Monday, October 18, 2021

Nine books about love, loss & belonging set in the Caribbean

Myriam J. A. Chancy, Guggenheim Fellow & HBA Chair of the Humanities at Scripps College, is a Haitian-Canadian/American writer born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and subsequently raised there and in Canada. After obtaining her BA in English/Philosophy from the University of Manitoba (1989) and her MA in English Literature from Dalhousie University, she completed her Ph. D. in English at the University of Iowa.

Chancy's new novel on the 2010 Haiti earthquake is What Storm, What Thunder.

At Electric Lit she tagged nine books about love, loss, and belonging set in the Caribbean, including:
The Marvellous Equation of the Dread by Marcia Douglass

In this novel, Douglass weaves an indelible tale of Jamaican life from a deeply spiritual perspective, as she fictionalizes Rastafarian history into a tale for the ages. Bob Marley is reincarnated as a homeless man, Fall Down, who might be a Jamaican Everyman. An unknown deaf woman, Leenah, once Marley’s lover, is a seer who extrapolates the meaning of unexplored spaces between life and death. Told through multiple perspectives, including those of children, and what Douglass calls “bass riddim,” the author brings to life the rhythms of reggae through its many incarnations through her very prose.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Five books on troublesome women in the House of Windsor

Wendy Holden has written numerous books and is a celebrated journalist. She lives in England.

Her latest novel is The Duchess.

At Lit Hub Holden tagged five top books on Troublesome Women in the House of Windsor. One title on the list:
Tina Brown, The Diana Chronicles

Reading for my Diana novel, I’ve found this sparky, irreverent and sharp-witted biography by the celebrated journalist both fascinating and entertaining. Brown, whose background is upmarket British glossy magazines, knew Diana’s milieu well and has some pungent opinions on why what happened happened. She is especially good on Diana’s early life, which is the focus of my book. A breezy and well-informed take on the fairytale which was actually anything but.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Four titles featuring paintings that illuminate their characters

Katie Lattari is the author of two novels, Dark Things I Adore (2021), her thriller debut, and American Vaudeville (2016), a small press work. Her short stories have appeared in such places as NOO Journal, The Bend, Cabildo Quarterly, and more. She lives in Maine with her husband Kevin and Alex the cat.

At CrimeReads Lattari tagged four books featuring paintings that reveal emotional truths about their characters. One title on the list:
Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood (1988)

When painter Elaine Risley returns home to Toronto for a retrospective of her career, she is forced to confront her past, including long-held memories tinged with trauma. As a child, Elaine was the victim of bullying from friends, a girl named Cordelia her particular tormenter. As the two grow up, however, the tables turn, and Elaine becomes the bully and Cordelia the victim. Over the years, the unhealthy relationship between these two frenemies continues until the retrospective, when, despite Elaine’s expectation to the contrary, Cordelia does not attend.

It is through Cordelia’s conspicuous absence that Elaine realizes that at least one of them has left their childish game of one-upmanship behind. Forced to experience her retrospective alone, which is filled with paintings rife with anger and hurt from her past, including intimations of people and moments that have left her wounded and disappointed – Elaine begins to come to terms with the meaning of her paintings and the journey of her career and her life.

The paintings that Elaine must confront seem to form a narrative only legible to her upon reflection. It is a corpus intimating the trials and tribulations of an entire life full of vulnerabilities and truths she must be the one to look upon most closely of all. Elaine must ruminate on what she has made, what these works reflect and refract back to her from various points in her life, and what to make of it all now, armed with her new understanding. The paintings become portals for reflection and revelation.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Cat's Eye is among Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott's ten top cliques in fiction and Jessica Winter's six favorite novels on girl power.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 15, 2021

Seven funny titles about the internal politics of working at a newspaper

Katherine Ashenburg is the prize-winning author of two novels, four non-fiction books and hundreds of articles on subjects that range from travel to mourning customs to architecture. She describes herself as a lapsed Dickensian and as someone who has had a different career every decade. Her work life began with a Ph.D. dissertation about Dickens and Christmas, but she quickly left the academic world for successive careers at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer; at the Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail as the arts and books editor; and most recently as a full-time writer.

[ Q&A with Katherine Ashenburg]

Ashenburg's new novel is Her Turn. In it, Liz, a divorced newspaper editor, finds her tidy life overturned when the woman now married to Liz’s ex-husband submits a personal essay to the column Liz edits. Wife #2 has no idea that she is sending her essay to Wife #1, and Liz decides to keep that a secret, with surprising results. Elizabeth Renzetti writes of it, “It is infused with the joyful spirit of Nora Ephron and lit with a charm all its own.”

At Electric Lit Ashenburg tagged seven funny novels about journalists chasing stories and uncovering intrigue, including:
The Spoiler by Annalena McAfee

It’s 1997 and newspapers are beginning to fight for their survival. The novel centers on two women at different ends of the journalistic food chain—Honor, an older, admired war correspondent, and Tamara, a young writer of fluff for an entertainment supplement called Psst. Tamara, who specializes in listicles (“The Best Soap Opera Shags”), has never heard of Franco, thinks zeitgeist is a German magazine and assumes Levi-Strauss is a new kind of jeans. Ambitious to climb an increasingly shaky ladder, she tries to write a feature about the flinty and contemptuous Honor. The gap between two generations and two attitudes to journalism could not be starker, or more darkly amusing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Six literary works that might be horror novels

James Han Mattson was born in Seoul, Korea and raised in North Dakota. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he has received grants from the Copernicus Society of America and Humanities North Dakota. He has been a featured storyteller on The Moth, and has taught at the University of Iowa, the University of Cape Town, the University of Maryland, the George Washington University, Murray State University, and the University of California – Berkeley. In 2009, he moved to Korea and reunited with his birth family after 30 years of separation.

He is the author of two novels: The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves (2017) and Reprieve (2021). He is currently the fiction editor of Hyphen Magazine.

At CrimeReads he tagged "six books that are widely classified as literary but could have easily made their way over to the horror shelf," including:
Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates

I mean, this book is straight-up horror. I wouldn’t even put it in that nebulous category of “literary horror”, but just, you know: this his horror. It’s about a psychopath who wants to perform ice-pick lobotomies on people so he can have sex with them. Yeah. Beyond grisly. The book even has pictures, one of which shows a head with an ice pick jammed into its brain. Joyce Carol Oates, though, mostly writes more subdued (but still very dark!) novels, and she’s by and large considered a literary luminary, so I don’t ever see any of her books making that trip over to the horror section (which, by the way, no longer exists in most bookstores).
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Seven of the weirdest high schools in literature

Bethany Ball was born in Detroit and now lives in New York with her family.

She is the author of What To Do About The Solomons and the newly released, The Pessimists.

[The Page 69 Test: What To Do About The Solomons.]

At Electic Lit Ball tagged seven "books set in schools where things aren't quite what they seem," including:
Ault School in Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Upper-class waspy prep schools are something I can’t get enough of. A club so elite they’d never accept me? Please, tell me more. I devoured this book when it came out. Being a Midwesterner myself, I also pined for the J Crew catalog-looking East Coast boarding schools and begged my mother to attend one. However, because we were not rich and I was a fairly terrible student, it was never going to happen. Prep is the quintessential fish out of water story: Lee is Midwestern, not rich, not schooled in the ways of the monied East Coast elite, but she wants desperately to fit in. She finds herself, at least initially, with the outsiders on the margins, but rejects them as she moves closer to the center. Ault School is full of the sort of arcane rituals one expects: names like Tig and Cross and Gates, summers in Nantucket, and the game of Assassin played throughout campus.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Prep is among James Scudamore's ten top books about boarding school, Caroline Zancan's eight stories about what really happens on campus, Lucy Worsley's six best books, and James Browning's ten best boarding school books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Nine current classics in magic and covens and spells

For more than ten years, Fire Lyte has interviewed self-identified witches, fairy experts, goblin hunters, paranormal investigators, and even a werewolf on his podcast Inciting A Riot. His thousands of listeners worldwide tune in as he examines magic, witchcraft, Paganism, and spiritual seekership through a diverse, inclusive lens with a balance of modern science, critical thought, and pop culture. He lives in the Chicago suburbs with his husband and vast array of fur children.

Fire Lyte's new book is The Dabbler's Guide to Witchcraft: Seeking an Intentional Magical Path.

At Lit Hub he tagged nine "stories of witches, a coven of stories if you will, that encompass the history of the witch through time and how these stories are thriving in the modern era." One title on the list:
Madeline Miller, Circe

Madeline Miller’s 2019 masterpiece features history’s first witch, the eponymous Circe. She’s presented as a relatively minor goddess who likely would have been relegated to a footnote in a Classics textbook somewhere except for the fact that she realizes her power doesn’t lie in carrying the sun across the sky like her father Helios, but in the hidden magic and medicine of plants. Miller’s prose is at once familiar and romantic while always teetering on the edge of ripping the reader’s heart out, which is my very favorite kind of book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Circe is among Elodie Harper's six top novels set in the ancient world, Kiran Millwood Hargrave's seven best books about islands, Zen Cho's six SFF titles about gods and pantheons, Jennifer Saint's ten top books inspired by Greek myth, Adrienne Westenfeld's fifteen feminist books that will inspire, enrage, & educate you, Ali Benjamin's top ten classic stories retold, Lucile Scott's eight books about hexing the patriarchy, E. Foley and B. Coates's top ten goddesses in fiction, Jordan Ifueko's five fantasy titles driven by traumatic family bonds, Eleanor Porter's top ten books about witch-hunts, Emily B. Martin's six stunning fantasies for nature lovers, Allison Pataki's top six books that feature strong female voices, Pam Grossman's thirteen stories about strong women with magical powers, Kris Waldherr's nine top books inspired by mythology, Katharine Duckett's eight novels that reexamine literature from the margins, and Steph Posts' thirteen top novels set in the world of myth.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 11, 2021

Eight novels in which a small town is the perfect crime incubator

L. Alison Heller is the author of The Neighbor’s Secret, The Never Never Sisters and The Love Wars. In a former life, she was an attorney in New York City. She now lives in Colorado with her family.

At CrimeReads Heller tagged eight "favorite novels in which a small town is the perfect incubator for some truly grisly secrets." One title on the list:
Faithful Place by Tana French

Detective Frank Mackey grew up in Faithful Place, a neighborhood consisting of two rows of eight red brick houses in Dublin. At nineteen, he and his girlfriend Rosie O’Daly plotted to flee their small flats and oppressive families for a better life in London. On the night of their planned departure, however, Rosie failed to show up.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Faithful Place is among Katie Tallo's top ten crime novels about returning home.

Also see Janice Hallett's five notable gripping mysteries set in small towns and Sophie Stein's eight top books about small-town woman detectives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Seven books about older women behaving badly

Amy Lee Lillard is the author of Dig Me Out from Atelier26 Books. She was shortlisted for the 2017 Berlin Writing Prize and named one of Epiphany’s Breakout 8 Writers in 2018. Her fiction and nonfiction appears in Barrelhouse, Foglifter, Epiphany, Off Assignment, and other publications.

Lillard has worked as a copywriter and marketer for over twenty years, working in advertising, corporate communications, trade journalism, and medical education. She has also taught writing at local community colleges and mentored in the PEN America Prison Writing Program.

Lillard is the co-creator, co-host, and producer of Broads and Books, the funny and feminist book podcast.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books "about women who refuse to disappear and insist on being seen." including:
Animal by Lisa Taddeo

After losing her parents at a young age, Joan has spent her life pursuing men. Especially the married, rich men that serve as father figures. She trades her youthful looks, her body, her emotional labor, for a sense of protection and care. But as she ages, things grow desperate.

When one of the delusional married men kills himself in front of her, she flees. And in California, she discovers her dormant, lifelong rage at men is demanding to come out. This is an intensely deep and nuanced look at a woman who defines herself with men and against women. But with age, with the withering of all her tools of youth, she accesses both a murderous anger and a shocking capacity to love. And with both, she’ll never cede the floor.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Six top books about migration & Caribbean identity in America

Antonio Michael Downing grew up in southern Trinidad, Northern Ontario, Brooklyn, and Kitchener. He is a musician, writer, and activist based in Toronto. His 2010 debut novel, Molasses, was published to critical acclaim. In 2017 he was named by the RBC Taylor Prize as one of Canada's top Emerging Authors for nonfiction. He performs and composes music as John Orpheus.

Downing's new book is Saga Boy: My Life of Blackness and Becoming.

At Lit Hub he tagged six favorite books about migration and Caribbean identity in America, including:
David Chariandy, Brother

This novel is closely based on the author’s experiences growing up in Scarborough, a massive, mostly immigrant section of Toronto; my high school there educated students from at least 70 different nationalities! Brother introduces the complexities of growing up in this melting pot. Chariandy is a masterful stylist, he deftly navigates the stories of immigrant parents as they raise children who are disconnected from them. The parents have “useless foreign degrees” framed on the walls while their children, “oiled creatures of mongoose cunning,” bang hip-hop and kick it in barber shops seeking some sense of belonging. Brother is a celebration of brotherhood, a mediation on the divide between migrants and their children, and an exquisite book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 8, 2021

Ten books focused on opulent wealth, family secrets & suspense

The author of Nanny Needed, The Stepdaughter, and The Missing Woman, Georgina Cross worked as a journalist and then spent nine years in business development for an aerospace and defense contractor before joining the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce as the workforce director. She lives in Alabama with her husband and four sons.

At CrimeReads Cross tagged ten books focused on opulent wealth, family secrets and suspense. One title on the list:
Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia

In Nekesa Afia’s debut mystery, a young Black woman named Louise is working at a cafĂ© by day in Harlem and the hottest speakeasy at night in 1920s Manhattan. This is a time for hopes and dreams and great jazz, but to everyone’s horror, someone is killing young Black girls, and no one knows who is behind the murders. After an unfortunate altercation with a police officer and Louise is arrested, her past threatens to lumber her with the consequences she’s been avoiding. Instead, she agrees to help the investigation and find the serial killer who is targeting young Black girls in her neighborhood. With the prejudices of New York society working against her and several influential people standing in her way, Louise must track down the killer before they hurt someone else, and before Louise finds herself in the crosshairs too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Top 10 books about theatre

Michael Billington has written about theatre for the Guardian since 1971. His books include The 101 Greatest Plays and State of the Nation: British Theatre Since 1945.

His latest book is Affair of the Heart: British Theatre from 1992 to 2020.

At the Guardian Billington tagged his top ten books "on the fugitive art" of theatre, including:
The Empty Space by Peter Brook

This is arguably the most influential theatre book of modern times. Generations of students and practitioners have absorbed Brook’s division of theatre into four categories – deadly, holy, rough, immediate – but this is also a book for the playgoer. Time and again I am struck by Brook’s practical wisdom: that high prices often deter young theatregoers, that a permanent company is doomed to deadliness without a philosophy, that what remains after a performance is a central image. Brook says at the end that his book is already out of date: I’d say it is as topical as ever.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue