Thursday, June 30, 2022

Top 10 stories of male friendship

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

His new novel is The Sidekick.

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Eight titles exploring the transgressions of young women

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Five of the best novels with devilishly unreliable narrators

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 27, 2022

Seven top books about underdogs

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 26, 2022

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Ten top works of fabulist fiction

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

Harlan's debut short story collection is Fruiting Bodies.

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 24, 2022

Four top books featuring female con artists

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

Clark's new novel is The Lies I Tell.

[Coffee with a Canine: Julie Clark & Teddy]

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

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

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

The Page 69 Test: Pretty Things.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Top 10 books about terrible jobs

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Five titles about the history we never learned

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

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

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

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

The Page 99 Test: Six-Legged Soldiers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Seven top crime novels with first person narrators

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 20, 2022

Five extremely pessimistic SF classics

At James Davis Nicoll tagged "five intensely depressing SF novels from the long, long ago," including:
Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm (1976)

Humanity has industriously worked glorious transformation on the Earth, the equal of the End Permian and the End Cretaceous, perhaps even the Great Oxidization Event. It’s an achievement in which to take pride, save for the pesky detail that humanity itself is among the species being quickly ushered towards mass extinction by pollution and radiation-induced infertility. Personal doom can be such a downer on an otherwise momentous occasion.

Fortuitously for the Sumner clan, not only are they largely indifferent to the fate of people with the poor taste not to be Sumners, and not only are their vast Shenandoah Valley holdings an ideal redoubt in which to wait out the collapse of civilization, their great wealth has provided them with the means to circumvent infertility and thus extinction: cloning. A succession of perfect genetic replicas will ensure the Sumner legacy survives. Or so it appears, before certain previously undocumented features inherent in cloning manifest…
Read about the other entries on the list at

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Ten books about actors and acting

Elly Griffiths is the author of the Ruth Galloway and Brighton mystery series, as well as the standalone novels The Stranger Diaries, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel, and The Postscript Murders. She is the recipient of the CWA Dagger in the Library Award and the Mary Higgins Clark Award.

[The Page 69 Test: The Crossing PlacesMy Book, The Movie: The House at Sea’s EndThe Page 69 Test: A Room Full of BonesThe Page 69 Test: A Dying Fall]

Griffith's newest Ruth Galloway mystery is The Locked Room.

At The Strand Magazine she tagged her "top ten of books about actors and acting," including:
The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Janice Hallett’s first novel was an instant bestseller. Consisting almost entirely of emails, it explores that most deadly of entities, an amateur dramatic society. The murderer hides between the lines. Original, funny and very clever.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Beth Morrey called The Appeal "completely gripping, highly original and slyly funny."

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Eight titles about the delights of delusion

Ashley Hutson is a writer living in rural Maryland. Her work has appeared in Granta, Electric Literature, Catapult, Fanzine, and elsewhere. Her honors include the 2018 Small Fictions Award, judged by Aimee Bender, and several Pushcart Prize nominations.

Hutson's new novel, One's Company, is among BuzzFeed's Must-Read Summer Books.

At Electric List she tagged eight books "about characters who create their own version of reality," including:
The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark

“You’re not my type!” Lise, the main character, screams this phrase at other people as she hunts for someone to assist in her own annihilation. The plot of this book unfolds over the span of a couple days in an unnamed European country, and follows erratic Lise as she searches for The One.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 17, 2022

Ten books for fans of "Sex and the City"

Jane L. Rosen is an author and screenwriter whose critically acclaimed first novel, Nine Women, One Dress, has been translated into ten languages. Katie Couric called her novel Eliza Starts a Rumor “A smart, engaging treat for Big Little Lies fans. The perfect summer read!” Rosen lives in New York City and on Fire Island with her husband and three daughters.

[The Page 69 Test: Eliza Starts a Rumor; My Book, The Movie: Eliza Starts a Rumor]

Rosen's new novel is A Shoe Story.

At CrimeReads she tagged ten books perfect for fans of Sex and the City, including:
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

Major SATC vibes in this fashionable tale of the rise and fall of an eager assistant to an impossibly demanding editor-in-chief
of a fashion magazine—“loosely” based on the legendarily demanding boss, Anna Wintour of Vogue. If you have gotten this far down the list, my gut tells me you have at least seen the movie, but if you haven’t also read the book, you are missing out. Fun fact: Like Weisberger’s protagonist Andrea Sachs, Carrie Bradshaw also spent time in the famous Vogue shoe closet in the HBO series based on the Candace Bushnell novel.

Favorite NYC Quote: “By all means, move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Devil Wears Prada is among Emma Glass's seven best books about burnout, Deborah Parker's ten of the biggest sycophants from literature and history, and Joseph Connolly's ten top novels about style.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Top 10 forests in fiction

Zoe Gilbert's first novel, Folk, was shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and adapted for BBC Radio (read by the brilliant Samantha Spiro). She has just finished turning some of the chapters from Folk into a libretto, for a song cycle that will have its world premiere in 2023.

Her recently released second novel, Mischief Acts, is inspired by the past and future of the Great North Wood, which used to cover a large swathe of South London.

At the Guardian Gilbert tagged ten top forests in fiction, including:
The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge

I looked first to Bainbridge’s Another Part of the Wood, but there the forest is barely heeded by the bickering campers. No, it is in The Bottle Factory Outing that her doomed picnickers dance constantly across the boundary between park and wood, from football games and flirtation to the sinister shade of the trees. Here, stones are thrown by invisible hands, and far worse is to come. Bainbridge directs her symbolic forest with wicked precision, squeezing the blackest humour from its shadows.
Read about the other entries on the list at the Guardian.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Six great works at the intersection of crime & literary fiction

Adam White grew up in Damariscotta, Maine, and now lives with his wife and son in Boston, where he teaches writing and coaches lacrosse. He holds an MFA from Columbia University.

The Midcoast is his first novel.

At CrimeReads White tagged six "great works of literary fiction that take, as their subjects, characters who’ve chosen a life of crime." One title on the list:
American Pastoral, Philip Roth

At the heart of this novel is a bombing. The bombing is an act of domestic terrorism or political protest, depending on your perspective. And this novel offers a masterclass in perspective. The bomb destroys a post office in a small idyllic town, but what Roth—and his narrator, Zuckerman—are most interested in is what’s been packed around the detonator, all the shrapnel of American life. Specifically upper-class Jewish life in New Jersey, although that’s a description of the book that doesn’t get nearly specific enough. The life of Swede Levov—former athlete, blond Jew, married to a former Miss New Jersey named Dawn—becomes a full life, a real life, and by the end of the book we know him to the bones, and we understand why the criminal acts that have torn apart his family represent the kind of detonations that ripped apart the country in the middle of the last century.
Read about the other entries on the list.

American Pastoral is on Lionel Shriver’s list of four favorite novels about terrorism, Justin Cartwright's top ten list of novels about societies under stress, Sheila Hancock's list of her six best books, Maria Semple's list of her six best books, and among Ward Just's five favorite novels about the pursuit of money. It appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best riots in literature and Jason Diamond's list of "The 50 Most Essential Works Of Jewish Fiction Of The Last 100 Years."

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Twenty-six of the best erotic novels

Mehera Bonner is a celebrity and entertainment news writer who enjoys Bravo and Antiques Roadshow with equal enthusiasm.

At Marie Claire she tagged 26 of the "best erotic novels that will leave you seriously blushing and maybe, just maybe, needing a cold shower afterward." One title on the list:
A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught

The year is 1497, and Scottish Jennifer Merrick finds herself agreeing to marry a much older man to please her father. But that never happens, because Jennifer and her step-sister Brenna are taken by Englishman Lord Royce Westmoreland (known as the Black Wolf) as a hostage. They should be enemies, but something keeps drawing them closer.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 13, 2022

Seven titles about being a queer immigrant

David Santos Donaldson was raised in Nassau, Bahamas, and has lived in India, Spain, and the United States. He attended Wesleyan University and the Drama Division of the Juilliard School, and his plays have been commissioned by the Public Theater. He was a finalist for the Urban Stages Emerging Playwright Award and has worked as the Artistic Director for the Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts in Nassau, Bahamas. Donaldson is currently a practicing psychotherapist, and divides his time between Brooklyn, New York, and Seville, Spain. Greenland is his first novel.

At Electric Lit he tagged "seven novels [that] collectively give a wide perspective from the queer immigrant’s vantage point," including:
Latin Moon in Manhattan by Jaime Manrique

In this rollicking picaresque novel, Manrique’s protagonist, Santiago Martinez, is a young Colombian poet, navigating his way through the turbulent—and often hilarious—trials of being both gay and a newly-arrived immigrant in New York City in the 1980s. From a rural Colombian upbringing (where bestiality is presented as common place for boys’ sexual initiations), to the social world of the drug-dealing rich Colombian families and their literary politics in Queens, to the life a of a lone gay writer living in Times Square (along with its sex workers and their pimps), we fall in love with Santiago and his take on the new worlds he encounters. In Latin Moon in Manhattan, Manrique brilliantly pulls off a novel that is, at once, literary, social critique, comic, tragic, and heartwarming. Quite a feat.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electric Lit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Seven top attempted assassination thrillers

William Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels, an award-winning PBS documentary, book reviews, magazine articles, and a cult-classic horror movie, too.

In novels like Back Bay, City of Dreams, The Lost Constitution, The Lincoln Letter, and Bound for Gold, he has told stories of the great and the anonymous of American history, and he’s taken readers from the deck of the Mayflower to 9/11. His work has earned him many accolades and honors, including the 2005 New England Book Award, the 2015 Samuel Eliot Morison Award, and the 2019 Robert B. Parker Award.

Martin's new novel is December ’41.

At CrimeReads he tagged seven top notch attempted assassination thrillers, including:
Night Work by David C. Taylor (2016)

So, how about Castro as a target? In April 1959, he visits New York City. And plenty of people want him dead, like the Mobsters who’ve lost their casinos, the Cubans who’ve lost their power, and the American businessmen who may lose control of their Cuban market. Three professionals are on their way from Miami to take care of their problem. The FBI and the CIA turn a blind eye. If Castro dies, their hands are clean. When Fidel gives a speech in Central Park, only New York cop Michael Cassidy stands between him and the assassins. David C. Taylor turned to novel writing after a career as a screenwriter, and he’s damn good at it. This one, the second in a series, builds to a slam-bang finale involving the assassination, $100,000 in stolen Mob money, cameos from Meyer Lansky and other marquee mobsters.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Five books about fragile worlds

Erin Swan was born in Manhattan and lived there for ten years until her family moved upstate, where she started writing stories and poems. She used her early adulthood to travel, write children’s books, and work for a literary agency before going to teach English in India and Thailand. Swan earned her MA from Teacher’s College at Columbia University and began teaching in New York’s public school system in 2008.

[Q&A with Erin Swan; The Page 69 Test: Walk the Vanished Earth]

While teaching full-time, Swan attended the MFA program at the New School and graduated with a degree in fiction. Her work has been published in various journals, including Portland Review, Atticus Review, The South Carolina Review, and Inkwell Journal, and her stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

Walk the Vanished Earth is Swan's first novel.

At she tagged "five books that feature fragile worlds. Though they come from different genres, each one explores this tension between apparent weakness and actual strength, between our known world and others that may exist, if only we can discover how to part the curtain between them." One title on the list:
Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

The world in this debut novel is not fragile at all. It is solid, substantial, grindingly and exhaustingly real, cluttered with playgrounds and plastic toys, library reading circles and perfectly groomed moms with perfectly groomed kids. It is the protagonist’s grasp of this world that is tenuous. To her, reality seems a mirage, set in place to distract her from her true self, a formerly autonomous woman now swamped by motherhood and its demands. Initially called only “the mother,” the main character is an artist who has paused her career to care for her son while her husband travels for work. She knows she should value this privilege – it’s a dream life, is it not? – but she is worn out, physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted. Then, one day, while listening to her son cry, she discovers something new: rage. As Yoder tells us, “That single, white-hot light at the center of the darkness of herself – that was the point of origin from which she birthed something new, from which all women do.” Soon she discovers other things: an odd patch of hair at her neck’s nape, sharper canines, a ravenous appetite for raw steak. A delightfully feral look at what it means to be a mother, a wife, and a woman in contemporary American society, Nightbitch gives us a character unafraid to crawl into the night on all fours, ready to snap the thin line between one world and the next with her teeth. I would love to see Nightbitch and Karen Reyes from My Favorite Thing Is Monsters meet. I imagine they would have a great deal to say, or perhaps howl, to each other.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 10, 2022

Eight wedding novels for all the lovers and the haters

Celia Laskey is the author of So Happy for You and Under the Rainbow, a finalist for the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Her other work has appeared in Guernica, The Minnesota Review, Day One, and elsewhere. She has an MFA from the University of New Mexico and currently lives in Los Angeles with her wife and their dog Whiskey.

At Lit Hub Lasky tagged eight novels for "either a wedding lover who gets teary-eyed at every ceremony and hits the dance floor hard at the reception, or a wedding hater who begrudgingly buys plane tickets, bristling at the disturbing sameness of most weddings." One of the titles for a wedding hater:
Lucy Foley, The Guest List

Wedding novel meets murder mystery in this thriller about a splashy wedding on a remote island off the coast of Ireland. The main characters include the bridezilla, the bridesmaid, the best man, the wedding planner, the plus one… and the body! Much like any novel for wedding haters, resentments and jealousies come to the surface over the course of the wedding, but these ones are big enough to propel a murder.
Read about the other entries on the list at Lit Hub.

Also see: the six most momentous weddings in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Top 10 novels about things that go wrong on islands

Rebecca Rukeyser is the recipient of the inaugural Berlin Senate grant for non-German literature. Her fiction has appeared in such publications as ZYZZYVA, The Massachusetts Review, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She earned her M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and teaches fiction writing at Bard College Berlin.

Rukeyser's new novel is The Seaplane on Final Approach.

At the Guardian she tagged ten books that "might be termed 'beach reads,' although they may make you reconsider ever spending time on a beach again." One title on the list:
The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa (1994)

On an unnamed island sunk in perpetual winter, things keep disappearing. After the disappearance of these things – emeralds, birds, roses, all boats and ferries to the mainland – the knowledge of them gently fades from the minds of most of the islanders, except for the unlucky few whose intact memories arouse the wrath of the jackbooted Memory Police. Our protagonist, a novelist, is unburdened by memories, but she learns her beloved editor remembers everything.
Read about the other entries on the list at the Guardian.

The Memory Police is among Aliya Whiteley's five SFF books about division and separation and Lincoln Michel's eight great novels where things disappear.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Nine books about interracial relationships

Kasim Ali works at Penguin Random House, and has previously been shortlisted for Hachette’s Mo Siewcherran Prize and longlisted for the 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize, and has contributed to The Good Journal.

Good Intentions is his debut novel.

He comes from Birmingham and lives in London.

At Electric Lit Ali tagged nine favorite books about interracial relationships, including:
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng never fails to make me sob. I spent a Sunday afternoon lying in bed, sunbeams pushing their way through the blinds on the windows, crying at the end.

Ng is an expert in relationships, concisely exploring them in impossible depths given that neither of her books break over 400 pages. The catalyst for the novel is the disappearance of Lydia, a beloved teenager living in a small-town in 1970s Ohio. A big theme of the book is race: the father, James, is Chinese, and the mother, Marilyn, is white. This not only affects their children, how they see themselves and how the world sees them, but also the parents themselves, and Ng writes about the complexities beautifully.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Everything I Never Told You is among Rachel Donohue's seven “coming-of-age” novels with elements of mystery or the supernatural.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Seven top unlikeable characters in thrillers

Jaime Lynn Hendricks is an author with nearly 20 years experience in print media and marketing. She lives with her husband in New Jersey.

It Could Be Anyone is her second novel.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven thrillers featuring "despicable characters that I loved to read." One entry on the list:
JULES WORTHINGTON-SMITH, For The Best, Vanessa Lillie

Jules has been named a person of interest in a murder investigation, but she was blackout drunk when it happened. While attempting to clear her name, she never learns from her mistake and keeps herself hopped up on wine, gin, cooking sherry—whatever she can get her hands on, consequences of her alcoholism be damned. Why did I love this terrible character? She was written to be this way, and the reader will sympathize with her past while wincing at her behavior. And when you root for someone like that to solve the case against her, you’re in for a wild love/hate relationship.
Read about the other entries on the list.

For The Best is among Ashley Winstead's seven novels that explore collective guilt & individual complicity.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 6, 2022

Ten of the best books on heartbreak

Jessie Stephens is a Sydney-based writer and podcaster, with a Master’s degree in History and Gender Studies. She’s the assistant head of content at Mamamia and co-host of the podcast Mamamia Out Loud. She also hosts Mamamia’s True Crime Conversations and Book Club podcasts, where she’s had the pleasure of interviewing some of her favorite authors.

Heartsick: Three Stories about Love, Pain, and What Happens in Between is her first book.

At Lit Hub Stephens shared a reading list for love, loss, and everything in between. One title on the list:
Dolly Alderton, Ghosts

If you’ve ever experienced the pain of being ghosted by someone you’re falling for, Ghosts will be incredibly cathartic. Nina Dean is in her early thirties, with a thriving career and strong friendships. She meets Max and, as their relationship deepens, she lets herself believe that he might be The One. Alderton’s novel is all about trying to grieve a person who disappeared, without sending so much as a text message. It explores how we date now, and what the cost might be of framing our romantic relationships as disposable.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Seven suspense titles in which paradise is not what it seems

Laura Griffin is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty books and novellas. She is a two-time RITA® Award winner (for Scorched and Whisper of Warning) as well as the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award (for Untraceable). Her book Desperate Girls was named one of the Best Books of 2018 by Publishers Weekly.

Griffin's latest romantic thriller is Midnight Dunes.

At CrimeReads the author tagged seven "suspense novels [that] will take you from the white sands of the Caribbean isles to the windswept cliffs of New Zealand. Adventure awaits, but don’t expect a smooth trip." One title on the list:
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Bestselling author Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel revolves around an end-of-summer party in Malibu. The year is 1983, and everyone who is anyone among Southern California’s sun-kissed elites wants an invitation to the annual blowout at the cliffside home of the famous Riva family, whose members include a famous surfer, photographer, and supermodel. In a story deftly told through flashbacks and multiple viewpoints, Reid builds layer upon layer of suspense until the reader knows that when the fateful evening finally arrives, each key guest is on a collision course and the legendary party is destined to go up in flames.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Malibu Rising is among María Amparo Escandón's eight top books about living in Los Angeles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Six titles by women writing worlds in crisis

Erin Swan was born in Manhattan and lived there for ten years until her family moved upstate, where she started writing stories and poems. She used her early adulthood to travel, write children’s books, and work for a literary agency before going to teach English in India and Thailand. Swan earned her MA from Teacher’s College at Columbia University and began teaching in New York’s public school system in 2008.

[ Q&A with Erin Swan; The Page 69 Test: Walk the Vanished Earth]

While teaching full-time, Swan attended the MFA program at the New School and graduated with a degree in fiction. Her work has been published in various journals, including Portland Review, Atticus Review, The South Carolina Review, and Inkwell Journal, and her stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

Walk the Vanished Earth is Swan's first novel.

At Lit Hub she tagged "six standout books by fellow women writers, books I believe are must-reads for those seeking to explore this current juncture in history, as we challenge our past and question what our future will bring." One title on the list:
Meredith Westgate, The Shimmering State

Meredith Westgate’s debut novel is set in the land of dreams known as Los Angeles. Amid the organic fast-food stands, movie-star hopefuls, and wildfires burning in the Hollywood hills, two young transplants attempt to find their way. Sophie is a talented ballet dancer who pays the rent waitressing at an upscale restaurant. Sensitive and optimistic, she envisions a promising future for herself. Lucien is a more broken character, a photographer still grieving his artist mother even as he cares for his grandmother, who is bedridden with Alzheimer’s.

The speculative element in this novel is a drug: Memoroxin—Mem, for short—a luminescent pill intended to assist dementia patients by feeding their own memories back to them. Mem quickly floods the recreational drug market, in high demand from those seeking to escape their own realities via the memories, and identities, of others. At the beginning of the novel, Sophie and Lucien meet at a rehab center for people whose lives have been upended by Mem. As Westgate investigates their present realities and tangled memories, she charts what has brought them to this moment. How has this land of dreams failed these two young people, she asks, and what more might be possible if they can find their way out of it?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue