Thursday, March 29, 2007

Paul W. Kahn

Paul W. Kahn is Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities, and Director of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School.

His most recent book is Out of Eden: Adam and Eve and the Problem of Evil, which David Luban called "an extraordinary, deeply original reflection on the nature of evil."

I recently asked him what he has been reading. His reply:
I think of my day as organized around what I am reading. I read for different purposes throughout the course of the day. I write in the mornings, so I read books then that help me with my current project, which is a book on torture and terror. My morning reading now is Lynn Hunt's Inventing Human Rights and Robin Wagner-Pacifici's The Art of Surrender.

In the early afternoon, I read books that are relevant to what I am teaching -- currently courses on violence and human rights. My early afternoon reading now consists of a lot of Hannah Arendt, including The Promise of Politics and The Origins of Totalitarianism, along with Jonathan Schell's classic The Fate of the Earth (full disclosure: I am coteaching a course with Jonathan this term). Jeremy Waldron, by the way, has an excellent response to the recent Arendt revival in the March 15 issue of the New York Review of Books -- also on my regular reading list.

I read/listen to a lot of recorded books in the car, between my home and my office. Driving, I enjoy both fiction and popular history. Right now, I'm into Colm Tóibín's wonderful novel about Henry James, The Master, and Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, about Lincoln's cabinet. Particularly interesting to read together, since they are writing from such different perspectives about the character of 19th century Americans: politicians versus intellectuals.

Late at night, I read about whatever is on my mind, often science. Having just seen Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth, I turned to Jared Diamonds' Collapse, hoping for some help on how to stave off environmental disaster. So far, things are not looking too good for us.
Kahn teaches in the areas of constitutional law and theory, international law, cultural theory and philosophy. Before going to Yale in 1985, he clerked for Justice White in the United States Supreme Court and practiced law in Washington, D.C., during which time he was on the legal team representing Nicaragua before the International Court of Justice. He is the author of Legitimacy and History: Self-Government in American Constitutional Theory; The Reign of Law: Marbury v. Madison and the Construction of America; The Cultural Study of Law: Reconstructing Legal Scholarship; Law and Love: The Trials of King Lear; Putting Liberalism in its Place; and Out of Eden: Adam and Eve and the Problem of Evil. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in Philosophy and J.D. from Yale.

Read the Page 69 Test results for Out of Eden.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Marcus Sakey

Marcus Sakey's debut thriller The Blade Itself has raked in many, much-deserved, rave reviews.

"A hard-charging thriller ... delivers a kick and leaves no loose ends," wrote the New York Times. The CBS Sunday Morning News called it "[t]he first page turner of 2007 ... this is how immortality gets started."

I recently asked the writer what he has been reading. His reply:
You know when you hit a streak and get a bunch of good books in a row? I've been on a roll for the last few months, so the hard part is picking favorites.

I powered through James Sallis's Drive in an afternoon, and found myself torn between awe and envy. The book is remarkable not only for the story, but for the depth of psychological insight and existential bent. If Camus wrote crime fiction, it might read something like Drive.

Earlier this year I finished A Winter's Tale, by Mark Helprin, which was both a challenge and a delight. Helprin is a spectacular wordsmith, and his sentences read like rich candy -- sometimes a little too rich for my tastes. But I loved the sense of wonder, the beauty of the imagery, and especially the humane philosophy that lit the book from within.

On the flip side is a book called A Prayer for Dawn, by Nathan Singer. It's a savage, heartbreaking novel that ruthlessly lampoons our media-crazed, emotionally-unbalanced, pop-another-pill-and-change-the-channel world. Not a comfortable read, but a spectacular one.

Lastly, I just this morning finished Charlie Huston's A Dangerous Man, the conclusion of the Hank Thompson trilogy. I don't generally care for series, but I'm in love with Charlie's storytelling, and each book in the series gave me four hours of unmitigated bliss. Ken Bruen called it "compassionate noir," and that's a perfect description -- dark, violent, sometimes downright mean, but with a soft side that keeps the heart beating.
Read more about these and other books on Sakey's recently-read shelf.

Find out more about The Blade Itself and future projects at Sakey's official website and at the group blogs "The Outfit" and "Killer Year."

Last year I asked him a question about the male-female ratio of the writers represented on his bookshelf and got a very interesting answer.

Read the results of the Page 69 Test for The Blade Itself.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 26, 2007

Cass Sunstein

Cass Sunstein is the Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School as well as a member of the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago.

His many books include: The Second Bill of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More Than Ever, Radicals in Robes: Why Extreme Right-Wing Courts Are Wrong for America, and Infotopia How Many Minds Produce Knowledge.

I recently asked him what he has been reading. His reply:
I'm reading 2 1/2 books -- a mystery to be explained shortly.

Book 1: Scott Page, The Difference. An illuminating book about the wisdom of crowds -- about why and when crowds are wiser than individuals. Full of insights and also fun to read. A bit like James Surowiecki's excellent The Wisdom of Crowds, but less lively and more careful -- an unpop version, in a way. The downside is that it's not the simplest book; it has some math (and I'm math-challenged). Still there's a lot to be learned from it.

Book 2: The Post-Birthday World, by Lionel Shriver. A book about relationships and parallel worlds (not science fiction, though). I'm only 90 pages in, but Shriver is a wonderful writer, with insight and humor, and parallel worlds are great, aren't they? I'm completely hooked.

Book 2 1/2: Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect. Only 1/2, because it's not out yet (I write on March 18, and it won't be available for a week or so); but 1/2, because I'm so excited about it, and I'm reading some of the academic papers that lead up to the book. Zimbardo is famous for claiming (inter alia) that bad or evil conduct is a product of situations, not dispositions; so almost anyone can go really bad in the right (wrong) situation. The book will bear on the wellsprings of extremism and terrorism, among many other things. Very eager to read it!
Read the Page 69 Test:
Cass Sunstein's Infotopia
Scott E. Page's The Difference
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Paul Lewis

Paul Lewis, a Professor of English at Boston College, is the author of Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict and other books and essays.

I asked him what he has been reading. His reply:
In the middle of an intense teaching semester, I'm devoting most of the time I have for reading to books I'm teaching and essays my students are writing. The former includes works of antebellum fiction and nonfiction for a graduate seminar and works on humor theory and research for an undergraduate elective. Beyond this, since the publication of Cracking Up last fall, I've been working on contemporary satire and humor gaffes, publishing op-ed pieces that can be downloaded at my Web site.

Most recently I've been reading and thinking about the new Fox News satire program ("The 1/2 Hour News Hour") and a few other stories including:
—Craig Ferguson's decision not to ridicule Britney Spears on the CBS "Late, Late Show";
—Ann Coulter's use of the word "faggot" to mock John Edwards at the Conservative Political Action Conference;
—Roger Ailes' playful confusion of Barak Obama's name with Osama bin Laden's at the Radio-Television News Directors Association and Foundation Awards ceremony;
—And the case of Joseph Frederick, a Juneau, Alaska high school student who was punished in 2002 for refusing to take down a banner he designed that read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." Though Ferguson has testified that he was only trying "to be meaningless and funny, in order to get on television” during an Olympics parade event, his case has now reached the Supreme Court where the free-speech issues associated with it appear to be no laughing matter.
Visit Paul Lewis's website.

Read the Page 69 Test: Cracking Up.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 23, 2007

Peter Ames Carlin

As well as being the author of Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall & Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, Peter Ames Carlin is the TV critic for The Oregonian newspaper in Portland.

He has also been a senior writer for People magazine in New York, and a free-lance writer publishing work in the New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Men’s Journal and elsewhere.

I was impressed by Ralph Heibutzki's praise for Catch a Wave, so I asked Carlin about what he has been reading. His reply:
I was deeply into Paul Theroux's Hotel Honolulu, and was about 90 percent of the way through it but then left it in a hotel room a week or so ago; so now that's gone, and I have to get it out of the library or something in order to finish it. Which I'll do, because it's such a wonderful, if fractal, portrait of the many weird cultures and subcultures that make up Hawaii.

I just started Rich Cohen's book about Jewish gangsters, Tough Jews. I'm only about 15 pages in so far, but I've gobbled up all of his other books in the last few months, starting with Sweet and Low, all the way through Lake Effect, Rockers and Machers and then The Avengers. I'm sure this one will be every bit as wonderful. He's a lovely writer, smart, insightful, sweet and funny. And has the best eye for modern American Jewish culture since, I dunno, Philip Roth?

I'm also reading the galleys to A Moveable Thirst, a book about the Napa wine region by my friend Rick Kushman (like me a TV critic by day) and Hank Beal. The second half of the book is a guide to actual Napa wineries, but the first half is pure narrative, about the guys' adventures touring the wineries themselves. It's charming and funny, but also smart and a nice tutorial for aspiring wine buffs. As such it reminds me of the other wine book I read this year, Brian Doyle's The Grail, which is essentially a series of essays about a year at an elite winery in Oregon's Willamette Valley. The grail in the title is the perfect pinot noir ... which a lot of people (including Brian's subjects) have come awfully close to creating.

I also just re-read Huckleberry Finn, aloud this time, since I was reading it to my kids. And what a pleasure that was, both for the opportunity to not just read, but also recite Twain's language, and to see how elegantly and subtly he used the very language and text of racism (institutionalized and otherwise) to reveal exactly how ludicrous it is. The set piece on the Civil War is every bit as powerful, and more than a little sad.

I'm going on vacation next week and I have another collection of Theroux stories to take along, plus Marc Acito's novel How I Paid For College, and I'll probably still be neck-deep in Tough Jews, while I'm at it.

Oh, and since I'm a TV critic I feel like I should give some props to the shows that strike me as a kind of video literature. Which sounds more bogus than I mean it to ... my larger being that they turn me on, most often because the writing is so extremely strong:

"The Sopranos": (HBO)

"Slings and Arrows," (CBC/Sundance/but get it on dvd's too)

"The Shield" (FX)

"The Riches" (FX)

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO)

"Lost" (ABC)
Visit Peter Ames Carlin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rachel Kadish

Rachel Kadish is the author of the novels From a Sealed Room and Tolstoy Lied: a Love Story.

I asked her what she has been reading. Her reply:
I'm researching a new novel, and have been reading a lot of non-fiction both directly and indirectly related to the time period I want to write about. Some of what I'm reading is admittedly dry, but along the way I've encountered some remarkable books. Rebecca Goldstein's biography of Spinoza, titled Betraying Spinoza, is just brilliant, and surprisingly moving. I'm not a habitual reader of philosophy, have never felt drawn to that mode of metabolizing life. But Goldstein's biography of this man who braved excommunication in order to speak his mind is riveting. (For those unfamiliar with Rebecca Goldstein's work, she is both a philosopher and a novelist. If you're looking to read a novel of ideas, try one of hers -- her novels are beautifully written; powerful; thought-provoking long after you've finished reading. True novels of ideas. My favorite is Properties of Light.)

I've also been reading Megan Marshall's The Peabody Sisters, which is a terrific read and fascinating history.

And Kim Garcia's newly published book of poems, Madonna Magdalene, is extraordinary. (Full disclosure: she's a friend. But I'd be singing her work's praises even if she weren't.)
Rachel Kadish's short fiction and essays have appeared in Story, Tin House, Zoetrope, Lilith, and Bomb, in the 1998 Pushcart Prize Anthology, and elsewhere. Her work has been anthologized most recently in Lost Tribe: New Jewish Fiction from the Edge (Harper Collins, 2003), The Modern Jewish Girl’s Guide to Guilt (Dutton, 2005), Who We Are: On Being (And Not Being) a Jewish Writer in America (Schocken Books, 2005).

Visit her official website.

Read the Page 69 Test: Tolstoy Lied.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pete Anderson

I regularly visit Pete Lit, a lit blog run by the short story writer Pete Anderson.

He always seems to be on to something of literary merit, so I asked him what he has been reading. His reply:
I increasingly find myself drawn, in both my reading and my own writing, to fictional lives which are completely unlike my own. Not that I don't enjoy reading about middle-aged white males (or awkward teenagers) from the Midwest every now and then, of course. But I most enjoy reading about people in completely different circumstances than me, and still finding, despite our surface differences, basic commonalities between our lives. Three excellent but very different novels I've recently read illustrate this point quite nicely. (In discussing these novels, however, I won't discuss their commonalities with my own life, because this piece is about the books, and not me. Suffice it to say that I saw a bit of myself in each novel.)

Bayo Ojikutu's Free Burning is set in my hometown of Chicago, but his city could scarcely be different than mine. Tommie Simms moves gingerly through a bleak, desolate, all-but-hopeless corner of the South Side, where one seemingly only has a choice between selling out for a corporate job in the distant downtown or dealing drugs on the local street corner. Tommie experiences both, as he loses his downtown insurance job in the fallout of 9/11 and, in a desperate bid to keep supporting his wife and infant daughter, turns to dealing pot, a tough business to which he couldn't be any less suited. Despite confronting an endless string of obstacles, from the greed of crooked cops to the violence of rival dealers, the book's open-ended conclusion gives a slight bit of hope for Tommie's survival. He still could go either way, good or bad, but there's just enough of a chance for good to give the reader some optimism for his future. During its best moments, Free Burning echoes the dizzying and (yes) fiery prose of Ralph Ellison's masterpiece Invisible Man.

Ward Just's Forgetfulness is an elegant and beautifully written narrative about Thomas Railles, an expatriate American painter living in the shadow of the Pyrenees in rural France. When his wife is found dead on a mountain trail under very suspicious circumstances, Railles simultaneously confronts grief (the "forgetfulness" of the title being one elusive method of dealing with loss) and the basic human urge for revenge. Railles finds himself drawn into the realm of two of his boyhood friends, who have had long careers in the CIA and give Railles a rare opportunity to avenge his wife's death. Just shows admirable restraint in having Railles come perilously close to enacting revenge, nearly succumbing to the eye-for-an-eye futility which is the root of much of mankind's ethnic strife, before pulling back from temptation. Railles ultimately abandons France, the memory of his wife being too painful there, and retreats to a remote island in Maine to pick up the shattered pieces of his life.

Ojikutu and Just's books are written as traditional novels, while Laila Lalami's very fine debut Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits is more of a novel-in-stories. The book opens with a group of Moroccans crossing the Strait of Gibraltar in an undersized boat, risking their lives in pursuit of better circumstances in Spain -- despite knowing they'll be, at best, second-class citizens there. This introductory passage illustrates the only significant bond between the four main characters, as the author goes on to tell their stories separately, studying each of their lives prior to the attempted crossing, followed by the post-crossing aftermath for each. Her choice of presenting four distinct short stories makes perfect sense, as the protagonists come from such disparate walks of life that, even within the small world of Morocco, it would have been unlikely for the four people to encounter each other in their daily lives. Intertwining their stories in a more traditional narrative structure would have seemed forced and artificial. But although the four characters have little direct interaction, the book draws its considerable narrative cohesion from their shared quest for a better life. Lalami's understated prose and writerly compassion provide an emotionally compelling look into the lives of these courageous, everyday people.

The common thread of all three novels is hope and guarded optimism, with the protagonists of each staring into the void and yet still being able to turn away. Defying their unfortunate circumstances, from what little the bitter world has given them, they manage to carve out for themselves the best life they can. Which is something all of us should strive for.
Pete Anderson's short stories include "Ectoplasm," "Immortality," and "Guaranteed." Find more stories at Pete Lit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Daniel Hatadi

Sydney crime fiction writer Daniel Hatadi has been a musician, a petrol station attendant, and a software engineer in the poker machine industry. His writing has appeared in Crimespree Magazine, Shots UK, Thrilling Detective and Thuglit. He also maintains the crime fiction social networking site, Crimespace.

I asked him what he has been reading. His reply:
It's surprising to note that most of the books I read nowadays are ones I've heard about on blogs or internet forums. I used to read anything I could lay my hands on, skimming through shelves at the library for whatever appealed. These days, it's mostly crime fiction, leaning towards the darker, more brutal stuff.

I'm a late convert to the man's work, but John Connolly's Every Dead Thing kept me up late most every night. His eerie, almost supernatural prose draws me right in and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the Charlie Parker series.

Jess Walter's Citizen Vince certainly lived up to its Edgar award winning status. His redemptive tale about a man in a witness protection program is blessed with lyrical pyrotechnics that never detract from the story.

The second of the Joe Pitt series, Charlie Huston's No Dominion is a perfect mix of P.I. and vampire novels, with this book delving further into the politics of modern day NY vampires to stunning effect. The setup for the sequel has whet my appetite for even more.

Sandra Ruttan's Suspicious Circumstances is the last book I finished. It's an intrigue-filled debut police procedural that is less about the procedure and more about the complex intertwining of the character's relationships. Not a single stereotype in sight. I'm really curious to see what Sandra comes up with next.
Hatadi has been busy lately creating Crimespace: "A place for crime fiction readers, writers and lovers to schmooze, booze and draw up plans for the heist to end all heists. Find new authors to delve into and discuss the latest in crime fiction. Join up and enter the forums. Share photos, videos and make some friends." Read his introductory bio at the site.

Visit Hatadi's official website and his blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 16, 2007

Michele Morano

Michele Morano is the author of Grammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain.

I asked her what she has been reading. Her reply:
Great question! I'm constantly asking people what they're reading, since the answer gives a glimpse into the person's interior life and the engagment of his/her imagination at a particular point in time. I love the random connections that get made when I'm reading really disparate literature at once, and I always want to know what ingredients are stewing around in another person's mind.

Right now, as usual, I'm reading widely and randomly, with several books going at once. In fiction, I've just finished a brilliant new novel by James Cañón called Tales from the Town of Widows and Chronicles from the Land of Men, which is an imaginative, hilarious, and wise exploration of gender and utopian idealism in Colombia.

I'm also reading two genre-bending books, Dave Eggers' new novel/biography What Is the What and Danilo Kis' fictionalized memoir, Garden, Ashes.

In nonfiction, I've just read two marvelous memoirs, Nuala O'Faolain's Almost There and Katherine Russell Rich's The Red Devil, and I'm re-reading Nicholson Baker's hilarious U and I, along with essays by Joan Didion, Elizabeth Hardwick, and Thoreau.

Finally, the beside table is stacked with poetry collections by Wallace Stevens and Marianne Moore, along with the indispensable Calming Your Anxious Mind, by Jeffrey Brantley and Jon Kabat-Zinn. I'm one of those people who read books about meditation instead of actually doing it.
Michele Morano holds an MFA in Nonfiction Writing and a PhD in English from the University of Iowa. She is assistant professor of English at DePaul University.

Her essays have appeared in journals and anthologies that include Best American Essays 2006, the Georgia Review, the Missouri Review, Under the Sun, and The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers of/on Creative Nonfiction.

Honors and awards for her writing include an American Fellowship from the American Association of University Women, a Rona Jaffe Writers Foundation Award, the John Guyon Prize in Literary Nonfiction from the Crab Orchard Review, and a Prose Fellowship from the Illinois Arts Council.

Visit her official website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 15, 2007

J.B. Thompson

J.B. Thompson writes novels, book and movie reviews, and conducts author interviews.

I asked her what she has been reading. Her reply:
Most of what I'm reading at the moment is for the reviews I write for Reviewing the Evidence. It's reading for pleasure and it isn't. Technically, they're books I "have" to read, but since I get to pick and choose from the publisher's list, I have a tendency to cheat a bit and select the ones I think I might like. I've only been disappointed twice, but at least the experience has broadened my horizons as far as what I'm reading. I also have a couple of books on the pile that I'll be reviewing independently.

I'll admit I pretty much restrict my reading to fiction - I rarely read non-fiction unless it's on a recommendation from someone whose opinion I value greatly. I'm big on mysteries at the moment (of course), I always enjoy a good romance, and because I've been reading a lot of different things lately you can give me just about any sub-genre you like: thrillers, straight-up murder mysteries, historical, romantic suspense, paranormal. I also enjoy fantasies, like Terry Brooks, Piers Anthony and of course, J.K. Rowling. Bottom line for me is it has to be a well told story, written with some finesse and intellect and a nicely twisted but not too predictable plot.

Last year I set myself a New Year's resolution to read at least a book a week for the entire year - I'm trying to do the same thing again for 2007, and have had the pleasure and privilege of reading some terrific books so far, including Bob Fate's Baby Shark and Baby Shark's Beaumont Blues, Jan Burke's Kidnapped, and Glass Tiger by Joe Gores. I've just finished Marc Lecard's Vinnie's Head (wickedly funny, in a disturbing sort of way), and am currently reading Queen of Diamonds by Catherine Hunter.
J.B. Thompson's reviews appear at Associated Content and Reviewing the Evidence, and her interviews are available online at Let's Do Lunch.

Her novels are The Mozart Murders and The Blue Frog, and her novels-in-progress are all standalones - two romantic/suspense, one mystery/suspense and the most current, a medical thriller.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sam Pickering

Sam Pickering, Professor of English at the University of Connecticut and a prolific writer, may be more popularly identified as the model for the teacher in the movie Dead Poet's Society.

His most recent book of essays is Indian Summer: Musings on the Gift of Life.

I asked Pickering what he has been reading. His reply:
I have just finished Patrick Leigh Fermor's A Time of Gifts (1977) and tonight will start Between the Woods and Water (1986), both volumes describing Fermor's walk across Europe to Constantinople starting in winter 1933. Fermor is ninety-two and working on the third and final volume of the three volume series. Now that Eric Newby and Wilfred Thesiger are dead, Fermor is the last of his generation of English travel writers. As my muscles become corpses of themselves confining me to the lowlands of life, the more travel writing I read, partly for diversion and partly in hopes of association's resuscitating memories of quick, bounding days long past.
Pickering's new book, due out in May 2007, is Edinburgh Days, or Doing What I Want to Do.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 12, 2007

Ralph Heibutzki

Ralph Heibutzki has written for a variety of music publications since 1992, including Discoveries, Goldmine, Guitar Player and Vintage Guitar, profiling many of blues, jazz and rock's most significant artists and performers.

Last week here on the blog, Paul Guyot mentioned that he was reading Heibutzki's Unfinished Business: The Life And Times Of Danny Gatton.

That book looked interesting, so I asked Heibutzki what he has been reading. His reply:
The Abominable Man: The Story of a Crime (Maj Sjöwall/Per Per Wahlöö)

This marked my introduction with the '60s/'70s Martin Beck mystery series, and I'm glad to make his acquaintance.... Beck must find the killer of a police inspector who turns out to have an unparalleled reputation for brutality, setting the stage for an armed confrontation with the suspect in downtown Stockholm (Sweden). In a post-9/11 world, this book stands as a potent reminder against abuses of power, of whatever stripe.

Catch a Wave:The Rise, Fall & Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson (Peter Ames Carlin)

Builds on the work of David Leaf, whose own 1978 book (The Beach Boys & The California Myth ) had been seen as the definitive effort...then goes above and beyond to examine the reality behind the Beach Boys' myth, and how Brian Wilson fits into it (in my view, the key to understanding this group). Essential for Beach Boys fans, but worth your time, even if you aren't one.

Citizen Moore: The Life and Times of an American Iconoclast (Roger Rapoport)

Given how long Michael Moore has spent "calling people out" on their sins, it seemed inevitable that someone would give him the same treatment: impressive on the '80s and '90s, less so in covering the last five years of Moore's career (which I'd attribute to lack of source material). Either way, you'll learn some surprising truths about America's favorite iconoclastic filmmaker.

Going Underground: American Punk 1979-1992 (George Hurchalla)

Forget the lies being pumped out by today's dumbed-down mainstream music industry -- you don't have to settle for less: let this book show you why. More than a rundown of obscure bands -- many of whom I remember vividly, but that's beside the point -- Hurchalla pays tribute to the D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) spirit, which is the real legacy of punk.

Lost in the Funhouse: The Life & Mind of Andy Kaufman (Bill Zehme)

If you only know Andy Kaufman as a ghost from "Taxi" reruns, you're in for a big surprise: Zehme peels away layers of mystery, rumor and half-truth to reveal the heart and soul of a genuine prankster.
Visit Ralph Heibutzki's official website where the Danny Gatton pages have their own section.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Ilya Kaminsky

Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union in 1977, and arrived to the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asylum by the American government. Ilya is the author of Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004) which won the Whiting Writer's Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Metcalf Award, the Dorset Prize, the Ruth Lilly Fellowship given annually by Poetry magazine. Dancing In Odessa was also named Best Poetry Book of the Year 2004 by ForeWord Magazine.

I asked him what he's been reading. His reply:
At the moment, in the middle of the semester, I am reading what I am teaching at SDSU's MFA program -

Bible, Gilgamesh, Shakespeare's Tempest, Sappho, Ancient Japanese poetry.

Also: Paul Celan, Italo Calvino, Emily Dickinson, Coleridge's Ancient Mariner.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 9, 2007

Paul Guyot

Paul Guyot has one of the more entertaining online bio pages I've read.

Here's the part about his writing gigs -- this is the Writers Read blog, after all -- but you're missing out if you don't click over and read about his early career path:
Paul was able to secure employment as a writer and has been fortunate enough to work with some incredibly talented people. He began writing for the short-lived David E. Kelley series Snoops where he worked with the “Bobby Orr of writing” Hart Hanson. Next came the WB’s Felicity where Paul wrote for J.J. Abrams. Contrary to rumor Paul is NOT the guy who suggested Keri Russell cut her hair. Paul then wrote for the UPN series LEVEL 9, where he got to match keystrokes with best selling author Michael Connelly.

Next, Paul spent three years as a writer/producer on the CBS drama Judging Amy where he was able to work with the legendary Barbara Hall, as well as Karen Hall—the most nominated female writer in television history—who taught Paul the most important rule of good writing: Don't ever use the word “nay” in any context. Ever.

These days Paul is an Executive Producer on Talk To Me, a pilot he wrote for TNT and Lion's Gate Studios.
I asked him what he's been reading. His reply:
I am a reading fiend. Or is it freak? I read multiple books at once, and have one with me all the time. Currently, in my car I'm listening to Dick Hill read Mike Connelly's The Last Coyote. I've read the book before, but the Bosch series is so good I love going back to certain titles after a few years. The Last Coyote is, for me, the quintessential Bosch book. For those that haven't read it in a long time, check it out again - it's worth it. And Dick Hill IS Harry Bosch.

In my briefcase I have Pegasus Descending by James Lee Burke. He is the Poet Laureate of crime fiction. And the Robicheaux series is one of the finest of all-time. I've heard some say Burke overwrites, but they haven't read him enough. Take this line for instance: "He made it as far as a lavender Cadillac where a man as big as the sky waited for him..." In five words Burke has described this character's physicality so perfectly that, though the image is different in each of our minds, we all see the exact same man.

And finally, by my bed is Unfinished Business: The Life and Times of Danny Gatton by Ralph Heibutzki. It's a biography of Danny Gatton, one of the finest guitar players the world has ever known. Gatton took his own life in 1994, and Unfinished Business is not only the name of his greatest album, but what he left behind.
Visit Paul Guyot's official website and check out his posts at Murderati.

--Marshal Zeringue