Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Seven titles about confinement and the need to escape

David Moloney worked in the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections, New Hampshire, from 2007 to 2011. He received a BA in English and creative writing from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he now teaches. He lives north of Boston with his family.

He is the author of the novel Barker House.

At Electric Lit, Moloney tagged seven "books that deal with confinement, but also the need to escape," including:
Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt

In a dual narrative set in different timelines, this novel follows Ruth as a young girl, and then older and mute as Aunt Ruth. Her confinement, in the beginning, is physical, trapped in upstate New York on The Love of Christ! Foster Home, Farm, and Mission. Most of the children have deformities, including Ruth, who has scar-like constellations on her face, which The Father wants, because damaged children are easily converted to his church. The Father once prepared for the Apocalypse, his go-to teaching to end each lesson, but now he doesn’t want to survive it at all.

Ruth and Nat channel the dead, and find themselves linked with a salesman, a Comet-sniffing cult, and each other. In the present, Aunt Ruth takes pregnant Cora on a journey through New York state, where, in the end, both timelines converge into a powerful climax. Mr. Splitfoot is a ghost story about motherhood, family, and faith.

Though, right now, we aren’t on a physical journey, we are traveling through something fantastically unique to our timeline and, like Cora, we will learn more about ourselves and our mission.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Seven medical thrillers set outside the emergency room

Joel Shulkin, MD, is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and United States Air Force veteran with a master’s in public health. Having been lucky enough to be mentored by the legendary Michael Palmer, his short stories have appeared in various print and online journals, and he has won several national and local writing awards for fiction and poetry. He lives in Florida with his wife and twin daughters.

Shulkin's new medical thriller is Adverse Effects.

At CrimeReads he tagged seven medical thrillers that go beyond the emergency room, including:
Outbreak by Robin Cook

When asked to name a novel by Robin Cook, widely considered the founding father of medical thrillers, most think of his debut Coma. But I chose Outbreak, featuring a pediatrician turned CDC epidemiologist who investigates a devastating Ebola outbreak that may have been deliberate. While there are hundreds of books about plagues and epidemics—and likely many more to come after this year—this is a good example of a how a medical thriller doesn’t have to be only about solving a medical mystery or racing for a cure. The what is clear in this book. It’s the who and why that will leave you in a cold sweat.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 21, 2020

Top ten books of autofiction

Nina Bouraoui was born in 1967 to a French mother and an Algerian father. She lived in Algiers until the age of fourteen before moving to France and becoming a writer. She is one of France's most renowned living novelists, and has won several prestigious literary prizes, including the Prix Emmanuel Robles, the Prix du Livre Inter and the Prix Renaudot, and she was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Her novel All Men Want to Know is translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins.

Onbe title on her list of ten favorite books of autofiction ("It may not be the absolute truth the author is telling, but it is her truth as she lived and experienced it") as shared at the Guardian:
To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life by Hervé Guibert, translated by Linda Coverdale

Guibert is the father of autofiction, the master of finding that perfect balance of truth and beauty. In this book, he tells the story of his illness, Aids, in the late 1980s. He tells of how life with the virus became an existential adventure, how it affected a generation, how it stole his friends and lovers, and how writing was for him a bulwark against death and destruction. It’s the story of an era, a turning point – when Aids transformed our relationship with desire and sexuality forever.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Nine of the most memorable antagonists in fiction

L.C. Shaw is the pen name of internationally bestselling author Lynne Constantine who also writes psychological thrillers with her sister as Liv Constantine. Her family wonder if she is actually a spy, and never knows what to call her. She has explored coral reefs all over the world, sunken wrecks in the South Pacific, and fallen in love with angelfish in the Caribbean. Constantine is a former marketing executive and has a Master’s in Business from Johns Hopkins University. When editing her work, she loves to procrastinate by spending time on social media, and when stuck on a plot twist has been known to run ideas by her Silver Labrador and Golden Retriever who wish she would stop working and play ball with them. Her work has been translated into 27 languages and is available in over 31 countries.

Shaw's new novel is The Silent Conspiracy.

[Coffee with a Canine: Lynne Constantine & Greyson; The Page 69 Test: The Network; My Book, The Movie: The Network.]

At CrimeReads, she tagged "nine antagonists so memorable that they’ve gone beyond the pages of the book and become famous in their own right." One entry on the list:
Rebecca, in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca

Throughout the novel, we’re led to believe that the new Mrs. de Winter can never measure up to the brilliant, beautiful, and beloved Rebecca. We never even learn the name of Max’s second wife, only the labels others give to her. But evidence of Rebecca as the first and seemingly rightful Mrs. de Winter is ubiquitous. We can almost see her signature, written in her elegant hand, the “R” dwarfing the other letters. Even as a ghost, in every way but paranormal, Rebecca dominates the story, her presence almost tangible. When Rebecca’s true character is finally revealed, the extent of her evil and duplicitousness nature lands her solidly in the villain camp.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Rebecca appears on Eliane Glaser's list of six of the best books on leadership, Penelope Lively’s list of five of her favorite gardens in literature, Xan Brooks's top ten list of terrible houses in fiction, Tom Easton's top ten list of fictional "houses which themselves seem to have a personality which affects the story," Martine Bailey's list of six of the best marriage plots in novels, Stella Gonet's six best books list, John Mullan's list of ten of the best conflagrations in literature, Tess Gerritsen's list of five favorite thrillers, Mary Horlock's list of the five best psychos in literature, and Derwent May's critic's chart of top country house books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Five memorable books involving amnesia

At Tor.com James Davis Nicoll tagged five unforgettable books involving amnesia, including:
The True Queen by Zen Cho (2019)

Arriving in a tumultuous storm, Sakti and Muna know their names but nothing of their past. The pair are so similar that the Janda Baik islanders assume they must be sisters. Offered a home by formidable witch Mak Genggang, the pair start new lives. One small complication: the sisters are both cursed: where Sakti is full of magic, Muna has not a jot. Sakti’s curse is more existential: she is progressively vanishing. Perhaps the English Sorceress Royal’s college for magically gifted women can help…

It’s convenient that, even though the English are her enemies, the Sorceress Royal is a friend of Mak Genggang. It’s less convenient that Sakti vanishes while the sisters are traversing Faerie to reach England.

It is up to powerless Muna to rescue Sakti. If only Muna were not utterly powerless. If only Faerie were not on the verge of declaring war on England.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 18, 2020

Eight great reads about women who disappear

Wendy Walker is the author of the psychological suspense novels All Is Not Forgotten, Emma In the Night, The Night Before and Don’t Look For Me. Her novels have been translated into 23 foreign languages and topped bestseller lists both nationally and abroad. They have been selected by the Reese Witherspoon Book Club, The Today Show and The Book of the Month Club, and have been optioned for both television and film.

[The Page 69 Test: Don't Look for Me; Q&A with Wendy Walker.]

At CrimeReads, Walker tagged eight favorite thrillers in which a woman is missing, including:
Perfectly Famous, Emily Liebert
Missing Woman: A Famous Author

Technically, mother and famous author, Ward DeFleur, hasn’t disappeared in any way that has involved the authorities. She has simply chosen to vanish after the devastating murder of her teenage daughter, Stevie. Enter Bree Bennett—a recently-divorced, former-journalist-cum-housewife—desperate to fill her days with something other than Pilates classes and grocery shopping. When she decides to try her hand at writing a piece devoted to finding her favorite author, she runs into resistance from Ward’s people, and danger from Stevie’s possible killer. Suspects emerge from every corner and the ending has a delicious surprise!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Ten top books about doomed love

Eleanor Boudreau is a poet who has worked as a dry-cleaner and as a radio reporter. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Tin House, Barrow Street, Waxwing, Willow Springs, FIELD, Copper Nickel, and other journals. Currently, she is finishing her PhD and teaching creative writing at Florida State University.

Boudreau's first book, Earnest, Earnest? (2020), won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize.

At Electric Lit she tagged ten books about doomed love, including:
Crush by Richard Siken

“The entire history of human desire takes about seventy minutes to tell,” writes Richard Siken, “Unfortunately, we don’t have that kind of time.” And it is at breakneck pace that the lovers in Siken’s poems come together and split apart. Before he wrote Crush, Siken’s boyfriend died in a car accident, but that loss is transmuted in the book, so the lovers are torn apart for different reasons across the three sections—sometimes the cause is death, sometimes choice, but the result is always heartbreak.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Five top novels about destructive romantic friendships

Micah Nemerever was trained as an art historian. He wrote his master’s thesis on queer identity and gender anxiety in the art of the Weimar Republic. He is an avid home chef and amateur historian of queer cinema.

After studying in rural Connecticut and Austin, Texas, he now resides in the Pacific Northwest.

These Violent Delights is his first novel.

At CrimeReads, Nemerever tagged "five books [that] invite the reader to surrender again to the intoxication of a destructive relationship, and to follow it to a nightmarishly logical end," including:
Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter

Stories of codependent friendships often feature an element of social aspiration, with one friend yearning to adopt the other’s higher economic class, beauty, or social prestige. The relationship at the heart of Ugly Girls has no such clearly lopsided social dynamic. Both Perry and Baby Girl live in severe poverty and struggle to make friends besides each other. What unites them, in their acerbic but fiercely protective friendship, is a keen awareness of the threats posed by the outside world. They propel each other to toughness and nihilistic rebellion, but each girl is merely performing toughness, and neither has any illusions about the other’s true fragility. In the early pages Perry half-fondly thinks of Baby Girl as a “fake-ass thug,” but it becomes clear over the course of the story that Perry shares her friend’s false confidence. They desperately conceal their own frailty and show no mercy for each other’s. For all their posturing, it is this very vulnerability that propels the girls to an act of violence. Their situations are dire, their prospects bleak—and the outside threat that encroaches on their friendship is a matter of their very survival.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Ugly Girls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Five books to bring you closer to mindfulness

Sharon Salzberg is a central figure in the field of meditation and a world-renowned teacher and author. She is the cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the author of ten books, including the New York Times bestseller Real Happiness.

He new book is Real Change: Mindfulness to Heal Ourselves and the World.

At Lit Hub, Salzberg shared five books that brought her closer to mindfulness, including:
Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery (Basic Books)

Judith Herman’s book is a landmark in understanding the impact of trauma on society and giving readers tools to address it. The part of it that informed my thinking for Real Change was Herman’s exploration of how our ability to address traumatic experiences is linked to the world’s consciousness of social issues. To acknowledge trauma and name it, to find that there are others like you, and to begin to share that experience, is the personal journey for those who have suffered.

In Trauma and Recovery, Herman shows how an interior journey is reinforced as society changes. She describes how issues of sexual abuse came to the forefront with the rise of the women’s movement, giving women a greater platform to speak. Herman also explores how research into Post-traumatic stress disorder emerged as a societal concern as the country recognized the difficulties of war veterans re-integrating into society. With both issues, there was resistance and denial, as this inner state borne of trauma came forward. Herman portrays how these steps are part of the process of movement from inner to outer that creates the context for change.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 14, 2020

Eight frothy, female-led thrillers

Michele Campbell is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School and a former federal prosecutor in New York City who specialized in international narcotics and gang cases.

Her latest novel is The Wife Who Knew Too Much.

At The Strand Magazine, Campbell tagged eight female-led thrillers with a "frothy concoction of thrills, friendship, glamor and humor," including:
Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald.

The suspense builds in this tale of a daughter suspected in her mother’s murder. Eva was struck by lightning the night her mother died and remembers nothing of what happened. As she investigates the murder to clear her own name, terrible secrets and buried memories emerge. Told in alternating, time-shifting chapters by mother and daughter, this seamless, accomplished psychological thriller will keep you riveted.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Five of the best books to inspire compassion

A registered nurse for twenty years before becoming a writer and researcher, Christie Watson won the Costa First Novel Award for her debut, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away. In 2017 she published a memoir of her time as a nurse, The Language of Kindness which is currently being adapted for television.

Watson's new book is The Courage to Care: A Call for Compassion.

At the Guardian, she tagged five books that explore kindness and courage in the face of suffering, including:
The neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi was only 36 when he was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer, as he relates in his memoir When Breath Becomes Air. Kalanithi explains why he gave up English literature to train in medicine, and charts the philosophical journey he took to embody the meaning and importance of compassion: “As a resident, my highest ideal was not saving lives – everyone dies eventually – but guiding a patient or family to an understanding of death or illness.” The book was published after his death, but Kalanithi lives on with his beautiful words.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Five crime & mystery novels featuring deaf characters

Nell Pattison's new novel is The Silent House.

At CrimeReads she tagged five crime and mystery novels in which the authors refuse to use deafness as a narrative device. One title on the list:
Resurrection Bay, by Emma Viskic

Insurance investigator Caleb Zelic was deafened at the age of five by meningitis, and clearly carries a lot of anger at the barriers this has placed in his way. As he becomes embroiled in the investigation into the death of a friend, he is forced to face his own issues surrounding his deafness, as well as some pretty violent criminals. His pride leads to a reluctance to ask for help when he needs it, and this feels really genuine, highlighting the insecurity that he feels, and Viskic has done a great job at portraying the different modes of communication he uses with different people, depending on their relationship. He has a colleague whose poor attempts at sign language add some comic relief to the darkness of the plot, a brother whose moods can be read depending on whether he will sign, and an ex-wife who knows him intimately enough to blend speech and sign in the most effective combination for him.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue