Saturday, July 31, 2010

John Inverdale's six best books

John Inverdale, a BBC TV and radio presenter, named his six best books for the Daily Express.

One title on his list:

Another classic which is a wonderfully passionate book and is set in one of my favourite parts of the country.

I read it at school and have revisited it on several occasions since and every time I read it I get something new from a novel rightly held in such high regard.
Read about the other books on Inverdale's list.

Wuthering Heights appears on Valerie Martin's list of novels about doomed marriages, Susan Cheever's list of the five best books about obsession, and Melissa Katsoulis' top 25 list of book to film adaptations.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 30, 2010

Philip Pullman's 6 best books

Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, named his six best books for the Daily Express.

One title on the list:
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The opening of this thrilling book never fails. Neither does the middle or the end. A perfect piece of clear, taut, vivid storytelling and one I re-read often to remind myself of what I’m trying to do.
Read about the other books on Pullman's list.

Treasure Island also appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best pirates in fiction.

Also see: Philip Pullman's forty favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Top 10 transformation stories

Ali Shaw graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in English literature and has since worked as a bookseller and at Oxford’s Bodleian Library.

The Girl with Glass Feet, his highly acclaimed first novel, won The Desmond Elliott Prize for 2010. The judges said: “After some soul searching and much debate, we decided on The Girl with Glass Feet as our winner. This is an extraordinary first novel - bold, original, tragic and endlessly surprising. In its exploration of frozen landscapes, both interior and exterior, and in its precisely detailed and articulated fantasy, it is possible to see a substantial author of the future.”

Shaw has described The Girl With Glass Feet as "a love story about a woman who is turning into glass."

For the Guardian, he named his top ten stories of transformation. One title on the list:
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The classic story of a man continuously transforming between good and evil incarnations of himself. It finds time to consider the psychological burden of Jekyll's condition without slowing down the rip-roaring adventure story at the heart of the book.
Read about the other books on the 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 and among Yann Martel's six favorite books.

Read an excerpt from Shaw's The Girl with Glass Feet, and learn more about the book and author at Ali Shaw's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Girl with Glass Feet.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Six great books about natural disasters

M. L. Malcolm is a Harvard Law graduate, journalist, recovering attorney, and public speaker who has won several awards for short fiction, including recognition in the Lorian Hemingway International Short Story Competition, and a silver medal from ForeWord magazine for Historical Fiction Book of the Year.

Her new novel is Heart of Lies.

For Flashlight Worthy, she named six great books on natural disasters. One title on the list:
Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America
by John M. Barry

Like most Americans I watched in horror during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as floodwaters destroyed huge sections of New Orleans, creating a scene of disaster and deprivation that we just didn't want to believe could happen in America. But then I read this book, and discovered that Katrina was yet another case of "déjà-vû all over again."

The Great Depression brought on the New Deal, but the flood of 1927 first, quite literally, cleared the way; the lasting impact of this calamity was its effect on the American political landscape. In the same way that the government's response to Hurricane Katrina aroused intense anger that, coupled with a major economic downturn, triggered an enormous change of Who's In Charge and What We Will Allow Them To Do About This Mess We're In, this earlier disaster and the government's inept reaction to it engendered a complete transformation of American society.

Barry does a great job of describing the terrifying events of the flood itself and the mismanagement that exacerbated it, but it's his follow-up of the sociological and political aftermath that sets this work apart from a typical disaster book.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Allen Barra's six favorite books

Critic, biographer, and sports columnist Allen Barra's latest book is Rickwood Field, A Century in America’s Oldest Ballpark.

He named his six favorite books for The Week magazine. One title on the list:
Pronto by Elmore Leonard

U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, a modern-day Wyatt Earp, inspired the main character­ in FX’s terrific series Justified. Typical dialogue: Raylan to hit man Tommy Bucks, “If you don’t choose to leave, then we have to play by your rules.” “I don’t have rules.” “That’s what I mean.”
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ten of the best nameless protagonists

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

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

Greene liked to find unusual names – Bendrix, Querry – for his protagonists, so his refusal to name the alcoholic Mexican priest on the run from the anti-clerical authorities is significant. The protagonist's discovery of a religious mission through danger and suffering is made a Greenian parable about the need for religious belief.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Power and the Glory
also appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best episodes of drunkenness in literature. It is one of seven books that made a difference to Colin Firth.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Five best novels on success

Tad Friend is the author of Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor.

For the Wall Street Journal he named a five best list of novels on success.

One title on the list:
True Grit
by Charles Portis

"True Grit" calls to mind Cormac McCarthy's sanguinary meditations on the border, but Charles Portis details the savagery of the 1870s frontier through an astonishing narrative voice: that of the 14-year-old Mattie Ross, a flinty, skeptical, Bible-thumping scourge. Mattie hires a federal marshal and rides into the Oklahoma territory to find the coward who shot her father, and her outrage brings order to the wilderness—an order predicated on the deaths of half a dozen outlaws, some of them guilty of rather little. The book is dryly hilarious yet gradually mournful, for Mattie is recalling these events years later, as a well-to-do but cranky spinster. Her readers know how much she had to offer, but no suitor ever saw it. For Mattie—and, Portis suggests, for the country—once the West was won, the rest was afterglow.
Read about the other books on the list.

True Grit also appears on Willy Vlautin's list of five great books set in the West and Jonathan Lethem's list of five terrific novels overshadowed by their film versions.

Also see Tad Friend's list of the seven best fiction books about WASPs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Books that made a difference to Isla Fisher

Last summer Isla Fisher (Confessions of a Shopaholic) named a list of books that made a difference in her life for O, The Oprah Magazine.

One novel on the list:
Lord of the Flies
by William Golding

This is a great story about a group of boys marooned on a tropical island after their plane is shot down during a war. They descend into madness and end up killing two of their companions, Piggy and Simon. I reread this book recently and found it interesting that Golding seems to imply that savagery is more primal and fundamental to the human psyche than civilization. That idea is fascinating—and so are the questions it raises: If people were left to their own devices, would savagery ensue or would people live by the rules and be nice? Which is the most powerful impulse within us?
Read about the other books on Fisher's list.

Lord of the Flies is on AbeBooks' list of 20 books of shattered childhoods and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King. It appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best pairs of glasses in literature and ten of the best horrid children in literature, and William Skidelsky's list of ten of the best accounts of being marooned in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 23, 2010

Five best books about appeasement

Bruce Bawer is the author of Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of books on appeasement.

One title on the list:
Guilty Men
by "Cato"

This brief, impassioned j'accuse, written under the pseudonym Cato by British journalists Michael Foot, Peter Howard and Frank Owen, was churned out and published at lightning speed in July 1940, a month after the British escape at Dunkirk from the German army advancing through France. It was a fateful moment, as Foot recalled in a 1988 preface, when the "shameful" era of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's feckless leadership had ended and "English people could look into each other's eyes with recovered pride and courage." To read "Guilty Men" now is to feel Englishmen's shock at the might of the Nazi war machine and to share the authors' rage at the obtuseness of the appeasers (Chamberlain and 14 others are listed) who sweet-talked Hitler in Munich, agreeing in 1938 to let him annex part of Czechoslovakia, and mocked Winston Churchill for assailing conciliation and urging rearmament. This urgent piece of journalism made appeasement and Chamberlain's infamous claim, upon returning from Munich, of having secured "peace in our time" synonymous with naïveté and cowardice.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lindsay Lohan's jailhouse reading list

Avi Steinberg, a former prison librarian, is the author of the forthcoming book, Running the Books, due out in November.

For The Daily Beast, he named a brief list of books Lindsay Lohan should read while serving her jail sentence. One book on the list:
by Mary Karr

On her Twitter page, Lohan refers to herself as “a writer.” She has been working on a memoir for over a year now. What type of writer is she? It’s unlikely that she herself has the answer to this question. She will discover some hints in the writings of others. If she wishes to do something more than a celebrity memoir and not fall into the traps of the hard-luck memoir, she should acquaint herself with some of the best writers working today. Mary Karr’s subjects—addiction, a circus-like upbringing, hard-partying friends—will undoubtedly echo with Lohan. But it’s her style that is unique, her blend of humor and bracing honesty, the refusal to lay the blame on others, the attempt to use stories to empathize with her foes and not to settle scores or to merely absolve herself—these are the authorial attributes that Karr can teach Lohan, the writer. Perhaps reading Karr will make Lohan understand that a person is rarely either a victim or a perpetrator, but very often both. I’ve seen prison inmates gain this precise insight from reading Karr. In fact, I’ve gained it from them speaking about Karr.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Top ten memento mori

Greg Baxter is a fiction writer and essayist who lives in Dublin. He is the author of A Preparation for Death (Penguin Ireland, 2010). He worked as a Creative Writing tutor in the Irish Writers’ Centre from 2006 to 2009, before launching the Workshops at Some Blind Alleys. He has published essays and short stories in journals such as the Dublin Review, Cincinnati Review, and Southwest Review. He regularly reviews for the Irish Times.

For the Guardian, he named his top ten books that remind us of our own mortality. One classic on the list:
Death of Embarrassment: Ecce Homo by Friedrich Nietzsche

When your books are misunderstood and dismissed as the desperate and nonsensical ramblings of a lunatic, you can attempt to change your ways, become more acceptable, and please the greatest number of people. Or you can plunge yourself deeper into lunacy, write for the future, and call yourself a destiny. Who but a lunatic allows himself to say: "I am not a man. I am dynamite"?
Read about the other entries on Baxter's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

12 uniquely American sci-fi & fantasy novels and stories

John T. Ottinger of Grasping For The Wind came up with a list of 12 science fiction and fantasy novels and stories that are uniquely American.

One title on the list:
Topping the list is, ironically, a book by a Brit. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, celebrates America's love of the sometimes weird and wacky with a multiple award winning novel. Its one of my personal favorites, not least of which is because the final battle between the Gods, the Ragnarok, takes place not 3 miles from where I earned my bachelor's degree, at the iconic Rock City. (Tangentially, another book in this vein, if you are interested, is Norse Code by Greg Van Eekhout.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ten of the best card games in literature

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

One novel on the list:
Oscar and Lucinda, by Peter Carey

The eponymous protagonists of Carey's novel, set in the 19th century, meet on a voyage from England to Australia. They are brought together by their shared love of gambling, enjoying a long, sexily tense, one- on-one game of poker for penny bets. Never will either be happier.
Read about the other books on the list.

Oscar and Lucinda also appears on the Guardian's list of ten of the best unconsummated passions in fiction and Elise Valmorbida's top ten list of books on the migrant experience.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Five best Australian novels

Nicholas Jose has published short stories, essays, several acclaimed novels, and a memoir. He is Chair in Writing at the University of Western Sydney and Visiting Chair of Australian Studies at Harvard University for 2009-2010. He is general editor of the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature which is published internationally as The Literature of Australia.

At FiveBooks, Daisy Banks asked him about his five best Australian novels. One title they discussed:
[Banks]: Your first book is Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, by M Barnard Eldershaw.

It was written during the Second World War by two women in collaboration. Marjorie Barnard, who was a librarian, and Flora Eldershaw, who was an historian, and they took a very long view in the book. It is set in Sydney but it goes right back to a mythical past and then it also goes forward into a completely futuristic world, because at that time they imagined that Australia could easily be wiped out because of the war, and then the threat of nuclear war that emerged out of that. They were left-wing people and they believed that a whole new world order might be possible. But this would involve the destruction of the old order. So it is quite a remarkable book because of its sweep and visionary quality.

A lot of the novel is set in the Depression and deals with the very difficult circumstances of people trudging through the city and feeling hopeless. But then the novel has this incredible energy of imagining the whole place burning and people fleeing and this futuristic world at the end.

It sounds similar to those apocalyptic films that have been made over the past few years. What was the reaction at the time?

Well it is very much in that vein. What happened at the time is that it was heavily abridged for publication in 1947 and a lot of the politics and the most scary stuff was removed and it was only in 1983 when Virago in London published the unabridged version that you really could read the novel, and I think that is one of the reasons why it is not as well known as it might be.

And what makes it a great novel for you?
I love it because it is just such a huge imaginative picture. I really like the large canvas, and then I find the characters and how they struggle to make sense of things in that very difficult environment of the 1930s and 40s very moving. It is very close up on these people.
Read about the other books on Jose's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Stella Rimington's 6 favorite secret agent novels

Stella Rimington joined Britain’s Security Service (MI5) in 1969. During her nearly thirty-year career she worked in all the main fields of the Service’s responsibilities—counter subversion, counter espionage and counter terrorism—and successively became Director of all three branches. Appointed Director General of MI5 in 1992, she was the first woman to hold the post and the first Director General whose name was publicly announced on appointment. Following her retirement from MI5 in 1996, she published her autobiography, Open Secret, in the United Kingdom. She is also the author of the novels: At Risk, Secret Asset, Illegal Action and the newly released Dead Line.

She named her 6 favorite secret agent novels for The Week magazine. One title on the list:
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré

Le Carré’s 1974 novel about the search for a mole in British intelligence has a cast of wonderful characters, many of whom are reminiscent of people I met back in the 1970s: mild-mannered George Smiley; Connie Sachs—retired and gin-sodden, but still with an impeccable memory. The jargon of “ferrets,” “lamplighters,” and “the Circus” makes us all insiders.
Read about the other books on the list.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is on John Mullan's list of ten of the best pairs of glasses in literature; Peter Millar includes it among John le Carré's best books.

Also see Rimington's five best list of books about spies in Britain and a 2009 list of her six best books.

Read Rimington's answer to the question: Which fictional character most resembles you?

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 16, 2010

Six great novels on work

James P. Othmer is a former creative director at advertising giant Young & Rubicam, and the author of the novels Holy Water and The Futurist.

He named six great business novels for The Daily Beast. One title on the list:
Revolutionary Road
by Richard Yates

Though much of Yates’ painfully realistic classic is set in the leafy suburbs, every twist of its whiskey, adultery, and smoke-laden plot revolves around the professional ups and downs of Frank Wheeler. Wheeler is a tragic corporate hack who believes a better life for him and wife April is just around the next paycheck, yet he has neither the drive or courage to pursue it. The set piece in which Yates describes the way Wheeler avoids responsibility by strategically moving paper to various desktop inboxes throughout the office is disturbing and true and analogous of the way in which he shirks the larger responsibilities of his life. Compared to Frank and April Wheeler, Don and Betty Draper are a couple of lightweights.
Read about the other books on the list.

Revolutionary Road also appears on Laura Dave's list of books that improve on re-reading and Tad Friend's seven best fiction books about WASPs.

Visit James P. Othmer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Top 10 truly bad books

Robin Ince is an award winning comedian and writer in the UK. He won the Time Out Award for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy for his show The Book Club which was also nominated for a British Comedy Award and hailed by The Observer as "the outstanding literary event of the Edinburgh Festival."

For the Guardian, he named a top ten list of truly bad books. One title on the list:
Godless by Ann Coulter

If you want to know just how misguided anti-evolutionists can be and how determined to be stupid they are, Ann is a good start as she mulls on why, if evolution does exist, a worm doesn't evolve into a beagle and how there aren't any transitional fossils (apart from the ever-increasing collection of them). A magnificent view of what happens to your mind if you never let facts get in the way of it.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Polly Frost's favorite 20th century funny novels

Polly Frost is the author of the humor book With One Eye Open. Her humor has been published in The New Yorker, the New York Times, Grin & Tonic, The Atlantic and Narrative.

For Flashlight Worthy, she named her favorite 20th century funny novels. One title on the list:
The Player
by Michael Tolkin

It's not as though the 20th century hasn't delivered tons of high-quality Hollywood satires, but Tolkin's comedy about the moviemaking world nails the high-concept world of the '80s once and for all. You don't have to be a movie buff to enjoy Tolkin's inside jokes: the Yuppie values he skewers in The Player extend beyond Hollywood meetings.
Read about the other books on Frost's list.

The Player is one of Joe Keenan's five sharpest satires on what some people do to make it in Hollywood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Five great California novels

Janelle Brown named five great California novels for the Wall Street Journal.

One novel on the list:
Play It As It Lays, by Joan Didion:

Another dark Hollywood novel, about an actress in the late 1960’s, drifting idly through a wasteland of casual sex, pills, abortion and mental illness. Mimicked by many since, Didion’s novel still holds up as an indictment of youthful ennui and the hollow center of the entertainment industry.
Read about the other books on the list.

Play It As It Lays also appears on Janet Fitch's book list.

Also see: The Great California Novel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ten of the best caves in literature

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

One book on the list:
The Odyssey by Homer

In the land of the troglodyte Cyclops, Odysseus and 12 of his men visit the cave of the giant Polyphemus to ask him for food. But he makes them prisoners in his lair, which is sealed by a giant rock. Each day he eats a couple of them. How will they escape?
Read about the other caves on the list.

The Odyssey also made Mullan's lists ten of the best shipwrecks in literature, ten of the best monsters in literature, and ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, as well as Carsten Jensen's list of the top ten seafaring tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Five best books about doctors' lives

Abraham Verghese is a professor of medicine at Stanford University. His books include the novel Cutting for Stone and the memoir My Own Country.

For the Wall Street Journal he named a five best list of books about doctors' lives.

One title on the list:
Mortal Lessons
by Richard Selzer

I read "Mortal Lessons" as a medical student and was astonished by the prose, the introspection, the lyricism of this practicing surgeon. Richard Selzer is the model "physician-writer," if there is such a thing, in that he does so much more than cater to readers' sometimes prurient interest in things medical; his language is baroque and musical, his epiphanies profound and personal. Here he is writing about the stomach: "Yet, interrupt for a time the care and feeding of this sack of appetite, do it insult with no matter how imagined a slight, then turns the worm to serpent that poisons the intellect for thought, the soul for poetry, the heart for love."
Read about the other books on the list.

See--Writers Read: Abraham Verghese.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Shirley Henderson's six best books

Shirley Henderson is a Scottish actor who played Jude in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter film series, and appeared in Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting. She stars in Todd Solondz’s Life During Wartime.

She named her six best books for the Daily Express. One novel on the list:
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

I loved the title of this book. I wanted the story to be full of crimes from the past that are yet to be solved, dark secrets revealed and everyone and everything in the stories somehow connected. It was all that I wished for and more, a brilliant read.
Read about the other books on Henderson's list.

See Kate Atkinson's top ten novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 9, 2010

Top 10 pubs in literature

Richard Francis writes both fiction and non-fiction. He has published nine novels so far, a book on utopian thought and biographies of Ann Lee, the founder of the Shakers and of Samuel Sewall, the only one of the Salem Witch trial judges to admit the whole thing was a miscarriage of justice.

He has two books due out in 2010. The Old Spring is a novel set in a pub and will be published by Tindal Street Press this month. Fruitlands: The Alcott Family, The Englishmen, and Utopia, is non-fiction and gives an account of an eccentric and ill-starred utopian experiment that was set up in Massachusetts in 1843 by Bronson Alcott, the father of the author Louisa May Alcott, who was in fact a child at the community.

Francis named his top ten literary pubs for the Guardian. One novel on the list:
Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens (1864-5)

Another redoubtable landlady, Miss Abbey Potterson of the Six Jolly Fellowship Porters in Limehouse (giving upon the river), reigns "supreme upon her throne, the Bar", and is more than a match for the villainous Rogue Riderhood. She serves delectable "Purl, Flip, and Dog's Nose", but can draw the line when she has to. "I am the law here, my man," she tells a protesting customer, "and I'll soon convince you of that, if you doubt it at all." But later in the novel she takes care of Jenny Wren, combining, as a good landlady should, a firm hand and a warm heart.
Read about the other entries on the list.

In the season finale of season two of Lost, the character Desmond says he carries around Charles Dickens' Our Mutual Friend because he wants that to be the last book he reads before dying.

The opening paragraph:
In these times of ours, though concerning the exact year there is no need to be precise, a boat of dirty and disreputable appearance, with two figures in it, floated on the Thames, between Southwark bridge which is of iron, and London Bridge which is of stone, as an autumn evening was closing in.
--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The 10 best credit crunch books

Ruth Sunderland is business editor of The Observer. She came up with a list of the ten best credit crunch books.

One title on the list:
Fool's Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream… by Gillian Tett

An elegant and expert account by the UK's most prescient financial journalist of how bankers at JP Morgan invented the credit derivatives that were perverted into instruments of mass destruction. FT writer Tett, who has a doctorate in social anthropology, is fascinating on how an elite banking "tribe" gained so much power over the rest of society. Readers will have to decide for themselves whether she lets off JP Morgan too lightly.
Read about the other books on the list.

Fool's Gold appears on Tim Bennett's five best list of books on the latest financial crash.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Five best books on disgrace

Rachel Cusk is the author of the memoirs A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother and The Last Supper: A Summer in Italy, and of seven novels: Saving Agnes, which won the Whitbread First Novel Award; The Temporary; The Country Life, which won a Somerset Maugham Award; The Lucky Ones, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award; In the Fold; Arlington Park, which was shortlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction; and The Bradshaw Variations.

For the Wall Street Journal, she named a five best list of books on disgrace. One novel on the list.
by Sinclair Lewis
Harcourt, Brace, 1922

George F. Babbitt is a family man, community pillar and real-estate agent with an almost religious zeal for his way of life in the fictitious boom city of Zenith. He is even a member of a club called the Boosters, whose sole purpose is to celebrate and vaunt Zenith's virtues wherever possible. Yet Babbitt contains a dangerous grain or two of sensitivity, enough for him to wonder occasionally what would happen if he didn't "boost." In his most private moments he can admit that he finds his wife dull, his children irritating, his job unfulfilling. And one way or another these thoughts cease to be so private: Babbitt becomes, without ever quite meaning to, something of a dissenter. His consequent rejection by his community is instant and vicious, frightening in its middle-class brutality.
Read about the other books on the list.

Rachel Cusk's Arlington Park is one of Adam Thorpe's top 10 satires.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ten of the best pianos in literature

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

One novel on the list:
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Amelia and Becky – the good girl and the bad girl – both play the piano, but look at their different styles! After her husband's death, Amelia "spends long evening hours, touching ... melancholy harmonies on the keys, and weeping over them in silence". Becky, meanwhile, entrances the wife of the man she is seducing with the bogus "tenderness" of her renditions of Mozart.
Read about the other pianos on Mullan's list.

Vanity Fair also appears on Thomas Mallon's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 5, 2010

Twelve best fiction titles of the summer

For The Daily Beast, Janice Kaplan named the twelve best fiction titles of the summer.

One novel on the list:
Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross

In his bold debut novel Mr. Peanut, Adam Ross offers a stunning view on marriage—and the fine line dividing love from hate. The noir-ish plot and brilliant writing keep you turning pages, and even the implausibility of some events seems part of the crazed haze we enter in states of passion. The story revolves around a man who loves his wife but dreams (from page one) of her dead. When she chokes to death on a peanut, can anyone prove he killed her? One of the detectives is Sam Sheppard—yes, the man jailed for killing his wife—and a long section about that unsolved murder adds to the nightmarish intrigue. My husband slept gently next to me as I read—and I did think of hiding all knives before I turned out the light.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Karin Slaughter's 6 best books

Karin Slaughter is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of numerous thrillers, including Undone, Beyond Reach, Triptych, and Faithless. Her new novel is Broken.

She named her six best books for the Daily Express.

One book on her list:
Skin by Mo Hayder

This sequel to Hayder’s novel Ritual is even better. Her detective Jack Caffrey is an amazing character and I like reading about the situations he gets into with the Met’s murder squad. She tells tough stories. She’s really a little tougher than me. The diving scenes have helped me with the research for my next book.
Read about the other books on Slaughter's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 3, 2010

7 poetry books to ignite your imagination

Glen Roven is an Emmy Award-winning composer, lyricist, and conductor and co-founder of GPR Records.

For Flashlight Worthy, he selected a list of seven poetry books to ignite your imagination. One title on the list:
The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems
by Michael Ondaatje

Ondaatje is best known for using language that captures the landscapes of dreams. "The Cinnamon Peeler," found in this collection, is a love poem enhanced by sensory information like scent, touch, and sound. Looking for that special someone? "The Cinnamon Peeler" truly captures the ways we can push our minds and our hearts to love another person deeply and fully. Read by singer and actor Michael Cerveris on "Poetic License," Ondaatje's poem is a testament to true love....
Read about the other poetry books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bill Clegg's favorite memoirs

For The Daily Beast, Bill Clegg, author of Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man, named his five favorite memoirs.

One title on the list:
by Ian Frazier

Ian Frazier could write about a paper bag, and he’d be both charming and profound (I think he has, actually), and this memoir—simultaneously about his growing up in Ohio and the more than century-old history of his family—is both. The last pages and the very last lines of the book are magnificent.
Read about the other memoirs on Clegg's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The ten best music memoirs

Pop critic Kitty Empire picked the best rock autobiographies for the Observer.

One title on her list:
Mötley Crüe: The Dirt by Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx and Vince Neil, with contributions from Neil Strauss

Mötley Crüe were the kind of band that thought This Is Spinal Tap was a real documentary and that Hammer Of The Gods – Led Zeppelin's scurrilous, legendary biography – a thrown gauntlet. The debauchery of their 80s tenure is probably unparalleled, and their tale both tragic and hilarious. But perhaps the most insidious revelations concern the human beings behind the cartoon rock pigs: elder statesman Mick Mars's crippling disease and Tommy Lee's razor-sharp wit.
Read about the other music memoirs on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue