Wednesday, April 30, 2008

John Gimlette

John Gimlette is the author of At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig and Theatre of Fish -- both nominated by the New York Times as being among the "100 Notable Books of the Year" -- and the newly released Panther Soup, which follows a wartime journey through France, Germany and Austria.

He is a regular contributor to the travel sections of the Daily Telegraph, the Times and the Guardian. He also contributes to other travel titles, including the Conde Nast Traveller and Wanderlust.

I recently asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Most of my reading relates to research for the book I am working on. My next book is about Guyana, and so I am reading Seductive Poison, an account of the events that led to the Jonestown Massacre. It's not particularly well-written and it sometimes feels like watching a train crash in slow motion. Nonetheless it's quite an important book, demonstrating how easily a large and vulnerable section of society were brain-washed by the crank, Jim Jones.

My researches also took me to Evelyn Waugh's account of his travels in Guiana (as it was then), called Ninety-Two Days, published in 1934. It's an interesting book in that it opens up the debate as to what travel writing really is. Some say it's about the writer and his interaction with environment. Others like me prefer to see less of the writer and more of the country. In Ninety-Two Days, it's the former, and the old colony is filtered through Waugh's peculiar misanthropy. It's obvious that he didn't do any research, and the reader is as much in the dark as he was as to why things were the way they were. Nowadays, I don't think a publisher would touch this book but for the author's celebrity status (which Waugh was supremely conscious of). On second thought, for that reason alone, they'd probably be falling over themselves to get their paws on it.

The best book I've read recently is John Stedman's Expedition to Surinam which was first published in 1796. Stedman was half-Scottish, half-Dutch and he was sent as part of a Dutch expeditionary force to put down a massive slave revolt in Surinam between 1772 and 1777. It's a story of extraordinary violence and hardship (nearly all the soldiers perished in the South American jungle) but it's also a curiously modern tale, full of humanity and sympathy for the slaves. Stedman's own time there is complicated by the fact that he falls in love with a slave girl and marries her. Sadly, it does not turn out well ... A fabulous book, written with great compassion and humour.
Visit John Gimlette's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sean Williams

Sean Williams is a New York Times-bestselling author of speculative fiction. He is the author of over sixty published short stories and twenty-two novels, including the Books of the Cataclysm and The Resurrected Man, and is a multiple recipient of both the Ditmar and Aurealis Awards. As well as his original work, he has written several novels in the Star Wars universe.

Recently, I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
While working on a novel, I always try to read something that will influence my writing just the right way. That doesn't necessarily mean a book in the same genre; more often it's the style and tone I'm looking for, like finding the right up-beat tempo to keep the weights pumping at the gym (not that I spend much time doing that). Because I've just started something intimate and fantastical for younger readers, the book I'm reading at the moment is Sylvia Engdahl's Enchantress from the Stars, a 1970 novel I somehow managed to miss during my childhood that an editor friend handed as inspiration. I can see why Firebird re-released it. Its devices are all completely visible, but it remains engaging. It's also like the best sort of pop music or puzzle: simple but timeless for reasons that aren't always immediately obvious. Those metaphors are contradictory, I know; the right one is eluding me today.

Before Sylvia Engdahl, I read Norman F. Cantor's In the Wake of the Plague, which I picked up at the Frick Museum while on honeymoon last year. (It takes me a while to get to books, sometimes.) That wasn't research material, but it could easily have been. On that front I have a couple of study guides on Shakespeare's Coriolanus piled up nearby, plus Michael Chorost's memoir about life after a cochlear implant. The tower is growing, and will need attention soon. I'm most keen, however, to launch into John Harwood's second Gothic novel, The Séance or Rob Shearman's mixed assortment of Tiny Deaths. Whichever speaks to me in the loudest voice.
Visit Sean Williams' website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 25, 2008

Chris Forhan

Chris Forhan is the author of The Actual Moon, The Actual Stars and Forgive Us Our Happiness. He received a 2007 NEA fellowship in poetry, and teaches at Butler University in Indianapolis, Ind.

His poems have been published in magazines such as Poetry, Paris Review, New England Review, Plougshares, Parnassus, Antioch Review, Georgia Review, and Slate, and anthologies including The Best American Poetry 2008, The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, The Pushcart Prize XXVII, Hammer and Blaze: A Gathering of Contemporary American Poets, and The New American Poets: A Bread Loaf Anthology.

Earlier this month, I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I’ve just finished James Longenbach’s new, short critical work The Art of the Poetic Line and found it to be an impressively pithy and straightforward consideration of the centrality of the line to our experience of poetry. I think the book serves as a useful supplement to three older, broader overviews of prosody that have at one point or another been helpful for me: John Thompson’s The Founding of English Metre, Paul Fussell’s Poetic Meter and Poetic Form, and Charles O. Hartman’s Free Verse: An Essay on Prosody.

As for poetry itself, I dip continually into the work of various poets for sustenance and inspiration, so I have stacks and stacks of books scattered about. Lately I am wary of letting my own poems get too tidy and safe — too unreasonably reasonable — so I have been paying particular attention to poems of lyric strangeness and intensity, poems with a heavy dose of irrationality and meaningful mystery. I’ve been enjoying the piercingly heartsick surrealism of Robert Desnos in The Voice of Robert Desnos: Selected Poems (translated by William Kulik). Books by more recent poets include No Starling by Nance Van Winckel (whose work has gotten noticeably and gorgeously strange in the last few years); Laura Kasischke’s Lilies Without; Dean Young’s embryoyo; Tomaž Šalamun’s The Book for My Brother; and Alessandra Lynch’s it was a terrible cloud at twilight. Lynch’s poems are deeply musical and emotionally rich—they persuade, finally, by their distinctive voice: by its often incantatory, even obsessive, quality and by its shifts and veerings that are both surprising and right.
Some of Forhan's poems are available online, including: "Prayer before Sleep," "A Child’s Guide to Etiquette," "Vanishing Act," "Oh Blessed Season," and "Last Words."

Visit Chris Forhan's faculty webpage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Alex Kingsbury

Alex Kingsbury is an associate editor at U.S. News & World Report.

I recently asked him what he was reading. He replied with an account of "a few [books] that have been on [the] nightstand in the past few months:"
In preparation for heading back to Iraq, I had another read of Chris Hedges' War is a Force the Gives Us Meaning. It is an incredibly moving book that encompasses war and war reporting better than any other tome ever penned. It and the companion volume, What Every Person Should Know About War should be required reading for aspiring journalists and politicians alike. I'm also about 90 percent through Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan by A.C. Grayling.

I also recently finished Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Silent Past by Giles Tremlett. He does a wonderful job capturing modern Spain in all its contradictions and what's been buried not so deeply in the Iberian peninsula.

Last week I finished up Reappraisals by Tony Judt, a good collection of essays most of which had already been published in the New York Review of Books.

When I need some fiction, it's anything by Milan Kundera. Life is Elsewhere and Laughable Loves are two favorites.
Alex Kingsbury met Staff Sgt. Darrell Griffin 18 days before the soldier was killed by a sniper. View the web feature, "A Soldier's Life and Death," which includes Kingsbury's cover story about Griffin, photos the soldier took, his personal emails, videos, and journal entries.

Kingsbury's articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post Express, National Geographic Traveler, the Dallas Morning News, and been distributed by the New York Times.

He has also written for the Watchdog Project, an initiative of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

Visit Alex Kingsbury's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 21, 2008

Robert Wilder

Robert Wilder is the author of Daddy Needs a Drink: An Irreverent Look at Parenting from a Dad Who Truly Loves His Kids--Even When They're Driving Him Nuts and Tales from the Teachers' Lounge: What I Learned in School the Second Time Around--One Man's Irreverent Look at Being a Teacher.

Recently, I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
My reading time is quite precious, usually borrowed from my forgiving wife Lala (when we should be talking about something important in bed) or stolen by leaving the high school campus where I teach and crossing Camino de la Cruz Blanca to hide in the St. John’s College coffee shop or library. A few weeks ago, my family flew to Florida for spring break, which increased my reading hours considerably. While my kids were smashing castles in the sand and Lala was eavesdropping on the saucy couples around us, I got lost in Patricia Hampl’s The Florist’s Daughter. Hampl is our purest memoirist. In the book, she effortlessly (and associatively) weaves the story of her parents, herself, St Paul, Fitzgerald, her father’s sadly wonderful floral business and the deep heart of America. Her work is like a rich tapestry: one can barely find any threads of structure or shape yet all of her stories and ideas blend beautifully.

I also just finished a terrific book of short stories: The Mother Garden by Robin Romm. I had a horrible bout of insomnia before we left for Florida and after tossing and turning, I went out to the loveseat in our living room and devoured these delightful stories. What I like about Romm’s work is that she allows so much mystery (some would say magic) into otherwise realistic premises. A daughter finds her father roaming in the desert; a woman washes up on the shore during a disconnected family reunion; all her stories invite us to wonder and wander along the twisted roads of her wonderful prose.

Finally, since I have an eleven-year-old daughter Poppy who is a voracious reader and a six-year-old son London who is learning his sight words (and struggling with “wh” ones), we brought along to Florida Kaline Klattermaster's Tree House by Haven Kimmel, a book we all could love. At first my son was upset that there was no mention of Pokemon or superheroes but he got over it quickly because the book was so smart and so funny. Kimmel, an accomplished novelist and memoirist, does not pander to children in the least. Her characters are quirky, odd, and flawed and she lets them keep those refreshing qualities. As a parent who has to sit through painful kidlit, it’s great to have a book that doesn’t make me want to drink bleach. Poppy loved it so much that she read it twice in a row. When was the last time you did that?
Robert Wilder's column, “Daddy Needs a Drink,” is published monthly in the Santa Fe Reporter.

Visit Wilder's website, his Facebook presence, and his MySpace page.

The Page 99 Test: Daddy Needs A Drink.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 18, 2008

Katharine Weber

Katharine Weber is the author, most recently, of Triangle, which was longlisted for the 2008 International Dublin Impac Literary Award.

Earlier this month, I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I am reading strangely at the moment.

I am deep into Sigmund Freud's 1919 essay on The Uncanny, Das Unheimliche -- which translates literally, as "unhomely." He invented this concept as a way of contemplating and understanding those moments when something feels familiar yet foreign or alien at the same time, so the consequent feeling is of something uncomfortably strange. Novelists do well to think about the uncanny.

I am also reading and rereading Helen Bannerman's 1899 classic for children, The Story of Little Black Sambo. It figures hugely in Temper, my novel in progress, the story of a chocolate candy business.
Weber's Triangle was selected by Maureen Corrigan on NPR/FRESH AIR as a favorite book of 2006 and was named by the Chicago Tribune as a Best Book of 2006.

Visit Katharine Weber's website and read an excerpt from Triangle.

The Page 99 Test: Triangle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Brenda Cooper

Brenda Cooper is a technology professional, a science fiction writer, and a futurist.

Last year, she applied the Page 99 Test to The Silver Ship and the Sea, the first book in The Silver Ship trilogy. Her new book, Reading the Wind, is due out in July.

Earlier this month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I'm always reading a lot. The most recent book I recommended on my site is The Final Warning, by James Patterson. I enjoyed it for a few reasons - as a pleasure read, it's fun. Mr. Patterson is good enough at the hook that he can get me through his books without my writerly-mind derailing into studying technique on the first read, so they entertain (yes, I do go back and try to learn from him. I don't want to write books that are quite that fast paced, but I would love to be that good at hooks). The Final Warning is also an engaging look at a tough problem I'm otherwise blogging about. And besides, his main character, Max, flies. My first novel has people who can fly in it, and so does the one I'm working on now (my fifth). And no, I don't often have flying dreams.

I'm also reading about and studying Eva Peron. I love the musical, and that made me want to know the story, and the story is interesting enough I keep finding new references. Someday, bits of her story will work their way into one of mine, although I don't know how yet. This moment, Barb and J. C. Hendee's "Noble Dead" is a series in progress, and Paul Melko's "Ten Sigmas" is burning a hole on my desk.
Brenda Cooper is the co-author of the novel, Building Harlequin's Moon, which she wrote with Larry Niven. Her solo and collaborative short fiction has appeared in multiple magazines, including Analog, Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Oceans of the Mind, and The Salal Review.

Visit Brenda Cooper's website and her LiveJournal; read an excerpt from The Silver Ship and the Sea, and learn more about Reading the Wind.

The Page 99 Test: The Silver Ship and the Sea.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 13, 2008

James Gustave Speth

James Gustave Speth is Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. Dean of the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and Sara Shallenberger Brown Professor in the Practice of Environmental Policy at Yale University.

Recently, I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Right now, I'm reading Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine to see how it relates to my new book, The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability.

I like good historical fiction, so I'm reading C.J. Sansom's Dissolution, wherein Thomas Cromwell takes on the monasteries for Henry VIII. I'm also reading Wolfgang Benz's, A Concise History of the Third Reich. One can never know enough about that disaster.
Read more about Speth's book, The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability.

From 1993 to 1999, Speth served as administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and chair of the UN Development Group. Prior to his service at the UN, he was founder and president of the World Resources Institute; professor of law at Georgetown University; chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality; and senior attorney and co-founder, Natural Resources Defense Council. He was awarded Japan’s Blue Planet Prize for “a lifetime of creative and visionary leadership in the search for science-based solutions to global environmental problems.”

Read more about Speth's teaching, research, and publications at his Yale faculty webpage.

Visit The Bridge at the End of the World website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 11, 2008

Susan Nagel

Susan Nagel's books include Marie-Therese, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter; Mistress of the Elgin Marbles: A Biography of Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin; and The Influences of the Novels of Jean Giraudoux on the Hispanic Vanguard Novels of the 1920s-1930s.

Late last month I asked her what she reading. Her reply:
I am currently reading The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln by Sean Wilentz. This book is the second in a series that began with The Rise of American Democracy: The Curse of the New Order. Is Princeton professor Wilentz America’s Edward Gibbon? I’d rather not be around for the ‘Fall,’ but I am looking forward to The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008 to be published in May, 2008.

In The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, Wilentz proves a true political scientist, building his argument with Newtonian physics and Hegelian dialectics. Partisan politics, despite the Founding Fathers’ fears of them, have been the oxygenating force that hurled a primordial experiment (democracy or republic?) from one BIG BANG toward empire as an evolving system of compromise guided its trajectory. Wilentz offers brilliantly illuminated microscopic focus.
Learn more about Susan Nagel and her work at her blog and at her Marie Antoinette's Daughter blog.

The Page 99 Test: Mistress of the Elgin Marbles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Jim DeRogatis

Jim DeRogatis is the pop music critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, the co-host of Public Radio’s “Sound Opinions,” the world’s only rock ’n’ roll talk show, and the author of several books about music, including Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America’s Greatest Rock Critic and Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma’s Fabulous Flaming Lips, both published by Broadway Books.

Recently, I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
By necessity, as part of the music beat, I read almost all of the major pop-music books published in a given year, often because I have to review them; these can range from the ridiculous (one recent assignment was to tackle Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga by Ian Christe) to the, um, if not exactly sublime (the four greatest rock books ever: Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs; Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story by Nick Tosches; The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones by Stanley Booth, and The Night (Alone: a novel) by Richard Meltzer), than at least the slightly less ridiculous (Clapton: The Autobiography or Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan).

When it comes to reading for sheer pleasure, however, along with sucking up every issue of The New Yorker, I devour almost anything I can get my hands on in the totally unrelated realm of military campaigns and the politics and social movements behind them, ranging from almost-current affairs (some recent favorites here included Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks, Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet by Jim Mann, and Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner) to, well, just about every other era imaginable (with the Napoleonic period holding a special fascination; still on my nightstand and yet to be filed away on the groaning bookshelves are In the Legions of Napoleon: The Memoirs of a Polish Officer in Spain and Russia by Heinrich Von Brandt and, for the second time, The Campaigns of Napoleon, the classic overall history by David G. Chandler).

At the moment, I’m two-thirds of the way through The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944, published last year by former Washington Post reporter Rick Atkinson, and which I dived into immediately after consuming An Army at Dawn: The War in Africa, 1942-1943, which he published four years earlier. These are the first two volumes of what the author calls “The Liberation Trilogy”—the final installment, obviously, will start in Normandy on D-Day—and while the United States’ role in Europe during World War II might seem to be the hoariest, most romanticized, and mostly overly dramatized topic of the century just passed — remember all those endless Baby Boomer-crafted tributes to their folks in “the Greatest Generation”? — Atkinson breathes new life into the subject via exhaustive research (relying much more on seldom-consulted official documents and personal diaries than the hazy recollections of sometimes self-aggrandizing veterans) and exquisitely sharp and descriptive writing. His books are, quite simply, a joy to read, and he refuses to ever don the rose-colored glasses, whether he’s writing about a long hushed-up disaster involving the U.S. Army accidentally poisoning its own troops and Italian citizens with mustard gas, or the ferocity with which the Germans fought for every yard of North Africa and Italy, even though it had long since become obvious to many from the foxholes to the headquarters of high command that the war was a lost cause.

I know what you’re thinking: I never want to read another book about World War II again. I felt the same way, until I heard Atkinson speak at the Pritzker Military Library (like I said, I’m a geek for this stuff), and hearing him convinced me that, yes, there was still more to say, and no, the ultimate books about that conflict have not been written. But after about 1,000 pages of his work, I have to say he’s coming pretty darn close.
Visit the website of Jim DeRogatis to read his Chicago Sun-Times blog and recent articles (including album reviews of R.E.M.'s Accelerate and Gnarls Barkley's Odd Couple), and to learn more about his books and other projects.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Robert Bateman

Robert L. Bateman, an infantryman, historian, and prolific writer, is the author of two books -- Digital War, A View from the Front Lines (Presidio: 1999) and No Gun Ri, A Military History of the Korean War Incident (Stackpole, 2002) -- and has contributed to or co-authored seven others.

Near the end of last month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I dread this question because it inevitably requires a bit of a confession on my part. I am, for whatever reason, what one might call a "multi-reader." In other words, I am usually working my way through anywhere from five to ten books at the same time.

Yea, I know. It's strange. Or at least other people think that it is strange. I myself thought nothing of it until one Saturday when I was a teenager my father came into the living room chuckling to see me reading. I asked what was so funny about the fact that I was reading and dad said that he had just finished walking around the house and counting all the scattered books that I had resting opened or bookmarked. He found them in the bathroom, several in my room, two in the basement, one in the kitchen, and one on the back porch. So, you see, asking me "what are you reading?" is a bit problematic.

I will, therefore, confine myself to the books in my current, immediate, vicinity. That is to say within reach here at my desk.

First would be the two books in my briefcase, which I read during my commute here in Washington, DC. These are The Navy Times Book of Submarines, a Political, Social and Military History, by Brayton Harris, and my friend Eric Alterman's book Why We're Liberals, A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America.

Sitting on my desk is one book that I just now completed, and about which I wrote a review for the US Army War College journal Parameters, Muhammad, Islam's First Great General by military historian Richard Gabriel. The second book resting open here is Vietnam Awakening, My Journey from Combat to the Citizens' Commission of Inquiry on U.S. War Crimes in Vietnam, by Michael Uhl. I'll be doing a review of that one for Vietnam magazine. Finally, one book through which I am selectively fishing, The Interagency and Counterinsurgency Warfare: Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction Roles, published by the Strategic Studies institute of the Army War College and edited by Joseph Cerami and Jay Boggs.

Obviously I don't want to load your page with synopsis accounts of all of these, but suffice it to say that I find all of them interesting, if for different reasons. As for "pleasure reading" at home, well, I usually limit that to Terry Pratchett's diskworld books (we all have to escape somehow), and others of that ilk.

Bateman was a Military Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and has taught Military History at the U.S. Military Academy. Read many of his recent articles at the Committee of Concerned Journalists website.

Visit Robert L. Bateman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 4, 2008

Paul Berman

Paul Berman is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.

He is author of Power and the Idealists and Terror and Liberalism, and the editor, most recently, of Carl Sandburg: Selected Poems.

Last week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I have just finished reading an excellent study of Nazi influences on Islamist radicalism called Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11 by Matthias Küntzel, translated from the German by Colin Meade, with a preface by Jeffrey Herf (Telos Press Publishing). This is quite an eye-opening book.

Right now I am reading Full Circle by Edith Kurzweil, with a preface by Walter Laqueur (Transaction Publishers). The book is a memoir of the classic New York intellectuals by the final editor of Partisan Review -- a marvelously flavorful book, recounting a dramatic immigrant intellectual life, full of pointed reflections and anecdotes.

And I am reading a novel by Pascal Bruckner, L'Amour du Prochain (Grasset) -- a salacious novel, mischievous and wise, by a brilliant philosopher.
From Derek Chollet's Washington Post review of Berman's Power and the Idealists: Or, the Passion of Joschka Fischer and Its Aftermath:
Paul Berman's fine new book is propelled by two images. One is of a young, leftist radical in a black motorcycle helmet beating up a police officer during a 1970s street protest. The other is of a dignified European statesman in a three-piece suit at a stuffy policy conference, refusing to accept the Bush administration's rationale for war with Iraq and publicly confronting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with a blunt riposte: "Excuse me, I am not convinced."

Of course, the thug in the helmet and the diplomat in the suit are the same person, former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer. [read on]

Learn more about Paul Berman at his NYU profile webpage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Elizabeth Crane

Elizabeth Crane is the author of two collections of short stories from Little, Brown, When The Messenger is Hot and All This Heavenly Glory. Her latest collection of stories, You Must Be This Happy to Enter, was published earlier this year.

Last week I asked Crane what she reading. Her reply:
What I've been reading is Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. I realize pretty much everyone has already read this book, but I'm perpetually behind. I almost came to the end of it last night but I had to go to bed fifty pages before the end. The thing about this book is that there was so much hype about it, even more by the time I finally cracked it, that for me it was almost destined to fail in some way. I'm always suspicious when there's that much attention on a book, you know, that isn't mine. You think - there's no way that all these people could be right about this. But honestly, this book had me at hello. Or I should say it had me at We. I've written one or two short stories in first person plural, but to successfully pull off an entire novel this way is no small feat, in my opinion, and yet in the case of this book it seems like there would have been no other choice. The main thing about this book that really strikes me, besides the fact that it's funny and smart and thoroughly readable, besides how much I wanted to stay with all these characters for as long as they'd have me, is that it makes me feel like I could write a novel. That's a trick, though, an illusion the author has unwittingly created, of course, because sometimes that's how great books are, at least for me. There's something so seemingly effortless, so natural about the way that they're written that you think, oh, I could do that! Except not so much.
Elizabeth Crane writing has been featured in publications including Washington Square, New York Stories, Sycamore Review, Book, Florida Review, Eclipse, Bridge, Sonora Review, the Chicago Reader, Sleepwalk, the Believer, McSweeney's Future Dictionary of America, The Banana King, and All Hands On: The 2ndhand Reader.

Visit Crane's website and her blog.

--Marshal Zeringue