Her new novel is The Girl in the Park.
Last month I asked Fredericks what she was reading. Her reply:
Like a lot of readers, I usually have a fiction and a nonfiction book going at the same time. I'm both a history nut and a celebrity junkie; I tend to like books about Big Lives.Visit Mariah Fredericks's website.
I was drawn to Manning Marable's Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention because Malcolm X is an iconic figure in American history. And like other iconic figures—Washington, Lincoln—he can feel remote, almost mythological. I knew his face, I knew his quotes, I didn't really feel I knew him, and I wanted to. Marable's book is a triumph of reporting. He really digs into the facts behind the public personas—both the one Malcolm created for himself and the one his detractors created for him. I was fascinated by the history of Malcolm X's parents, who were Garveyite activists in their own right. The book also shows you the inner workings of the Nation of Islam, revealing how an organization with lofty ambitions can fall prey to cronyism and corruption. The account of the final weeks of Malcolm X's life is particularly gripping. It raises a lot of questions. Professor Marable hoped to provoke a new investigation into the assassination and has provided substantive evidence to support one.
Professor Marable is scrupulous about the facts; he does not make assumptions as to what Malcolm was thinking or feeling that he cannot back up. As suggested by the subtitle, Malcolm Little reinvented himself several times. Perhaps for those reasons, I finished the book with a stronger sense of Malcolm X as a man of history than anything else. But that's a minor quibble with a major book.
I'm nearly at the end of Margaret George's novel, Elizabeth I. As a novelist, George isn't subject to a biographer's rules, but she's also pretty scrupulous about the facts. Everybody walks through these pages—Raleigh, the Cecils, Shakespeare, John Donne. Some of them get into bed with each other. But George doesn't stretch the truth too far—at least for my taste. Her portrait of an aging Elizabeth, prone to all the pains of getting old, is superb. Any time I thought I was having a bad day, I thought, At least I'm not dealing with the Armada. Or Essex. Or Ireland. Or famine. Or Mary Queen of Scots…
My Book, The Movie: The Girl in the Park.