Monday, November 30, 2009

Ten best short-story collections of the ’00s

One title on the A.V. Club's list of the 10 best short-story collections of the ’00s:
My Father’s Tears And Other Stories, John Updike (2009)

The decade saw a minor resurgence in interest in the work of John Updike, as many of his earliest short stories came back into print. His death this year similarly prompted an interest in his novels, particularly his towering Rabbit books. But his final publication was this spare volume that provided a fitting companion to his earlier stories. While a bit repetitious, My Father’s Tears was a solid reminder of just why Updike became one of the go-to chroniclers of American life in the 20th century and beyond, as his aging characters confront the change that faces them as they turn toward mortality.

Best story: “Blue Light” turns Updike’s gaze even farther forward in time, as his characters examine just how their children will remember them.
Read about the other collections on the list.

(h/t: escapegrace)

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Five best: historical novels

Rebecca Stott is a professor of English literature and creative writing at the University of East Anglia in Norwich. She is the author of the novels The Coral Thief and Ghostwalk and a biography, Darwin and the Barnacle, and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio.

For the Wall Street Journal, she named a five best list of historical novels.

One title on the list:
The Rings of Saturn
by W.G. Sebald
New Directions, 1998

In "Rings of Saturn," the *German author W.G. Sebald weaves fact and fiction into a book that is part memoir, part travel narrative, part meditative essay and part history. The story twists and turns and shuttles back and forth through time and along England's desolate East Anglian coastline. As the unnamed narrator makes his way south on a walking tour through sand dunes and villages, he describes the relentless erosion of the coast, and as he does, stories wash up—like the workings of memory—wherever he goes. A postcard here, a newspaper cutting elsewhere, the remains of a mulberry tree, a photograph—these lost objects lead him to discussions of Chateaubriand, Swinburne and Conrad, mackerel fishing fleets, skulls and silkworms. For Sebald, history and memory is like a storeroom in a derelict mansion—full of dusty, nearly forgotten things, each of which, in the author's hands, yields its own haunting tale.
Read about the other four novels on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ten of the best chases in literature

At the Guardian, John Mullan named ten of the best chases in literature.

One chase on the list:
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Cripes! The black riders are after them. Frodo, Sam and the mysterious "Strider" are chased by the ring wraiths, who have sold their souls to the evil Sauron. Frodo is carried across the river Bruinen by the elf Glorfindel. When the nine dark riders follow a huge wave carries them away. Hooray!
Read about all ten chases on the list.

The Lord of the Rings made Lev Grossman's list of the six greatest fantasy books of all time, and appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best volcanoes in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 27, 2009

NY Times: 100 notable books, 2009 -- fiction

The staff of the New York Times Book Review named their "100 Notable Books of 2009."

A few of the books and writers from the fiction side of the list that have appeared here on the blog:
'American Rust'
Meyer’s crime novel/road novel hybrid also manages to chronicle life in a dying mill town. (Spiegel & Grau, $24.95.)
Read an excerpt from American Rust.

Learn more about the book and author at Philipp Meyer's website.

The Page 69 Test: American Rust.
'Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It'
Meloy’s calm, intelligent prose renders her stories’ self-sabotaging characters — lawyers, unfaithful spouses, eccentric older women, Montanans — eminently understandable. (Riverhead, $25.95.)
Visit Maile Meloy's website.

What is Maile Meloy reading?

The Page 69 Test: Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It.

The Page 99 Test: Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It.
'Nothing Right: Short Stories'
Nelson is drawn to the damage that results when strong women foolishly trust weak men. (Bloomsbury, $25.)
Read more about Antonya Nelson's new short story collection, Nothing Right.

Writers Read: Antonya Nelson.

Antonya Nelson's five most essential books.
British and American spies clash in the buildup to the Beijing Olympics. (St. Martin’s, $25.99.)
Learn more about the author and his work at Charles Cumming's website.

The Page 69 Test: Typhoon.
Read about all 100 books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Norman Tebbit's six best books

Norman Tebbit served in the RAF before becoming a Conservative MP. An ally of Margaret Thatcher, he held a number of high-profile government posts in the 1980s.

He told the Daily Express about his six best books. One title on the list:
by George Orwell

The year in question may have been 25 years ago but I fear the world of Doublethink and Newspeak that Orwell so brilliantly portrayed in his classic novel is approaching us more rapidly than ever. In fact, if you look at political discourse these days, you'll find it's arrived.
Read about another book on Tebbit's list.

Nineteen Eighty-four is #7 on a list of the 100 best last lines from novels. It disappointed Neil deGrasse upon re-reading. The book made Daniel Johnson's five best list of books about Cold War culture, Robert Collins' top ten list of dystopian novels, Gemma Malley's top 10 list of dystopian novels for teenagers, is one of the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King, and appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best rats in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Top 10 books about bankers

David Charters is a former diplomat and investment banker. He has published six novels and is best known in the U.K. for his best-selling Dave Hart series of satires, set in the fictional world of "Grossbank."

For the Guardian, he named a top ten list of books about bankers.

One title on the list:
The Great Crash, 1929, by JK Galbraith

The naked emperors waltzing down Wall Street and along Threadneedle Street might have been given shorter shrift if more of our politicians and regulators had read this book. The similarities to recent events will surprise and probably horrify you. Will we ever learn?
Read about the other books on Charters' list.

The Great Crash, 1929 also appears on Andrew Ellson's critic's chart of books on cash crashes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The ten best music books of the decade

The staff at Paste magazine came up with a list of the ten best music books of the decade (2000-2009).

One title on the list:
9. Amanda Petrusich—It Still Moves (2008)

Part travelogue, part exploration of the past and future of Americana. Paste contributor Petrusich follows up her 33 1/3 book on Nick Drake by tracing a line from the Carter family and Elvis Presley to the “new, weird, hyphenated America” curated in the cartoon capital of Brooklyn. Josh Jackson
Read about the other books on the list.

Writers Read: Amanda Petrusich.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 23, 2009

Top 10 debut novels of the decade (2000-2009)

The staff at Paste magazine came up with a list of the ten best debut novels of the decade (2000-2009).

One title on the list:
8. Hillary Jordan: Mudbound [Algonquin Books] (2008)

Mudbound, an ambitious and affecting debut, may very well become a staple for courses in Southern literature. It is accessible, engaging and spiked with suspense… Readers now have Hillary Jordan’s tremendous gift, a story that challenges the 1950s textbook version of our history and levels its readers completely in the thrall of her characters.” Tayari Jones, Paste #40
Read about the other nine books on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Mudbound.

My Book, The Movie: Mudbound.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ten of the best teachers in literature

At the Guardian, John Mullan named ten of the best teachers in literature.

One teacher on the list:
Miss Jean Brodie

Based on one of Muriel Spark's own teachers, Jean Brodie is dangerously charismatic. She talks of being in her "prime", and captures the spirits of a few chosen girls at a posh Edinburgh girls' school. She tells them about art and Italy, but her lessons often allow her to express her admiration for Mussolini's fascists.
Read about the other teachers on Mullan's list.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is one of Ian Rankin's best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Five best works of fiction about World War Two

Antony Beevor has written both novels and non-fiction. His new book is D-Day: The Battle for Normandy.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of works of fiction about World War II.

One title on the list:
Life and Fate
by Vasily Grossman
Harper & Row, 1984

Vasily Grossman's "Life and Fate" is the "War and Peace" of Stalinism and the Great Patriotic War, as the Soviets called World War II. This deliberate act of literary homage to Tolstoy uses the Battle of Stalingrad in the place of the Battle of Borodino, and there are several parallels in construction. But the characters in "Life and Fate" and the dilemmas they face when confronted by the moral distortions of the system are entirely the product of what the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam called the "wolfhound age." Grossman, who had covered World War II from the front for a Red Army newspaper, accumulated stories, incidents and extraordinarily powerful vignettes in his notebooks for later use in his novels. The anti-Semitism that emerged in Stalin's later years convinced Grossman of the parallels between Nazism and Stalinism. This similarity became a covert but recognizable theme in his great novel. Grossman naïvely believed that it could be published during the Khrushchev thaw, but he was soon disabused. The KGB "arrested" the book in 1961 after Mikhail Suslov, the ideological chief of the Central Committee, declared that it must not be published for 200 years. The secret police even took Grossman's carbons and typewriter ribbons. He died a broken man, but an early copy of the manuscript had survived, and it was smuggled out to be published abroad.
Read about the other four books on Beevor's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 20, 2009

The 50 best winter reads

The Independent complied a list of the fifty best winter reads.

One title on the list:
Blood's a Rover

'At long last, the final volume in James Ellroy's gut-punching Underworld USA saga,' says Maxim [Jakubowski]. 'Staccato style, a gallery of grotesques, puppets of fate and pitiful anti-heroes, and a sharp dissection of recent US history all make this an indispensable take no hostages guide to a descent into hell and further. Breathless stuff.'
Read about the other 49 books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Top ten bird poems

Simon Armitage's nine poetry collections include The Universal Home Doctor and Travelling Songs. Tim Dee is a BBC radio producer the author of The Running Sky, a memoir of his birdwatching life. Their new book is The Poetry of Birds, an ornithologically ordered anthology of the best bird poems.

For the Guardian they each named five favorite bird poems.

One of Armitage's picks:
"Leda and the Swan" by WB Yeats.

A poem of brutality and wild beauty. I've always given swans a wide birth since reading this poem at school.
Read about the other nine poems on their list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The (London) Times: 100 best books of the decade

A panel at the Times (of London) came up with a list of the 100 best books of the decade.

A few of my favorites:
9 Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001)

A foolish act of bravado and a simple act of conceit at a 1930s house party combine to spoil three lives. Can amends be made? You either love or hate the postmodern twist at the end, but you cannot deny the brilliance of the descriptive set-pieces.

11 War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, in a new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (2007)

The greatest novel in the world is given new life by the remarkable translating team who have already blown the dust off Dostoevsky; if there is one essential desert island book, this is it — the literary equivalent of digital remastering.

21 The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (2004)

A peculiar, chilling fantasy. In an alternative America, the Aryan supremacist and aviator Charles Lindbergh becomes President in 1940 and persecution of the Jews begins — as narrated by an alternative Philip Roth.

24 Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)

Hailsham appears to be a typical English boarding school, but the students are taught nothing about the outside world. Kathy, a former student, discovers that they are all clones, specially bred to provide spare organs.

60 Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond (2005)

In the decade of 9/11, the credit crunch and environmental anxieties, we all began to worry about our futures. This is the book that explained most learnedly why previous societies had come unstuck.

74 War Music by Christopher Logue (2001)

An action-packed poetic adaptation, War Music brings the bravura imagery and fast-paced drama of the cinema to Homer’s great classic. As The Iliad is brought to idiomatic modern life, Logue encourages readers to reconnect with their deepest literary heritage.

81 The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud (2006)

A sharp, elegant, sophisticated portrait of three smart New Yorkers about to hit 30, just before 9/11. Danielle is a TV producer, Julius is a freelance critic and poor “Bootie” has hopelessly dropped out. A meditation on modern morality.
Read about all 100 books on the list.

Also see: One hundred books that defined the noughties.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Five best books about etiquette

Laura Claridge, author of Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners, named a five best list of books about etiquette for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on the list:
The Civilizing Process
by Norbert Elias
Oxford, 1969

The German sociologist Norbert Elias's most important work, the two-volume "The Civilizing Process" (Über den Prozess der Zivilisation), was originally published in German during World War II, when Elias was living in England, having fled the Nazis. The work was little noticed for three decades, until the publication in 1969 of an English-language edition of the first volume. Meticulously tracking the historical developments of everything from post-medieval table manners to the modern mind-sets of men and women in the workplace, Elias explored how social attitudes shape the individual psyche. As courtly etiquette increasingly censured the public display of bodily functions, for instance, community standards changed to imitate principles valued by the nobility, and society developed a new "threshold of repugnance." Late in his life Elias became an intellectual celebrity, and since his death in 1990 he has come to be regarded as one of the most influential sociologists of the 20th century.
Read about the other four books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mariella Frostrup's six best books

Mariella Frostrup is a radio and TV presenter in Britain. She named her six best books for the Daily Express.

One book on the list:
Stars and Bars
by William Boyd

A hilarious account of a very British art dealer’s adventures with a bunch of eccentrics in America’s Deep South. There’s nothing to equal a book that brings tears of laughter to your cheeks and this early novel of William Boyd’s did exactly that.
Read about the other five books on Frostrup's list.

In 2007 Frostrup asked Gordon Brown, then the incoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, about his five all-time favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ten of the best: examples of ekphrasis

At the Guardian, John Mullan named ten of the best examples of ekphrasis--the recreation in words of a work of art.

One novel on the list:
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

It starts off delighting its own subject – "The sense of his own beauty came on him like a revelation" – but over the months begins to change: "there was the picture before him, with the touch of cruelty in the mouth." Each ekphrasis keeps pace with Dorian's corruption, as the beautiful young man himself remains unblemished.
Read about the other examples of ekphrasis on Mullan's list.

The Picture of Dorian Gray also appears on Mullan's list of ten of the best disastrous performances in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 14, 2009

100 books that defined the noughties

At the Daily Telegraph, Brian MacArthur named 100 books that defined the noughties. #1 on the list:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
by JK Rowling

If you don’t know what a Muggle is by now, you’re either Rip van Winkle or enormously stubborn. This is the seventh and final instalment in Rowling’s record-breaking series about Harry Potter, the world’s most famous lightning-scarred boy wizard and his tribulations with Lord Voldemort. We’ve seen Harry grow from a spindly, messy-haired 11-year-old into a heroic young adult. Children have grown up with him, finding in his battles metaphors for their own. This volume alone sold 15 million copies in the first 24 hours after it was published. Whether wickedly skewering suburbia, or bringing Harry, Ron and Hermione into mortal danger, Rowling is never less than absorbing. Some may sneer at her books, but they are triumphant sagas about the defeat of evil that tap into our basic hunger for stories. Most importantly, she makes reading a 700-page book seem easy. This one even has a quotation from Aeschylus as its epigraph. It stands as a cornerstone of the decade, a melding of high and low culture that appeals to all ages and nations.
Read about the other 99 titles on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 13, 2009

Best books: Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin's Rebus novels are now translated into twenty-two languages and are bestsellers on several continents. He has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and is also a past winner of the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He is the recipient of four Crime Writers' Association Dagger Awards including the prestigious Diamond Dagger in 2005. In 2004, Rankin won America's celebrated Edgar Award for Resurrection Men. He has also been shortlisted for the Edgar and Anthony Awards in the USA, and won Denmark's Palle Rosenkrantz Prize, the French Grand Prix du Roman Noir and the Deutscher Krimipreis. His first art-world thriller, Doors Open, is due out in January.

Rankin named his six best books for The Week magazine. One title on the list:
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

I first read this during high school, because I wasn’t old enough to see the 1971 film at the cinema. I loved the language, story, and structure. I started scribbling stories about my own experiences, so really this is the book that got me writing.
Read about the other books on Rankin's list.

Learn about the best selling book Rankin wishes he'd written.

Two books on Rankin's list also number among Laura Hird's three favorite book-to-film adaptations.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Top 10 books on witch persecutions

James Morrow's books include The Philosopher's Apprentice and The Last Witchfinder.

In 2006 he named a top ten list of books on witch persecutions for the Guardian. One title on the list:
The Crucible by Arthur Miller (1953)

Is there anything quite so aesthetically dreadful as a bad production of The Crucible? I think not. Yes, all drama is melodrama, but in writing a tragedy about the Salem witch trials, Miller was running the risk of eschatological soap opera - which is indeed what happens when this play is ill-mounted or indifferently acted. Should you ever hear of a favourably reviewed Crucible, however, don't hesitate to attend: properly staged, Miller's critique of religiosity is a religious experience. If no such theatre-going opportunity lies at hand, your next best option is the printed text. True, the author occasionally departs from the historical facts, and his decision to frame the story as a dress-rehearsal for McCarthyism feels heavy-handed in retrospect. But this is a beautifully structured work, full of searing moments and resonant speeches.
Read about all ten titles on Morrow's list.

Visit James Morrow's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Philosopher’s Apprentice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Six outstanding books on the theme of health, illness or medicine

The winner of the inaugural Wellcome Trust Book Prize was announced this month.

The award is open to outstanding works of fiction and non-fiction on the theme of health, illness or medicine. Six books made the shortlist. The winner:
Keeper: Living with Nancy - a journey into Alzheimer's
Andrea Gillies

Andrea Gillies made the decision to take on the full-time care of her mother-in-law, Nancy, an Alzheimer's sufferer. With her family, she moved to a remote peninsula in northern Scotland to a house with space to accommodate Nancy and her elderly husband, and there embarked on an extraordinary journey.

'Keeper' describes the emotional strain of living with Alzheimer’s, the trials faced by both sufferer and carer, when patience and obligations are pushed to the limit. The book is also a brilliantly illuminating examination of the disease itself. It explores the brain and consciousness, and tackles profound questions about the self, the soul and how memory informs who we are.
Read about the other books to make the shortlist.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Top ten under-appreciated books on race

For The Root, John McWhorter named a top ten list of books on race that should be more widely read.

One title on the list:
Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle (2004)

Are as many people getting to this one as they should? It didn’t win the National Book Award for nothing. Ossian Sweet, a black doctor in 1925 Detroit, moved into a house in a white neighborhood, only to face down a racist mob and shoot one of its members dead. The NAACP came in to defend him, complete with none other than the legendary Clarence Darrow, giving us a look at him beyond the Scopes trial he is most known for today. Boyle’s book shows what happened at the tipping point in Northern cities between the pre-Great Migration phase, when there weren’t enough blacks to seem threatening to whites and the later one, when there were enough blacks that the North became the South. Some Amazon reviewers mistake this book as a “novel,” and it’s because Boyle is a fantastic chronicler. “History written with lightning,” Woodrow Wilson called D.W. Griffith’s film The Birth of a Nation. Same with this book.
Read about the other nine books on McWhorter's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 9, 2009

Six greatest fantasy books of all time

Lev Grossman is Time magazine's book critic as well as one of its lead technology writers. The New York Times says he's “among this country's smartest and most reliable critics.”

He published his first novel, Warp, in 1997. His second novel, Codex, came out in 2004 and became an international bestseller.

His new novel is The Magicians.

For The Week magazine, Grossman named the "six greatest fantasy books of all time."

One book to make the grade:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (HarperCollins, $7).

A shoo-in. Whether you’re young or old, Christian or whatever, Lewis’ tale of children crossing from one world to another—and discovering their power there—is pure Turkish Delight: The more you read, the more you want.
Read about the other five books on Grossman's list.

Read an excerpt from The Magicians, and learn more about the book and author at Lev Grossman's website and The Magicians website.

The Page 69 Test: The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ten of the best instances of invisibility in literature

For the Guardian, John Mullan named ten of the best instances of invisibility in literature.

One novel on the list:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

There is, of course, the traditional "invisibility field". But a much cheaper alternative is the SEP field. When somebody, or something, is surrounded by an SEP field, the human brain perceives it as "somebody else's problem", and will therefore be incapable of seeing it.
Read about the other nine entries on Mullan's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Five best books that evoke time and place

Penelope Lively is the author of many prize-winning novels and short story collections for both adults and children. She has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize; once in 1977 for her first novel, The Road to Lichfield, and again in 1984 for According to Mark. She later won the 1987 Booker Prize for her highly acclaimed novel Moon Tiger. Her novels include Passing On, shortlisted for the 1989 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award, City of the Mind, Cleopatra's Sister and Heat Wave. Her new novel is Family Album.

For the Wall Street Journal, she named a five best list of books that evoke time and place. One title on her list:
The Boys' Crusade
by Paul Fussell
Modern Library, 2003

In 1944, during the run-up to D-Day, two million young American men were given 17 weeks of basic training and shipped to Europe. Over the course of 11 months, from the Normandy landings to Germany's surrender, 135,000 U.S. infantrymen were killed and half a million wounded. Paul Fussell was among the soldiers who came home. He offers a brief, selective and forceful account of that period in "The Boys' Crusade"— and boys is what they largely were. The jacket of my copy shows the face of what one can only see as a child, swamped by his helmet. The book makes liberal use of eye-witness quotation—one soldier describes finding German corpses, "gray teeth, gray hands, worn boots, no identities ... dead meat, nothing to grieve," and being "stupefied by the death we'd breathed"—an effect that plunges the reader into specific actions and the day-by-day routines of combat. But "The Boys' Crusade" also evokes the outlook of those teenagers—their blithe fidelity to the idea of America as the best and only modern country in the world, and their rapid exposure to the grim realities of an annihilating war.
Read about the other four books on Lively's list.

Learn about the book that changed Penelope Lively's life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 6, 2009

Publishers Weekly's 10 best books of 2009

Publishers Weekly named its top ten books of 2009. One title on the list:
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
David Grann (Doubleday)

In this classic adventure tale, New Yorker writer Grann—who gets winded climbing the stairs of his New York City walkup—follows in the footsteps of early–20th-century Amazon jungle explorer Percy Fawcett, who disappeared along with his son on a 1925 expedition. Grann expertly and energetically weaves the story of Fawcett's explorations with that of his own.
Learn more about The Lost City of Z.

Read about the other nine titles on Publishers Weekly's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Top ten books that teach us about southern Africa

Ian Holding is the author of Unfeeling, his (debut) novel set against the backdrop of a post-independent African country during the notorious farm attacks.

In 2005 at the Guardian, he named a top 10 list of books that teach us something about southern Africa.

One title on the list:
Disgrace by JM Coetzee

No other novelist renders the inner truths of man more palpably than Coetzee, and here the story of a fallen university professor turns into deft allegory, the everyman for an entire nation struggling to comprehend changes to its national identity.
Read about the other books on Holding's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Top 10 novels of sexual jealousy

"Tales of innocence and wonderment leave me cold," writes Howard Jacobson at the Guardian. Black obsessiveness is what the novel does best. And jealousy is its natural domain."

One title from his top ten list of novels of sexual jealousy:
Persuasion by Jane Austen

Sexual jealousy is not normally what we think of as Jane Austen's terrain. But her novels are full of jealousy's tragic potential. If it weren't for her intervention, her heroines would be forever losing men to more moneyed or vivacious rivals. In Persuasion she colludes with her heroine to the extent of throwing the other woman off a sea wall. Almost as murderous in its vengefulness as Tolstoy.
Read about the other novels on Jacobson's list.

is among Elizabeth Buchan's top 10 books guaranteed to give comfort during the ending of a relationship and appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best concerts in literature.

The Page 99 Test: Persuasion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Five best books on women's suffrage

Sally McMillen is the Mary Reynolds Babcock Professor of History and Department Chair at Davidson College. She specializes in Southern and women's history, with an emphasis on the nineteenth century. Among her publications are Motherhood in the Old South: Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Infant Rearing, Southern Women: Black and White in the Old South, and To Raise Up the South: Sunday Schools in Black and White Churches, 1865-1915.

Her latest book is Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement.

For the Wall Street Journal she named a five best list of books on women's suffrage. One title on the list:
In Her Own Right
by Elisabeth Griffith
Oxford, 1984
This absorbing biography does full justice to Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), a pivotal figure in the women's suffrage movement during the 19th century. Elizabeth Griffith details Stanton's long, fascinating life and close collaboration with fellow women's-rights campaigner Susan B. Anthony. "In Her Own Right" examines the attributes as well as the shortcomings of a woman who was uncompromising in her pursuit of radical demands, not just for the right to vote but also for divorce-law reform, marital property rights and equal wages. Toward the end of her life, Stanton produced the two-volume "Woman's Bible," which offered commentaries on the Good Book's negative attitude toward women. (Stanton had long blamed ministers as a major obstacle to women's advancement.) Griffith re-establishes Stanton's vital role among early suffragists—she was, after all, one of the principal organizers in 1848 of the groundbreaking Seneca Falls Convention, a catalyst for much that followed.
Read about the other books on McMillen's list.

the Page 99 Test: Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement by Sally McMillen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 2, 2009

Matt Dawson's six best books

Ex-England rugby captain and World Cup winner Matt Dawson named his six best books for the Daily Express.

One title on the list:
by Russell Brand

A fascinating memoir. He stumbled into acting, found he was quite good and thought it was something he wouldn't get told off for doing... ironically. My vocabulary - as my father always told me - is not good enough. Russell's is so intelligent you need a dictionary for his! Achingly funny.
Read about the other five books on Dawson's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ten of the best rats in fiction

At the Guardian, John Mullan compiled a list of ten of the best rats in literature.

One novel on the list:
La Peste by Albert Camus

Rats are victims too. One day, in the Algerian port of Oran, Dr Bernard Rieux sees a dead rat. Soon the city's inhabitants begin to notice the increasing number of dead or dying rats, and their fears turn to panic. The authorities organise the collection and burning of the rats, which merely helps spread the disease. It is an allegory, but of what?
Read about all of the rats on Mullan's list.

--Marshal Zeringue