Monday, October 20, 2014

Ten Russian novels to read before you die

At Off the Shelf, Andrew Kaufman tagged ten Russian novels to read before you die, including:
The Funeral Party
by Lyudmila Ulitskaya

This English-language debut of one of contemporary Russia’s most important novelists describes the bizarre and touching interactions among a colorful cast of Russian émigrés living in New York who attend the deathbed of Alik, a failed, but well-liked painter. At once quirky and trenchant, The Funeral Party explores two of the biggest “accursed questions” of Russian literature—How to live? How to die?—as they play out in a tiny, muggy Manhattan apartment in the early 1990’s.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ten of the best detectives in books

Lucy Worsley is the author of The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock.

She tagged a ten best list of fictional detectives for Publishers Weekly, including:
Ida Arnold (Brighton Rock by Graham Greene, 1938)

It’s hardly doing justice to Brighton Rock to describe it as genre fiction, but a killing and a murderer are the heart of this book about faith and God.

The good-hearted but blowsy heroine Ida Arnold, our detective figure, goes after a killer with a truly modern mind. Pinkie, the young anti-hero, lacks motive apart from a nihilistic passion for violence and death. With its seamy, seaside-resort setting, its lonely and hopeless characters and its bleak outlook on life, Brighton Rock has much in common with the hard-edged noir fiction soon to come.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Brighton Rock is among Alex Barclay's top ten psychological thrillers and Linda Grant's five best books with novel approaches to kindness.

--Marshal Zeringue

The top ten modernizers in literature

John Grindrod is the author of Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain.

At the Guardian he tagged ten books--half are novels, half biographies--that "give a flavour of what the modern movement in architecture and planning was up to, particularly in postwar Britain." One entry on the list:
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A Caro (1974)

Robert Moses planned much of New York from the 1920s to the 60s. His epic J Edgar Hoover-like tenure was chronicled – and shredded – in this suitably colossal book. Tales of racism and dirty dealing are entwined with an enormous legacy of expressways and housing. From the era of All The President’s Men, Caro’s investigative storytelling is gripping throughout – and at over 1,000 pages, it needs to be.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The top forty Chicago novels

For Chicago Magazine Geoffrey Johnson rounded up the top forty Chicago novels, including:
The Man with the Golden Arm
Nelson Algren (1949)

A wounded vet and backsliding junkie, the card-dealing Frankie Machine inhabits Chicago’s seamy underside in this winner of the first National Book Award.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The author Pete Anderson applied the Page 69 Test to The Man with the Golden Arm.

There is a strong case for Nelson Algren as The Great Illinois Novelist.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 17, 2014

The fifty greatest debut novels since 1950

At Flavorwire, Emily Temple tagged the fifty greatest debut novels since 1950.  One title on the list:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)

Half comedy, half tragedy, all delicious, complex storytelling and a titular character that’s hard to forget.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao also appears among Niall Williams's top ten bookworms' tales, Chrissie Gruebel's nine best last lines in literature, Alexia Nader's nine favorite books about unhappy families, Jami Attenberg's top six books with overweight protagonists, Brooke Hauser's six top books about immigrants, Sara Gruen's six favorite books, Paste magazine's list of the ten best debut novels of the decade (2000-2009), and The Millions' best books of fiction of the millenium. The novel is one of Matthew Kaminski's five favorite novels about immigrants in America and is a book that made a difference to Zoë Saldana.

The Page 99 Test: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Five novels about finding love in the darkness

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Dell Villa tagged five "contemporary novels abound with bittersweet tales of romance found under the bleakest of circumstances," including:
Lovers at the Chameleon Club Paris, 1932, by Francine Prose

Bohemian Paris in the 1930s was a haven for artists of all ilk. Painters, musicians, writers, and photographers flocked to the thriving, throbbing city for inspiration, and many of their paths converged at The Chameleon Club, a dazzling nightclub whose owner not only challenges gender roles on her main stage, but also harbors desperate runaways with desires that fall outside of traditional social norms. First on the eve of war, and then during German Occupation, love in Prose’s richly imagined Paris is always desperate, and never without ulterior motives, but while some of the liaisons are hopeless and tragic, one relationship alone is resilient and sustained.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Six YA authors fans of "The Hunger Games" will love

At the Telegraph Siân Ranscombe tagged six YA authors fans of The Hunger Games will love, including:
Veronica Roth, Divergent

The film adaptation of Divergent opened in March and has so far grossed over $250 million. Similar to The Hunger Games, the novel is set in a Chicago divided into five different factions, based on human virtues: Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, Amity and Candor. When 16-year-old Beatrice Prior undergoes a compulsory test to decide into which faction she would best fit, she discovers she has the attributes of more than one faction and is therefore Divergent. She must keep this a secret, as the government cannot control the thinking of Divergents and are therefore considered a threat to society. Impressively/depressingly, author Roth is just 25 years old.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Divergent series is on Chrissie Gruebel's list of eleven books that will make you glad you're single and Joel Cunningham's list six great young adult book series for fans of The Hunger Games. Divergent is on Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten science fiction novels that pack more action than most summer movies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Eight top fictional biographies of writers, artists & dancers

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Heidi Fiedler tagged eight great fictional biographies of writers, artists & dancers, including:
The Agony and the Ecstasy, by Irving Stone

This story of Michelangelo is one of the earliest books in the genre, but it’s as juicy as any of today’s tell-alls. There are all the flourishes of the Renaissance. The infamous Medicis. Unpopular popes. Art made of gold, for goodness’ sake. You will be transported.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ten top marriage thrillers

At The Huffington Post, Lucie Whitehouse tagged ten top psychological suspense novels with marriages at their heart, including:
Broken Harbor by Tana French

The fourth novel in French's Dublin Murder Squad sequence, Broken Harbor is a literary detective story, a portrait of post-crash Ireland and a gripping, tragic story of a marriage of two people who tried to do everything right and paid the ultimate price.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Ten books you must read if you loved "Gone Girl" and Six domestic chillers for "Gone Girl" fans.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ten top canine-human literary duos

Ellen Cooney is a fiction writer who lives in midcoast Maine. She is the author of nine novels; her stories have appeared in The New Yorker and many literary journals.

Cooney's new novel is The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances.

One of the author's top ten canine-human literary duos, as shared at the Huffington Post:
Argos and Odysseus

Well, Homer. Why doesn't Aeneas have a dog with him when he leaves Troy? Why doesn't Dido have a dog to comfort and maybe save her? What was the matter with Virgil to not put dog companions in The Aeneid? You'd think he was helping the whole thing of Greek epics being superior to Roman ones. But then, there's Homer on the faithful, heroic, patient, suffering, noble canine: "The doom of dark death now closed over the dog, Argos, when, after nineteen years had gone by, he had seen Odysseus."
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Odyssey is among Nicole Hill's ten best names in literature to give your dog, Alexandra Silverman's biggest fictional literary crushes, James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello's top ten journeys across the Mediterranean and Caspian seas, Panayiota Kuvetakis's top ten fictional female friends who would make good real-life friends, James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello's top ten journeys across the Mediterranean and Caspian Sea, Tony Bradman's top 10 list of father and son stories, John Mullan's lists ten of the best shipwrecks in literature, ten of the best monsters in literature, ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, and ten of the best caves in literature, as well as Madeline Miller's top ten list of classical books, Justin Somper's top ten list of pirate books, and Carsten Jensen's list of the top ten seafaring tales.

Learn about two dogs named Argos by their writer-humans: Ceiridwen Terrill & Argos and Jehanne Dubrow & Argos.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Ellen Cooney & Andy, Skip, and Maxine.

My Book, The Movie: The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances.

The Page 69 Test: The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Top ten fairytales

Marina Warner's award-winning studies of mythology and fairy tales include Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary, Stranger Magic: Charmed States & the Arabian Nights, From the Beast to the Blonde - on Fairy Tales and their Tellers, Monuments & Maidens: The Allegory of the Female Form, and No Go the Bogeyman: Scaring, Lulling and Making Mock. Her Clarendon Lectures Fantastic Metamorphoses; Other Worlds were published in 2001; her essays on literature and culture were collected in Signs & Wonders, and Phantasmagoria, a study of spirits and technology.

Her new book is Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale.

At The Guardian, Warner tagged her ten top fairytales, including:
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

A fabulous comic quest story starring a child hero, this novella was written in hiding after the fatwa. Like many fairytales over their long tradition, its works as a happy adventure story and as a pointed political allegory about the silencing of dissent, the horrors of despotism and the joylessness that follows them. It epitomises the capacity of fairytales to “cross over”, and speaks to the times more vividly and more necessarily than ever.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a book that made a difference to Josh Brolin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 10, 2014

Top ten fictional badgers

John Dougherty is a children’s author, poet, and songwriter. In his Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face books, the badgers are the bad guys ... as disruptive as actual badgers.

One of Dougherty's top ten fictional badgers, as shared at the Guardian:
The lendri (from Watership Down by Richard Adams)

Early on in the story, the rabbits encounter a creature with grinning jaws, eyes “full of savage cunning”, and blood on its lips. It was slightly shocking, as a child reading this for the first time, to encounter a fictional badger that wasn’t wise and kind. Its “fierce, terrible stare” introduced me to a whole new way of looking at badgers, which is why a creature that only gets a couple of paragraphs in the whole book deserves almost as much here. Besides which, I’ll take any excuse to sneak Watership Down into my top 10 list of anything.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Watership Down is on Piers Torday's top ten list of animal villains; it is a book Junot Díaz hopes parents will read to their kids.

--Marshal Zeringue