Monday, May 31, 2010

Five must-read short-story collections

Jane Ciabattari is the author of the critically acclaimed short-story collection, Stealing the Fire.

For The Daily Beast, she named five must-read short-story collections. One book on her list:
A Taste of Honey by Jabari Asim

This first collection from cultural critic Jabari Asim (Why Obama Matters and The N Word) is a clear-eyed, warm-hearted, often humorous portrait of a sometimes tough time gone by. The 16 linked stories are set in Gateway, a Midwestern city not unlike Asim’s hometown of St. Louis. Four stories are narrated by Crispus Jones, a charmer barely old enough to cross the street by himself. The youngest of three boys, Crisp is sometimes humiliated (his brother Shomberg, 12, is a particular tease), but he gets revenge in his dreams: “I undid the day’s disasters and rewrote them to suit my most fervent desires. I had control. Everyone listened to me, and there was no end to my handsomeness…”

Asim draws us close to the tightly knit Jones family, their friends, neighbors, shopkeepers, the newly radical young “Warriors of Freedom,” and the police in the months from the hot foreboding summer of 1967 to the climactic moments of “urban unrest” after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in the spring of 1968. As Asim highlights individual dreams and disappointments, near misses and triumphs, he’s always attuned to the sting of racism and the balm of tenderness and joy that comes from being with the ones we love.
Read about the other collections on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ten of the best riots in literature

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

One book on the list:
The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West

West's sour tale of a young man trying to make his way in depression-era Hollywood ends with a riot at a film premiere. A California crowd made irascible by their own disappointed dreams are ready for violence, and one small altercation sets them off.
Read about the other entries on Mullan's list.

The Day of the Locust is on Jane Ciabattari's list of the five best novels on Hollywood, Jonathan Kellerman's list of the top ten LA noir novels, and Peter Conn's list of the five best novels from the Great Depression; it also appears on Jonathan Evison's list of books about the Spirit of California.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gerald Scarfe's 6 best books

Gerald Scarfe is one of Britain’s best-known cartoonists; his work is instantly recognizable to readers of The New Yorker.

He named his six best books for The Daily Express. One title on the list:
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I had a very irregular education but when I read this 19th century Russian classic it was an absolute revelation. Sometimes so-called classics can be hard work but I found this absolutely gripping.
Read about the other books on Scarfe's list.

Crime and Punishment is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer, and it appears on Andrew Klavan's five best list of psychological crime novels. Elmore Leonard has never read beyond page fifty of the tome.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 28, 2010

Alternate history: five American presidents

At io9, David Daw came up with a few American presidents in alternate history. One alt-president from his list:
Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip

One of the first alternate history presidencies was the satirical fascist presidency of Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip in It Can't Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis. Published in 1935, the book centers on Windrip's presidency as he quickly rises to power after promising every American 500 dollars and then turns the US into a fascist dictatorship opposed by surprisingly few citizens. The story was popular enough to be adapted into a play and a 1960's TV movie and, after some network rejiggering, was actually the basis for the original 1980's V series.
Read about the other alternate presidents on Daws' list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Top 10 troubled males in fiction

Tony Parsons' new novel is Men From The Boys, the final installment of his Harry Silver trilogy, which began with Man and Boy and was then followed by Man and Wife.

For the Guardian he named his top ten troubled males in fiction.

One troubled man on the list:
Magwitch in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

From the moment he grabs Pip by the throat in a graveyard until the time he sneaks back from Botany Bay to reveal himself as the young man's secret benefactor, Magwitch is one of the great tormented souls in literature. Violent, uneducated, blundering, yet full of love and desperate to do one good thing in his life.
Read about the rest of the list.

Great Expectations also made John Mullan's ten best list of fights in fiction, David Nicholls' top ten list of literary tear jerkers, and numbers among Kurt Anderson's five most essential books. It is #1 on Melissa Katsoulis' list of "twenty-five films that made it from the book shelf to the box office with credibility intact."

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Eleven presidents' favorite books

The Huffington Post's Jessie Kunhardt pulled together a list of favorite books of eleven U.S. presidents.

One president and book on the list:
John F. Kennedy

Though JFK had very sophisticated reading tastes -- among his favorites is Stendhal's "The Red and the Black," a psychological novel and satire of the French social order -- he also liked fun reads. One of his favorite authors was Ian Fleming, and he especially enjoyed "From Russia with Love."
Read about the other presidents' favorite books.

From Russia with Love
also made John Mullan's lists of ten of the best chess games in fiction, ten of the best punch-ups in fiction, and ten of the best breakfasts in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Five books that can save the world

Lucas Wittmann, the Books Editor at The Daily Beast, argues that the books nominated for this year's Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism "demonstrated the important role that insightful, incisive, and well-researched books still play in helping us understand our complicated, messy world." One of the nominated books and why Wittmann thinks it is worth reading:
Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil
by Peter Maass

And then there are those complex subjects that are so hard do dramatize. Over the last two weeks we’ve watched the largest oil spill in U.S. history slowly metastasize through the Gulf. Many of us were shocked by the devastation but anyone who has read Peter Maass’ superbly terrifying account of oil, Crude World, will know that Ecuador and Nigeria have been experiencing something similar year after year. Our world runs on oil and Maass’ book is the guide to our awful addiction—and hopefully a spur to greater control. If you saw the 60 Minutes expose on Sunday night, you’ll know the urgency of reform.
Read the rest of Wittmann's feature.

The Page 99 Test: Crude World.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ten of the best towers in literature

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

One title on the list:
The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien

But what are the two towers that give the title to the second volume of The Lord of the Rings? Minas Tirith, site of the trilogy's last battle? Minas Morgul? Or a couple of the other towers on the tower-thick map of Middle Earth: Barad-dûr, Cirith-ungol, or Isengard (where Gandalf is held by Saruman until rescued by an eagle)? Take your pick.
Read about the other works on the list.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 23, 2010

John Waters' 6 favorite books

John Waters is the writer/director of the films Hairspray, Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, and Cecil B. Demented. His new book is Role Models.

Waters told The Week magazine about his six favorite books. One title on the list:
The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq

My favorite politically incorrect novelist can write like nobody’s business, including yours. Incredibly cruel, sexist, and outside any moral standards, this insanely brilliant science-fiction novel is as good a place as any to start reading this author … or stop.
Read about the other books on Waters' list.

See Ray Taras' review of Houellebecq's The Possibility of an Island.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Five best books on American moguls

T.J. Stiles is the author of The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, winner of the 2009 National Book Award and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize.

For the Wall Street Journal he named a five best list of books on American moguls. One title on the list:
by James McGrath Morris
Harper, 2010

Today's reporters and media tycoons would do well to study James McGrath Morris's life of Joseph Pulitzer, the journalist, editor and entrepreneur. A proverbial penniless immigrant (a German-speaking Hungarian Jew), Pulitzer fought for the Union in the Civil War, then moved to St. Louis. There he learned English and the news business. His rapid rise in journalism was interwoven with politics, a natural twist, since newspapers were overtly partisan. He briefly held elected office but found greatness as a newspaper owner. Morris is fascinating on Pulitzer as a working (make that hard-working) reporter and editor who understood how to grab his readers—and saw where his industry was going (or could go).
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 21, 2010

Top ten Welsh underground novels

Welsh author Rachel Trezise won the inaugural Dylan Thomas prize, a £60,000 literary award for work by writers under 30, for her short story collection Fresh Apples. Her new novel is Sixteen Shades of Crazy.

For the Guardian, she named a top ten list of Welsh underground novels. One book on the list:
Luggage from Elsewhere by Aneurin Gareth Thomas

A dazzling and devastating account of a bittersweet old south Wales childhood and adolescence, ripe with discotheques and pints of snakebite and blackcurrant. A group of friends grow up and experiment with sex, drugs and political action in a society coming to terms with loss of work and power. "We lived on the coast but only ever knew how to eat fish fingers."
Read about the other books on the list.

Visit Rachel Trezise's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Yann Martel's five favorite books

Yann Martel is the author of the novel Life of Pi, winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Beatrice and Virgil, his new novel, is now out by Spiegel & Grau.

He named his five favorite books for The Daily Beast. One title on the list:
by J. M. Coetzee

Likely my favourite living writer. It's astonishing how much he does with so little. Disgrace is a spare and searing work about the changing South Africa, told through the story of a professor whose life goes all wrong.
Read about the other books on the list.

Disgrace also appears on Ian Holding's top ten list of books that teach us about southern Africa; it is one of Vendela Vida's favorite books of the last ten years.

Also see Yann Martel's recent (and somewhat different) 6 favorite books list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ten greatest science fiction detective novels ever

At io9, Charlie Jane Anders came up with a list of the ten greatest science fiction detective novels of all time.

One series on the list:
The Retrieval Artist novels by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

This series, which started with the short story "The Retrieval Artist," takes place in the future, when the Moon has been colonized for centuries and humans are in contact with lots of alien races. And when humans inadvertently break the laws of alien cultures, they have to face those aliens' punishments — no matter how bizarre or severe. And people sometimes try to disappear, or change their identities, to avoid this harsh alien justice. Detective Miles Flint and his partner Noelle DeRicci wind up solving murders whose solution is often startling — like the cleaning robots were reprogrammed to rearrange the crime scene, or the murder wasn't what it first appears — and at the same time, avoid offending the strange customs of the alien races living amongst us.
Read about the other entries on the list.

At My Book, the Movie, Hugo Award-winning writer Rusch has suggested some casting ideas should the SciFi Channel decide to adapt her "The Retrieval Artist" series of novels.

The Page 69 Test: Recovery Man.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Seven books that made a difference to Colin Firth

A few years ago the actor Colin Firth told O, The Oprah Magazine about a few books that made a difference to him.

One novel on the list:
The Power and the Glory
by Graham Greene

This is about a man—the whiskey priest—on the run in a Mexican state during a purge of religious figures. The most poignant thing in the story, for me, is that the priest has had a child. He wants to repent, but how can you find salvation when you can't hate the sin? He's stuck in that paradox: The one thing that prevents him from repenting is love. That so interests me—the idea of looking for spiritual salvation in what is otherwise an impossibly compromised life.
Read about the other books on Firth's list.

The Power and the Glory also appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best episodes of drunkenness in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 17, 2010

Janet Suzman's 6 best books

Janet Suzman is a South African actress and director based in England. She was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Nicholas and Alexandra.

She told The Daily Express about her six best books. One title on the list:
The Girl who Played with Fire
by Stieg Larsson

A few too many Swedish names designed to muddle your brain but no other faults to report in these detective stories with a nasty, fascinating, clever heroine setting the agenda.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ten of the best: visits to the cinema in literature

For the Guardian, John Mullan named ten of the best visits to the cinema in literature.

One novel on the list:
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

It's the 1950s, and "lover-boys and their leading ladies" are not allowed to kiss in Indian films, but the premiere of Uncle Hanif's film The Lovers of Kashmir presents a titillating alternative. Pia and Nayyar, the delectable lovers, keep kissing not each other "but things": apples, mangoes, cups of tea. The audience begins "to give off a low buzz of shock".
Read about the other entries on the list.

Midnight's Children also appears among Sheena Iyengar's six best books and Luke Leitch's ten most successful literary sequels ever.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Five best books on statesmen

Evan Thomas is the author of The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst and the Rush to Empire, 1898.

For the Wall Street Journal he named a five best list of books on statesmen. One title on the list:
Present at the Creation
by Dean Acheson

Most people, when they are in the midst of history being made, are too caught up in the moment to see its larger meaning. Not the great American statesman Dean Acheson: His aptly named autobiography captures the precise date, on Feb. 27, 1947, when the duties of Pax Britannica passed to Pax Americana. Britain on that day told the U.S. that the British were no longer able to help protect Turkey and Greece from Soviet expansion; America was on its own. "We drank a martini or two to the confusion of our enemies," recorded Acheson, who would go on to become secretary of state (1949-53). Written with grandeur, verve and a certain puckish delight, "Present at the Creation" is the frankest and most gripping work by a statesman since Ulysses S. Grant's 1885 autobiography.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 14, 2010

Top 10 books about incarceration

Lesley Glaister’s first novel, Honour Thy Father, won both a Somerset Maugham Award and a Betty Trask Award. Her other novels include Trick or Treat, Limestone and Clay, for which she was awarded the Yorkshire Post Book Award, Partial Eclipse and The Private Parts of Women, Now You See Me, As Far as You Can Go, and Nina Todd Has Gone. Her latest novel is Chosen.

For the Guardian, she named her top ten books on incarceration. One book on the list:
Misery by Stephen King

There's a less appealing version of the enforced writer's retreat in this terrifying novel – terrifying particularly, perhaps, for a writer. In a remote part of Maine, a popular novelist crashes his car and his life is saved by a mad fan. She's mortified to discover that he's killed off Misery, her favourite character, and keeps him prisoner, insisting that he write a novel resurrecting Misery. She's the most fanatically particular and violent editor/jailer one can imagine. It's an intense book, with just these two central characters locked in a close and claustrophobic tangle of mind-games, combat and downright gruesome nastiness.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Books that made a difference to John Cusack

For O, The Oprah Magazine, John Cusack named a few books that made a difference to him. One book on the list:
Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72
by Hunter S. Thompson

They say Hunter walked the surface of the Earth looking for an honest man and came up wanting. I'd never seen politics approached with this kind of candor or insight or capacity for looking at the underbelly of it. During the 1972 presidential campaign, he did a series of articles for Rolling Stone that are collected here. His mixture of artistic sensibilities with journalistic excellence, all to find the core of truth—I thought that was pretty incredible. Mostly, I admired the ferocity of Hunter's mind. I got to know him as a friend in the '90s. He was still reading everything, processing all this information, and seeing the patterns underneath. People forget—because of his Dr. Gonzo persona, which was so much larger than life—what a wonderful writer, thinker, journalist, and advocate he was for the truth and for the American dream. I think he was mourning its passing. Hunter had reason to be disillusioned, but his insights into people, his savage deconstruction of things, the precision, the honesty, and the courage to admit difficult things about himself, his country, and human nature—talk about influential. He sort of blew your mind.
Read about the other books on Cusack's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Scott Turow's 5 favorite pre-1980 novels about the law

Scott Turow's new book is Innocent, the sequel to the bestselling Presumed Innocent.

For The Daily Beast, he named his five favorite novels about the law published before 1980.

One title on the list:
Billy Budd
by Herman Melville

The last work by one of America’s greatest novelists, a painful contemplation about the limits of the law, a subject of life-long interest to Melville.
Read about the other books on the list.

Visit Scott Turow's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Top 10 unputdownable Chinese books

Hilary Spurling won the Whitbread Biography and Book of the Year 2005 for her biography of Henri Matisse, the product of 15 years’ work. Her biography of Ivy Compton-Burnett won the Heinemann and Duff Cooper prizes. She has been a theatre and book critic for the Spectator, Observer and Telegraph, and lives in London.

Her new book is Burying The Bones: Pearl Buck in China.

For the Guardian, she named her top ten Chinese books. One book on her list:
River Town by Peter Hessler

Another brilliant book by a young American confronting a China beginning for the first time to open its doors to the West in the 1990s. Hessler spent two years teaching English in a nondescript small town on the Yangtze, and used it as a base from which to explore the country's enigmatic past, inscrutable present and unpredictable future. A spellbinding account of a moment that will never come again.
Read about the other books on Spurling's list.

River Town also appears on Oliver August's five best list of guides to China and its history.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 10, 2010

Five best baseball books

Peter Morris, author of A Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball, named a five best list of books on baseball for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on the list:
The Glory of Their Times
by Lawrence S. Ritter
Macmillan, 1966

Spurred by the death of baseball legend Ty Cobb in 1961, Lawrence Ritter, an economics professor, made it his mission to tape-record the memories of other players from Cobb's generation before these men were also gone. The result is an invaluable record of what it felt like to play big-league baseball in the early 20th century. Former New York Giants outfielder Fred Snodgrass, for instance, recalled what would happen when the umpire tossed out a new ball: Helpful infielders would throw the ball around a few times—until it came back to the pitcher "as black as the ace of spades. All the infielders were chewing tobacco or licorice, and spitting into their gloves, and they'd give that ball a good going over before it got to the pitcher." Eagle-eyed observers have detected some errors in the recollections, but that scarcely matters. Hundreds of baseball books get the minutiae right. None has ever captured the spirit of an era better than "The Glory of Their Times."
Read about the other books on the list.

Also see Doug Glanville's best books on baseball, Richard J. Tofel's list of the five best books on baseball as a business, Tom Werner's six favorite baseball books, Fay Vincent's five best list of baseball books, Tim McCarver's five best list of baseball books, and Nicholas Dawidoff's five best list of baseball novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Yann Martel's 6 favorite books

Yann Martel is the author of the novel Life of Pi, winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Beatrice and Virgil, his new novel, is now out by Spiegel & Grau.

He named his six favorite books for The Week magazine. One title on the list:
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Forget what you think you know about the story. It starts as a fairly conventional gothic horror story—until you get to the last chapter. There, you find one of the greatest descriptions in literature of the battle between good and evil in the human heart. We are all good Dr. Jekylls, and the moral question put to each of us by the novel is the same: What will you do with the evil Mr. Hyde lurking in you?
Read about the other books on Martel's list.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde also appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best butlers in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ten of the best elections in literature

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

One book on the list:
Primary Colors, by Anonymous

Joe Klein's roman à clef fictionalises Bill Clinton's campaign through the Democrat Primaries. Jack Stanton, charmer and womaniser, seduces the narrator, Henry Burton, into working on his campaign. The novel's anonymity helped create the impression that this was political reality recorded by some privileged insider.
Read about the other books on Mullan's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 7, 2010

A few must-read family sagas

At Flashlight Worthy, Dominique Browning, author of Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas and Found Happiness, named a few somewhat overlooked must-read family sagas.

One trilogy on the list:
The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street
by Naguib Mahfouz

You can smell the spicy heat of Cairo's bustling streets as you read this trilogy — actually published as three books. They were written in the mid-fifties, and through three generations of a family, Mahfouz explores the ways in which social change disrupts — and enhances — people's ability to find meaning in their lives. He's especially good on the effects of a paternalistic society on the young women of the family; the books cover the period from 1919 to the end of World War II.
Read about the other books on the list.

Sugar Street appears on Mary Ann Glendon's five best list of literary works which excel in their depiction of religion and politics.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Top 10 illustrated books for adults

Jim Bob, was born James Neil Morrison, released his first records with the band Jamie Wednesday; after Jamie Wednesday, Jim Bob formed Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine with guitarist Fruitbat.

His autobiography Goodnight Jim Bob – On The Road With Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine was published in 2004. Jim Bob's Storage Stories, a "comic fictional autobiographical novel and collection of short stories," is published this month in the UK.

For the Guardian he named his top ten illustrated books for adults. One title on the list:
The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall

In this book, letters and numbers are used to form the pictures. I don't know how it was done, it looks like it must have taken a long time. There's a series of shark pictures towards the end of the book that are constructed from words and grow in size with each page so the shark appears to approach the reader. This is novel as flick book.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ten worst mothers in fiction

Last year came up with a list of the ten worst mothers in fiction.

One mother on the list:
Sarah from Little Children by Tom Perrotta

Sarah joins the ranks of the litany of literary mothers who neglect their children to focus the self gratification of an affair. While defiantly not the only woman in literature to commit this motherly sin she is getting singled out, I can only have ten on the list.
Read about the other mothers on the list.

Also see Kate Saunders' critic's chart of mothers and daughters in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Norris Church Mailer's five favorite memoirs

Norris Church Mailer is the author of A Ticket to the Circus: A Memoir (Random House, 2010).

For the Wall Street Journal, she named her five favorite memoirs. One title on her list:
By Myself and Then Some, by Lauren Bacall, Harper, 2005

Betty Bacall is one of the scant few women who have actually lived the secret dream of every girl in America: to be discovered by the editor of a magazine, put on the cover and then turned into a movie star. Diana Vreeland chose her for Harper's Bazaar in 1943 at age 18; soon after, Howard Hawks cast Bacall in "To Have and Have Not" opposite Humphrey Bogart (and changed her first name to Lauren). The actors fell in love: "I was aware of being nineteen and he forty-four, but when we were together that didn't seem to matter," she writes in "By Myself and Then Some." "I was older than nineteen in many ways and he had such energy and vitality he seemed to be no particular age." In spite of the age difference and his hard-drinking past, Bogart was the man for her. She knew it in her gut. They had an idyllic 11 years and two children together before death took him. Then truly alone, this tough, smart woman invented herself all over again, as a mature movie star, Broadway actress and author.
Read about the other memoirs on Mailer's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 3, 2010

Best true crime books

Sarah Weinman contributes to the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun, the New York Post and other publications; she blogs about at books Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.

A character named "Sarah Weinman" appears in Michael Connelly's Echo Park, Robert Crais's Hostage, and Sparkle Hayter's Naked Brunch.

She named her best true crime books for The Daily Beast. One title on the list:
In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote

In many ways, this is the ur-true crime text, defining the upper limit of what this often sneered-upon genre can do: use the story of one grisly act as a jumping-off point for larger considerations of the human condition. The bare bones of how Perry Smith and Dick Hickok tortured and killed the Clutter family are easily available via Wikipedia, but settling for the facts is like choosing McDonald's over Peter Luger's for your burger. In Cold Blood shows how Capote's narrative trickery, extensive research (with the help of his famous, reclusive cousin Harper Lee), account of the crime's impact on the small town of Holcomb, Kansas and personification with the murders illuminates Arendt-style banality of evil, and how thin the line that separates horror from normality.
Read about the other books on the list.

In Cold Blood also appears on Catherine Crier's five top crime books list, Ann Rule's five best list of true-crime books, and Bryan Burrough's six best books list. Kansas' first poet laureate Jonathan Holden's chose In Cold Blood for The Great Kansas novel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ten of the best visions of heaven in literature

For the Guardian, John Mullan named ten of the best visions of heaven in literature.

One book on the list:
Paradiso by Dante

After his tours of Hell and Purgatory, the poet has earned his trip upstairs. Guided by Beatrice, he ascends to the abode of angels, from where he can see the whole celestial mechanism of the nine heavenly spheres. Reaching the Empyrean, he sees "a light flowing like a river / Glowing with amber waves between two banks / Brilliantly painted by spellbinding spring".
Read about the other books on the list.

Dante is one of Angus Clarke's favorite religious poets.

The Divine Comedy also appears on Mullan's list of ten of the best visions of hell in literature. It is one of George Weigel's five essential books for understanding Christianity.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Six books for families grappling with aging parents

Gail Sheehy's latest book is Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos Into Confidence.

For The Week magazine, she recommended six titles for families grappling with aging parents. One book on the list:
They’re Your Parents, Too! by Francine Russo

Russo, a journalist who covered the baby boomer beat for Time, guides adult children of aging parents in how to win crucial help from your siblings instead of letting them drive you toward considering fratricide.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue