Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Five top stories where nature does its best to kill you

Rin Chupeco has written obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and done many other terrible things. She now writes about ghosts and fantastic worlds but is still sometimes mistaken for a revenant. She is the author of The Girl from the Well, its sequel, The Suffering, and the Bone Witch trilogy.

Her new novel is The Never Tilting World.

At Tor.com, Chupeco tagged five favorite stories where nature does its best to kill you, including:
The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer

An easy favorite, starting with the first book in the series, Annihilation. No one knows how the strange flora and fauna have come to claim the lands that is now known as Area X, only that the people who go on expeditions to study them never come back the same. In many instances, they don’t came back at all. A young unnamed biologist joins the twelfth expedition to find out the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death. The latter had joined the group before hers, only to show up in their kitchen without any recollection of how he’d gotten back, eventually dying of cancer along with his fellow expedition members. But as she explores Area X and watches the same strangeness overtake her fellow scientists while the hostile terrain stalks and attacks them, she realizes that there is an even worse fate waiting for them all there. What I adore the most about the series is that there’s no clear reason why the strange alien environment had started to manifest in Area X – it’s simply there, with no motivation other than to transform everything around it into something just as unnatural as itself.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Annihilation is among Nicholas Royle's ten top lighthouses in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 11, 2019

Six notable mafia classics

Sean Rea studied at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, majoring in communications and minoring in management. The Don of Siracusa is his first novel. Rea has traveled much of America and nearly all of Italy. Like his protagonist, Stefano, from a young age Sean was exposed to the world of big business through his father and nonno, and he drew on much of this in crafting the business aspects of Siracusa. Rea is a long-time fan of the crime-fiction genre and all things mafia-related.

At CrimeReads he tagged six mafia classics you won't want to miss, including:
Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires by Selwyn Raab

Selwyn Raab’s work of narrative nonfiction has taken its (rightful) place as the go-to­ book for organized crime non-fiction. Raab’s novel is expertly written, while still relying on Raab’s journalistic approach to create a reliable history and documentation of organized crime.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven acclaimed books about & from East Germany

Olivia Giovetti a writer and multidisciplinary artist interested in how our lives intersect through culture and the humanities.

At LitHub she tagged seven acclaimed books about and from East Germany, including:
Christa Wolf, Cassandra

Forced to submit their manuscripts for government approval before publication, many GDR authors turned to metaphor to vent their frustrations with the state while slipping past the censors. One of the country’s most celebrated authors, Christa Wolf, used a number of Greek myths as vehicles against an increasingly tight grip of censorship. Coming at the height of the regime’s crackdown on dissent was 1983’s Cassandra. “I told the Cassandra story the way it now presents itself to me,” Wolf wrote in her diary. This presentation was a Troy that fell due to the betrayal of its own leaders, as prophesied by a woman condemned to tell the truth but never be believed—an apt metaphor for what would come to pass in the GDR just a few years after publication.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Seven books about insomnia to distract you from late-night dread

Gnesis Villar, an intern at Electric Literature, tagged seven books to distract you from late night existential dread, including:
Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun

In another novel about the sleepless apocalypse, our narrator Biggs has just lost his wife Carolyn to an insomnia that is wreaking havoc across the nation. Sleep has become a precious commodity in this world. The telltale signs of red-rimmed eyes, slurred speech, and a clouded mind have yet to manifest in Biggs so he while he can still sleep and dream he sets out to find Carolyn–encountering others fighting against sleeplessness along the way.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 9, 2019

The best books about nannies

Amanda Craig is a British novelist, short-story writer and critic. Her novels include Hearts And Minds and The Lie Of the Land. She is currently working on her eighth novel, which is inspired by the fairy-tale of "Beauty and the Beast."

At the Guardian, Craig tagged some of the best books about nannies, including:
“Nanny shall fetch her,” says the odious Mrs Norris, orchestrating the arrival of little Fanny Price at Mansfield Park. Unseen and unheard, Jane Austen’s Nanny enters literature for the first time. Like governesses and housekeepers, nannies are mother substitutes. Although they are most often to be found in children’s literature, the rise of the working mother means they have recently been gaining an important role in adult fiction too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Mansfield Park is among Salley Vickers's favorite books about family dynamics and Travis Elborough's top ten books featuring parks. Maria Bertram in Mansfield Park is among Melissa Albert's five fictional characters who deserved better than they got.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top crime books set in the American West

JP Gritton’s awards include a Cynthia Woods Mitchell fellowship, a DisQuiet fellowship and the Donald Barthelme prize in fiction. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Greensboro Review, New Ohio Review, Southwest Review, Tin House and elsewhere. His translations of the fiction of Brazilian writer Cidinha da Silva are forthcoming in InTranslation.

Wyoming is his first novel.

At Publishers Weekly, Gritton tagged ten of his favorite crime books set in the American West, including:
Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie

People tend to read Alexie as a humorist, but that might just be because laughing at things makes them less painful. Alexie’s noirish second novel unfolds as a mystery, but in the process it transcends the genre: when scalped white men begin to appear around Seattle, an Alex Jonesian radio personality (Truck Schulz) whips his listeners into a racist frenzy. Running alongside the resolution of the murders is the story of John Smith, a tribeless Native American whose descent into madness is written with sympathy and just the right touch of dark humor. A wonderful book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 8, 2019

Five YA books based on real folklore

Shea Ernshaw the author of The Wicked Deep and Winterwood.

At Tor.com she tagged five "YA books [that] were inspired by real world myths and legends and unexplained tales," including:
The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Forests create a perfect setting for the dark and unknown, and in Christine Lynn Herman’s debut book, The Devouring Gray, a beast and a sinister gray resides within the surrounding woods, killing off the people who live in the remote town of Four Paths.

This book gave me all the chills, and perhaps it’s because this story isn’t entirely fiction. Herman was inspired by the real-life history of upstate New York, specifically the burned-over district where in early 19th century, an influx of new religions sprouted up at the same time. The Devouring Gray imagines a town where a religion was centered around worshipping something dark and awful within the forest. This local folklore is the perfect setting for an eerie fictional tale.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Six legal thrillers with powerful social messages

Chad Zunker studied journalism at the University of Texas, where he was also on the football team. He’s worked for some of the most powerful law firms in the country and invented baby products that are now sold all over the world. He has wanted to write full time since he took his first practice hit as a skinny freshman walk-on from a 6’5, 240 pound senior All-American safety — which crushed both him and his feeble NFL dreams.

Zunker is the author of the David Adams legal thriller, An Equal Justice, as well as The Tracker, Shadow Shepherd, and Hunt the Lion in his Sam Callahan series. He lives in Austin with his wife, Katie, and their three daughters.

At CrimeReads, Zunker tagged six legal thrillers with essential social messages, including:
A Gambler’s Jury by Victor Methos

Victor Methos loves writing thrillers about underdogs taking on powerful opposition. Our hero here is Attorney Dani Rollins, who represents Teddy Thorne, a mentally challenged teen accused of selling drugs. Dani feels like it’s an easy case to settle. But when prosecutors move for an adult felony conviction, she suspects that her client is being used as a pawn in a sinister game. Dani will stop at nothing to protect the innocent boy, including taking on guardianship of Teddy. At the book’s heart is an important message about how far we should go to defend and care for those with mental disabilities.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books of fiction about mathematics

Catherine Chung was born in Evanston, IL, and grew up in New York, New Jersey, and Michigan. Writing has been her life-long passion, but as an undergraduate she indulged in a brief, one-sided affair with mathematics at the University of Chicago followed by a few years in Santa Monica working at a think tank by the sea.

Eventually she attended Cornell University for her MFA, and since then she and her books have been given shelter and encouragement from The MacDowell Colony, Jentel, Hedgebrook, SFAI, Camargo, The University of Leipzig, VCCA, UCross, Yaddo, Civitella Ranieri, The Jerome Foundation, the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation. Her brother, Heesoo Chung, has also given her a bed and fed her lots of ice cream at criticaƂ times.

Chung is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a Director’s Visitorship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She was a Granta New Voice, and won an Honorable Mention for the PEN/Hemingway Award with her first novel, Forgotten Country, which was a Booklist, Bookpage, and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2012. She has published work in The New York Times, The Rumpus, and Granta, and is a fiction editor at Guernica Magazine. She lives in New York City.

Chung's latest novel is The Tenth Muse.

At the Guardian, she tagged ten top books of fiction about mathematics, including:
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Ivan’s love for the sticky leaves in spring, his longing for and subsequent rejection of harmony and forgiveness, since it demands he accept the suffering of children, have stayed with me, along with this passage tying those ideas to maths: “If God indeed created the Earth,” he says, “he created it according to the geometry of Euclid and the human mind … Yet there have been geometricians and philosophers [who] even dare to dream that two parallel lines, which according to Euclid can never meet on Earth, may meet somewhere in infinity.” The year I read this was the same year I learned about hyperbolic space, where – as it turns out – parallel lines can and do meet. I became a maths major: how could I resist?
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Brothers Karamazov made Neil Griffiths's top ten list of novels about God, Becky Ferreira's list of the eight best siblings in literature, Alexandra Silverman's list of four famous writers who spent time in jail, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked priests in fiction, James Runcie's top ten list of books about brothers, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Six of the best books on the biggest days in sports

Nicholas Wroe is a writer and editor on the Guardian Review.

He tagged six sporting landmarks in literature, including:
There are few one-off sporting events that command more global attention than the Olympic 100m final. But what are the consequences of such intense focus? Richard Moore’s The Dirtiest Race in History is an enthralling investigation of the 1988 men’s final in Seoul, which apparently saw a remarkable world record set by Ben Johnson. However, within 48 hours the sense of wonder had soured as Johnson failed a drugs test, and in the years following, only two of the eight competitors were not associated with doping. A dark reminder that when the stakes are at their highest, sport is not always just a game.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Five top fantasy books with artists in them

Maggie Stiefvater's new novel is Call Down the Hawk.

At Tor.com, she tagged five fantasy books about artists and the magic of creativity, including:
Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander

This is book four in Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain Books, a high fantasy middle grade series about an assistant pig keeper becoming a hero, for better or for worse. The first three books of the series are traditional adventure tales, but in this one, instead of facing up great battles and comedic banter, Taran instead looks for his origins, hoping to find that he has worthy and noble lineage. When I first read this one as a child, I found it the most dull—why did I have to read about Taran apprenticing with various craftsmen and artists while sulking that he was probably unworthy for a princess? When I reread it as a teen, I loved it the best of all of them. Taran takes away a lesson from every artist and artisan and warrior he meets, and the hero he is in book five is because of the student he was in book four.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven novels about the modern problems of supernatural beings

Meghan Tifft teaches English at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. She is the author of The Long Fire and From Hell to Breakfast.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven "stories about the modern problems of supernatural beings," including:
Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter

This novel about a 19th century aerialiste extraordinaire is fanciful and flamboyant in its attentions to Sophie Fevvers, the part woman-part swan who runs the show of this book. Or so she claims. She’s a self-cultivated spectacle, glitzy and lurid and flaunting an air of greasy hoax, and she wields a raunchy feminine virility that wins everybody’s adulation. For all her audacity, Fevvers is sly and calculating, as she must be, for she exists in a man’s world and must fly torpidly into the swarm. While we cling to her migrations across London with the circus, through St. Petersberg, and into the wilds of Siberia, we experience her great soaring escape, which is always a woman’s dubious triumph, and especially at the end of a restless century—as if it is the natural order of things to slip from gaudy spectacle to the strange tribulations of the unmade self, and finally go out on the truancy of real myth.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue