s a post-apocalyptic story of a world being strangled by advancing glaciers, and at first, she struggled to see it published. While there’s a premise, there’s almost nothing by way of plot; the prose is dreamy and often trades in disturbing imagery, and the book has been claimed as an early feminist work exploring the repression and brutalization of women in a lyrical, symbolic way. You don’t so much read this book as let the words flow through you, forming, if not a narrative, then an impression of one.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Ice is among Sofia Samatar's five favorite "intensely strange, beautifully written, and transportive fantasies."

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Five top fictional femme fatales

Peter Swanson's latest novel is All the Beautiful Lies. One of his five favorite fictional femme fatales, as shared at the Waterstones blog:
Crissy Harkinson in The Last One Left by John D. MacDonald (1966)

MacDonald wrote several femme fatales but none better than the truly evil Crissy Harkinson in one of his best standalone novels. She is the definition of ruthless, a woman who will stop at absolutely nothing to get what she wants. To that end she is willing to use every weapon in her arsenal, and she is pitiless. Characters like this can come across as oversimplified, or else misogynistic, but MacDonald was such an astute chronicler of the human condition that Crissy is a fully realized character, far more interesting than MacDonald’s most famous villain, Max Cady from his novel The Executioners, more popularly known as Cape Fear in the two film versions.
Read about the other entries on the list.

See John Mullan's ten best femmes fatales in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Eight books that make great party themes

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Reads blog he tagged eight books that make great party themes, including:
I, Claudius, by Robert Graves

Who’s up for a toga party? The answer is everyone. While Graves’ novels are short on food specifics, you can assume a few things: Wine, grapes, and the poisoned mushroom dish that ultimately kills Emperor Claudius. Of course, you don’t have to make the mushrooms poisonous, and honestly it probably doesn’t matter much what you serve, as long as there’s wine and everyone is wearing togas. Just don’t be the only one wearing a toga, or you’ll wish for poisoned mushrooms.
Read about the other entries on the list.

I, Claudius also appears on Christopher Wilson's top ten list of books about tyrants, Sarah Dunant's six favorite books list, Daniel Godfrey's top five list of books about ancient Rome, Jeff Somers's list of six historical fiction novels that are almost fantasy, Tracy-Ann Oberman's six best books list, the Telegraph's lists of the 21 greatest television adaptations of novels and the twenty best British and Irish novels of all time, Daisy Goodwin's list of six favorite historical fiction books, a list of the eleven best political books of all time, David Chase's six favorite books list, Andrew Miller's top ten list of historical novels, Mark Malloch-Brown's list of his six favorite novels of empire, Annabel Lyon's top ten list of books on the ancient world, Lindsey Davis' top ten list of Roman books, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best emperors in literature and ten of the best poisonings in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 20, 2018

Top ten novels about painters

Amy Sackville is an author and a teacher of creative writing at the University of Kent. Her most recent novel is Painter to the King. One of her ten favorite literary works on artists, as shared at the Guardian:
The Horse’s Mouth by Joyce Cary

Gulley Jimson is 67 and just out of jail. He is impoverished and in trouble; he’s also thieving, selfish and callous. All he cares about is painting and everything he has is dedicated to it; every inch of space in his run-down habitation and his heart. Cary’s dazzling staccato prose manages to be hard and lyrical and hilarious all at once.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Seven YA books about reproductive rights

Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, a martial arts drama for young adults; and High and Dry, a hardboiled teen mystery. At the BN Teen blog she tagged seven YA books about reproductive rights, including:
In Trouble, by Ellen Levine

Because it takes place in the real America of 1956, Trouble is in some ways more unnerving than a dystopian or futuristic novel ever could be. High school juniors and BFFs Jamie (whose dad is in prison) and Elaine (whose boyfriend Neil claims sex is the only way to prove they’re in love) struggle to forge their own paths. Elaine’s pregnancy immediately brands her as a loose “bad girl,” deserving whatever befalls her. In an era of limited options for women, the trouble she’s in is not easily solved; each answer only presents more problems, some of them life-threatening, all of them emotionally isolating. For research, Levine interviewed dozens of women who came of age in the 1950s and ’60s, and the richness and authenticity of her book shows it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Five non-fiction books about fairies in the real world

Alex Bledsoe grew up in west Tennessee an hour north of Graceland (home of Elvis) and twenty minutes from Nutbush (birthplace of Tina Turner). He has been a reporter, editor, photographer and door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. He now lives in a Wisconsin town famous for trolls.

Bledsoe's new novel is The Fairies of Sadieville, the sixth book in his Tufa series.

One of the author's five favorite non-fiction books about fairies in the real world, as shared at
Moving into more modern times, we have Signe Pike’s enchanting 2010 memoir Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enlightenment in a Modern World. Pike makes a pilgrimage to the sites of traditional fairy lore, delves into magic and tradition, and searches for a way into belief despite the modern world’s resistance to such things. It’s a moving personal story told with wit and honesty, and it demonstrates that belief is not something bound to any one era.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Fairies of Sadieville.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Thirteen ill-fated voyages in science fiction

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog he tagged thirteen unlucky ill-fated voyages in science fiction, including:
One Way, by S.J. Morden

If there’s a class of people who might jump at the ultimate chance on a one-way trip to Mars, it’s convicts serving life sentences in harsh prisons—which says something depressing about the state of our justice system. But as Frank Kittridge and his fellow criminals discover once they agree to build a habitat on Mars ahead of an official mission crewed by scientists and astronauts, getting out of prison isn’t always such a great thing, especially when you put yourself at the mercy of a ruthless corporation determined to cut any corner and expend any resource—including the human ones—in order to come in radically under budget.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 16, 2018

The fifteen most powerful memoirs about addiction & recovery

At Entertainment Weekly Mary Kate Carr and David Canfield tagged the fifteen most powerful memoirs about addiction and recovery. One title on the list:
Smashed by Koren Zailckas

Koren Zalickas began drinking at a young age – 14 years old. From her first taste and throughout her young adult life, her increasing dependence on alcohol would lead to hospital trips, blackouts, and dangerous and destructive tendencies that eventually helped her see she should quit drinking for good.
Read about the other titles on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Twenty-five books for fans of Shakespeare

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged twenty-five books, many of them romances, you’ll love if you’re a fan of Shakespeare, including:
Miranda and Caliban, by Jacqueline Carey

Jacqueline Carey has the unique ability to blend beautiful prose, lush world building, and lots of fascinating character development. This retelling of The Tempest stars Miranda and Caliban: the daughter of the play’s main character Prospero, who has taken them to an island for mysterious reasons…and the slave described as a monster by his master. Carey reimagines them as star-crossed lovers caught in a web of powerful people they can’t escape.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Five books about nonsense

Maria Tatar is the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures. She chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology at Harvard University, where she teaches courses in German Studies, Folklore, and Children’s Literature. One of her five top books about nonsense, as shared at
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw

What got me hooked on books? I remember a cozy nook where I retreated as a child into the sweet serenity of books only to be shocked and startled in ways I thankfully never was in real life. What in the world happened to little Miles in that uncanny story about a governess and her two charges? There had to be away to end my profound sense of mystification. It took some time for me to figure out that disorientation and dislocation was the aim of every good story. Keats called it negative capability, the capacity to remain in “uncertainties, mysteries, and doubts.”
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 13, 2018

Five novels that get Leonardo da Vinci right

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Reads blog he tagged five novels that get Leonardo da Vinci right, including:
Oil and Marble, by Stephanie Storey

Storey is up-front about her approach to her use of real history within her fiction: she seeks emotional truth as opposed to literal truth, and isn’t ashamed of that. This story is set in Florence at a time when Leonardo was 50 years old and suffering through a particularly challenging period in his life, as newly-arrived—and much younger—Michelangelo became his rival. While the story is fiction, Storey’s depiction of a middle-aged Leonardo is plausible, and in line with the surviving accounts of the man left behind by contemporaries.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Top ten books about miscarriages of justice

Julia Dahl's latest book in the Rebekah Roberts series is Conviction. One of the author's ten top books about miscarriages of justice, as shared at the Guardian:
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Atlanta newlyweds Roy and Celestial are ready to take on the world, but when Roy is convicted of a crime he did not commit, their union is jolted. What I admired most was Jones’s focus on the intimate details of what injustice does to people who love each other. Trust, desire, loyalty – they are all hit. Could your marriage withstand such a test?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue