Saturday, July 2, 2022

Five titles narrated by a character on the outside looking in

Paddy Crewe was born in Stockton-on-Tees in 1991. He studied at Goldsmiths, University of London.

My Name Is Yip is his first novel.

At Lit Hub Crewe tagged "five books narrated by a character who is always on the outside looking in," including:
Rose Tremain, Restoration

Tremain’s narrator, Robert Merivel, is in his pomp in the reign of King Charles II. Merivel is all wit and charm, until his hedonsitic lifestyle brings his name into disrepute, and he’s ignominiously cast out of the court. It’s a narrative that could, in less expert hands, simply be a trite exercise in pointing out the various pitfalls of avarice and lust. But
Merivel’s downfall and subsequent fight for redemption is a much more complex affair. His suffering is no different to the reader’s suffering, and made no less meaningful by the absurdity of his circumstances. This, ultimately, is down to Tremain’s treatment of history in a broader sense. Like all good writers of historical fiction, Tremain refuses to treat the past as distant or inflexible; it is close, immediate, just below the surface. And so Merivel doesn’t suffer from the staid conventions of some of his fellow creations in other novels of the period. Despite the myriad differences between the 17th century and modernity, Merivel remains a relatable figure, one whose loneliness is every bit as real as our own.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 1, 2022

Fifteen of the best WWII historical fiction books

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged fifteen top "books that take place during or around World War II," including:
Clark and Division
Naomi Hirahara

Naomi Hirahara is known for her Edgar Award–winning Mas Arai mystery series — which is to say, the Edgar honor is a mystery writer’s seal of approval. In addition, Hirahara established her voice in the nonfiction world with 2018’s Life after Manzanar. Put these two worlds together and we get Clark and Division. A novel that deftly combines the tragic history of the United States along with a truly engaging mystery. This work just moves and will completely move you as well. More than Edgar Awards are in line for this book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Q&A with Naomi Hirahara.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Top 10 stories of male friendship

Benjamin Markovits is an author and critic. He teaches creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.

His new novel is The Sidekick.

At the Guardian Markovits tagged ten "great stories about male friendship, with all its problems and consolations." One title on the list:
Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead

The title comes from the beachfront neighbourhood in Long Island where African Americans settled after the war. It’s a coming-of-age story for a group of teenage boys, whose friendship is a form of competition. It forces them to work out a version of their identities that can pass the test of constant mockery – “as time went on, we learned to arm ourselves in our different ways”.
Read about the other entries on the list at the Guardian.

Sag Harbor is among Amanda Brainerd's eight books to take you back to the Eighties and Jeff Somers's top ten books to take you someplace you’ve likely never been.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Eight titles exploring the transgressions of young women

Alanna Schubach is a fiction writer, freelance journalist, and teacher. Her debut novel, The Nobodies, is now out from Blackstone.

She was named a NYC Emerging Writers Fellow with the Center for Fiction in 2019, and a Fellow in Fiction with the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2015. Her short stories have appeared in Shenandoah, the Sewanee Review, the Massachusetts Review, Electric Literature, and more, and she has attended residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and MacDowell. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.

Schubach teaches fiction and non-fiction for the Gotham Writers Workshop and privately mentors students in creative writing.

At CrimeReads Schubach tagged eight favorite "tales of young women overstepping boundaries, not only committing crimes in the traditional sense, but also transgressing against expectations in other ways, as well." One title on the list:
Sorority, by Genevieve Sly Crane

“Girls are cruelest to themselves,” the poet Anne Carson wrote. There’s plenty of cruelty in these linked stories about the women of one sorority house, directed both at each other and themselves, particularly after the death of one of their sisters. And each sister has her say about the incident in a series of first-person narratives, presenting a kaleidoscopic and nuanced view that goes well beyond the stereotypes of Greek life. There’s hazing, to be sure, but Crane also takes us inside the inner lives of the sisters, from the house’s founders who warded off marauding men during the Civil War with mysterious rituals, to the present-day members who cope with fractured relationships, clandestine romances, dark compulsions, and all the complexities and dangers of young womanhood.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Five of the best novels with devilishly unreliable narrators

Benjamin Buchholz served in Yemen as the Chief of Attaché Operations at the US Embassy during and up to the Houthi overthrow of the Yemeni government. He is the author of the novels One Hundred and One Nights and Sirens of Manhattan, and the non-fiction book Private Soldiers.

[The Page 69 Test: One Hundred and One Nights; My Book, the Movie: One Hundred and One Nights; Writers Read: Benjamin Buchholz (January 2012)]

Buchholz's new book is The Tightening Dark: An American Hostage in Yemen, a memoir co-written with Sam Farran.

At Shepherd Buchholz tagged five favorite novels with devilishly unreliable narrators, including:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

If you're okay calling a book that begins with a slain poodle a more gentle read, then this is more gentle. Still, it remains well within the realm of the unpredictable. I love how it works from within to immerse us, as readers, in autism, allowing us to see/feel/hear/be with it awhile. And I love how it shows us magic intrigues happening even in a smaller life.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is among John Mullan's ten best child narrators, Kim Hood's top ten books with interesting characters who just happen to have a disability, Julia Donaldson's six best books, and Melvyn Burgess's top ten books written for teenagers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 27, 2022

Seven top books about underdogs

Michael Loynd is chairman of the St. Louis Olympic Committee, a representative on the International Olympic Committee’s World Union of Olympic Cities, a member of the International Society of Olympic Historians, and a sports attorney and lecturer. He is the author of All Things Irish: A Novel.

Loynd's new book is The Watermen: The Birth of American Swimming and One Young Man's Fight to Capture Olympic Gold.

At Lit Hub Loynd tagged seven of his go-to books about underdogs, including:
Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures

America’s race into space against the Russians demanded both brains and bravery. Margot Lee Shetterly unearths this wonderfully, lesser-known history about NASA mathematicians in the 1960s who fight against discrimination as women and as African Americans to succeed at work and help America win the space race. Told with grace and page-turning interest, the protagonists’ struggle to break away from being kept in the shadows and become vital parts of history will certainly inspire.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Hidden Figures is among Tara Sonin's twenty-five must-reads for Women’s History Month.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Ten titles about young women in (and out) of love

Lauren Hutton is a writer and journalist with double majors in English (creative writing emphasis) and women's studies from Colgate University. She is currently an editorial intern for Electric Literature.

At Electric Lit Hutton tagged ten "nuanced stories [that] are less interested in happy endings than allowing the women at the heart of these dalliances to uncover
how universal concerns can play out on the most intimate of stages." One title on the list:
Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield

When Miri’s wife, Leah, doesn’t return from a deep sea research expedition for six months, Miri presumes her dead. The relief of her resurfacing is quickly overshadowed by the repercussions of the traumatic experience: namely, a Leah who is unrecognizable to Miri. This is a masterfully paced horror story, not only because Leah deteriorates into something not quite human in incremental, stunningly rendered beats, but also because the reader’s heart shatters in slow motion. This is a story about two women who love one another deeply, but whose experiences newly mark them as strangers to one another. While much of the reminisced upon love story depicts the women at a young age, this story’s relevance lies mostly in its ability to reflect the ways in which one partner often outgrows the other in young relationships. The tension between the active love these women share and their total inability to connect in the present moment proves an unstoppable current, dragging readers to a dark and scary place where the people we love most aren’t immune to change. A place where grief and love can coexist tenderly but, ultimately, not successfully.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Ten top works of fabulist fiction

Kathryn Harlan received an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she now teaches writing. She was the recipient of the 2019 August Derleth Graduate Creative Writing Prize. Her work has appeared in the Gettysburg Review, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere.

Harlan's debut short story collection is Fruiting Bodies.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten favorite works of fabulist fiction, including:
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

Carter reinvents popular fairytales with enthralling prose and compelling psychological realism. Some of the stories follow familiar patterns, while others
twist off in entirely new directions, but all of them manage to feel novel and to bring a new angle to your understanding of the fairytale. The Bloody Chamber would be worth reading if only for the influence it’s had on other fabulist writers (much of this list included) but it also happens to be an exceptionally good book, a modern classic that feels no less vibrant or immediate now than it must have 40 years ago.
Read about the other entries on the list at Publishers Weekly.

The Bloody Chamber is among Lucy Hughes-Hallett's four top books based on myths, Dan Coxon's top ten folk tales in fiction, Sam Reader's top five books that give old legends a new spin, four books that changed Angelica Banks, four books that changed Justine Larbalestier, Stephanie Feldman's ten creepiest books, and Jonathan Stroud's favorite fantasy books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 24, 2022

Four top books featuring female con artists

Julie Clark is the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Flight. It has earned starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal, and the New York Times has called it “thoroughly absorbing”. It’s been named an Indie Next Pick, a Library Reads Pick, and a Best Book of 2020 by Amazon Editors and Apple Books. Her debut, The Ones We Choose, was published in 2018 and has been optioned for television by Lionsgate.

Clark's new novel is The Lies I Tell.

[Coffee with a Canine: Julie Clark & Teddy]

At CrimeReads she tagged female con artists in shows, podcasts, and in four books, including:
Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

Pretty Things is the compelling story of a woman who returns to con a childhood friend who wronged her long ago.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pretty Things is among Lindsay Cameron's five thrillers to warn you away from social media.

The Page 69 Test: Pretty Things.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Top 10 books about terrible jobs

Lara Williams is the author of A Selfie as Big as the Ritz, which was shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize, the Edinburgh First Book Award, and the Saboteur Awards, and longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize. She is also the author of Supper Club, which won the Guardian “Not the Booker” Prize and was named as a Book of the Year 2019 by TIME and Vogue.

At the Guardian Williams tagged ten top books featuring memorably awful occupations, including:
The Blindfold by Siri Hustvedt

Iris Vegan is a graduate student who works as research assistant for an older, reclusive man named Mr Morning. She is tasked with cataloguing a series of objects “belonging to a girl who died three years ago” (and, it transpires, was murdered). Iris’s job is to unbox each object (a white glove, a hand mirror), study it, smell it, attempt to understand it, then record herself describing and responding to the object in a neutral whisper. Hustvedt captures the stifling mundanity of repeating a task over and over again under perplexing, stultifying constraints.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Five titles about the history we never learned

Robert N. Wiedenmann is Professor Emeritus of Entomology at the University of Arkansas. He received a BS in ecology and PhD in entomology, both from Purdue University. He is Past-President of the Entomological Society of America.

Wiedenmann was inspired to write The Silken Thread: Five Insects and Their Impacts on Human History (with J. Ray Fisher) after teaching a course at Arkansas called, "Insects, Science and Society."

At Shepherd he tagged five of the best books about the history we never learned, including:
Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War by Jeffrey A. Lockwood

In this unique perspective on history, Lockwood offers detailed accounts of the many ways that insects have been used as weapons, and he does so in a very engaging style. Remarkably, the use of insects as weapons did not end with the technological advances in warfare but continued until at least late in the 20th Century. The book reads like a novel—quick-paced, with surprises around many corners. He does not gloss over some of the atrocities but presents them in an appropriate overall context. I have loaned out several copies of this book only to never have them returned!
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Six-Legged Soldiers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Seven top crime novels with first person narrators

Scott Blackburn is an English instructor and a 2017 graduate of the Mountainview MFA program. He lives in High Point, North Carolina with his wife and two children. When he is not writing and teaching, Blackburn enjoys training in combat sports such as boxing, Muay Thai, and Ju-jitsu, in which he holds a black belt.

At CrimeReads he tagged seven top first person narrators from crime novels, including:
Jess Hall, from Wiley Cash’s A Land More Kind than Home

I’m a real sucker for novels that straddle the line between literary fiction and crime fiction, and Wiley Cash’s debut is one of my all-time favorites. This novel, about the death of a young, mute boy during a faith healing service, is told by three distinct narrators, including a sheriff, an 80-year-old woman, and the deceased boy’s brother, nine-year-old Jess Hall. Jess, who’s forced to grow up way too fast when he realizes how corrupt his local church is, immediately endeared me with his curious, innocent wander that’s so true to boyhood. For a child to understand and express the complexities of grief that life sometimes forces upon them is beyond difficult, but Cash mastered this feat with Jess’s character.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

A Land More Kind Than Home is among Tom Bouman's top ten rural noir novels.

My Book, The Movie: A Land More Kind Than Home.

--Marshal Zeringue