Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lori Nelson Spielman

Lori Nelson Spielman's new, debut novel is The Life List.

From her Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:

CL: I read that the idea for your novel came from a life list you’d written at age 14. Can you tell us some of the things on your life list?

LNS: I wish I could say my list was comprised of noble pursuits and daring adventures. Truth is, most of my wishes were humble and conventional, like having babies and going to college and getting married. Like my protagonist, I wanted a horse and a dog (neither of which I have). And some goals were embarrassingly shallow, like Have lots of clothes. Apparently a nice wardrobe is key to a happy life. Who knew?

CL: Most people think of a bucket list when they see your title. Is there a difference between a life list and a bucket list?

LNS: I think of a life list as a blueprint for crafting your life. The goals are broader, farther-reaching and longer-term than those on a bucket list. In the book, Brett’s life list included things like having children and maintaining old friendships. A bucket list, on the other hand, is a list of one-time items that can be checked off in an instant, like a visit to the Grand Canyon or skydiving. But this is just my take on it. People seem to use the phrases interchangeably. And I recently heard about a third type of list, a list of...[read on]
Visit Lori Nelson Spielman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Rebecca Lee

Rebecca Lee's new book is Bobcat and Other Stories.

From her Q & A with Matthew McAlister for Publishers Weekly:

Many of these stories focus on the ways we settle our lives into the expectations of others. What is it about settling that interests you?

I love that question. I love even the word “settle.” I used the word “settlers” as the title for the last story in my collection because the word connotes something so obviously trail-blazing and intrepid, as in the early settlers, but then it also implies something that we all desperately want to avoid—settling, compromising. There’s just a lot of life and philosophy bound up in that word. I’ve been rereading Henrik Ibsen lately—"A Doll’s House"—and I’ve been very taken with his idea that we are all acting out the parts assigned for us, often by the people who surround and love us—we’re all dolls in a doll’s house. That’s such a striking idea for me, and I think fiction in general likes to think about the interrelationships between people, the ways others might provide a sort of net for the identity but can also of course threaten it.

A few of these stories focus on characters in college, which is a transformative time, both intellectually and emotionally, but what else is it about the experience that you find ripe for narrative?

I love college campuses. In a way I grew up on one, as my dad was a chemistry professor, and I’ve spent the last 16 years at a state university in North Carolina. I find it interesting to be in the midst of ideas all the time, and there are arguments and discussions every day. Also, as in any business, there’s just a lot of things I find funny. Committees are funny, and we have a committee for everything. We have a committee called the “Adverse Weather Committee” and every time I hear that I laugh. We also, actually, have a committee to figure out how to have less committees. We....[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 28, 2013

Lisa-ann Gershwin

From a Q & A at The Daily Beast with Lisa-ann Gershwin, author of Stung!:

What's your big idea?

Jellyfish, of all strange things, are turning out to be the unexpected and unwanted consequences of human impacts on our oceans. Jellyfish form large populations (called blooms) as a normal part of their life cycle, but our actions in the name of progress are giving them the perfect conditions to do more of it than probably ever before.

Who would have thought that the lowly jellyfish could cause so many problems, materializing almost completely out of left field as a major contender in changing ecosystems? Almost all of the things we are doing to intentionally or accidentally manipulate our ocean either directly favor jellyfish or put so much stress on other species that jellyfish are often the last man standing.

Fishing takes out the predators and competitors of jellies. Warmer water stimulates them to grow faster and breed more. Coastal construction gives them more places for their polyp stages to colonize. Reduced coastal oxygen gives them the competitive advantage compared to heavy breathers like fish and crustaceans. Pollution hurts fish and other species, but rarely affects jellyfish. And ships’ ballast water gives them a free ride to anywhere they haven’t been before.

While most people are aware of our impacts on the ocean—and indeed, on nature in general—most of us still see conservation as a moral issue or a conscience issue. “If I could afford to be more conscientious, I would be,” we might say. “But frankly, we were put on this earth to have dominion over nature, and it’s not my fault for being born human.” But the truth is...[read on]
Learn more about Stung! at the University of Chicago Press website, the Stinger Advisor webpage, and the Stung! Facebook page.

The Page 99 Test: Stung!.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ted Kosmatka

Ted Kosmatka is the author of the novels The Games and the recently released Prophet of Bones.

From Kosmatka's Q & A with Dave Truesdale for The SF Site:

Paul Carlsson [the protagonist in Prophet of Bones] is using science as a benign tool to reveal Truth. On the other hand, there is the wealthy but brilliant scientist Martial Johansson who figures darkly in the story in several ways I don't want to reveal here -- in too much detail, at least. But through Martial you pose another ages-old question, that being: How do ethics and morality define how far science should go? Martial's experiments deal with attempts to interbreed humans with apes via genetic manipulation. Some of these attempts turn out horrifically, creating sentient monsters. In the creationist worldview of the novel, Martial would pose just as big a threat as Paul, wouldn't he, if he showed that God had created something so close to a human that, with a bit of tinkering, they could interbreed? Do Martial Johansson's "Dr. Moreau-ish" experiments justify his claim that science has a right to go where it will for the ultimate advancement of mankind, and why is Johansson one of those trying to thwart Paul's revelation about the bones of Flores, when one might think, at least superficially and if for no other reason, they would take the heat off of himself and his clandestine scientific laboratory complex? Why did you decide, when plotting the book, to add a character like Johansson; what role did you envision him playing and why?

Martial does pose his own substantial threat to the status quo, and his experiments have made things very complicated and dangerous for the political interests that fund him. But to some extent, he's the devil you know. Part of the reason he still has so much power is because it would be so difficult to get rid of him. What do you do with a mad dog on a leash? You can't let him off the leash, but you sure don't want him close to you. Martial is deeply ensconced in the socio-political intrigues, so there is no easy solution to the problem he presents. Paul, however, is much more easily dealt with.

The whole situation is balanced on a knife edge, and these new fossils could be just the push that will take things past the tipping point. Martial's motivation for going after Paul lies in his own desire to maintain his safe little bubble of autonomy. By silencing Paul, Martial keeps his political benefactors happy, and by keeping them happy he's able to ensure they turn a blind eye on the questionable experiments he's been running. In a lot of ways, Martial is meant to be a counterpoint to Paul. They are opposites, and yet they are searching for an answer to the same question: how do you decide what...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Ted Kosmatka's website.

Writers Read: Ted Kosmatka (March 2012).

The Page 69 Test: The Games.

My Book, the Movie: The Games.

My Book, the Movie: Prophet of Bones.

Writers Read: Ted Kosmatka (April 2013).

The Page 69 Test: Prophet of Bones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Jennifer Zobair

Jennifer Zobair grew up in Iowa and attended Smith College and Georgetown Law School. She has practiced corporate and immigration law and as a convert to Islam, has been a strong advocate for Muslim women's rights. Zobair lives with her husband and three children outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

Her new novel is Painted Hands.

From the author's Q & A at Drey's Library:

drey: Tell us about Painted Hands.

ZA: Painted Hands is a novel about smart, successful, career-oriented Muslim women in Boston, and the difficult choices they face when relationships with unlikely men shatter their friendship, and the current political climate threatens their careers.

I knew I wanted to write about the kind of Muslim women I know personally but who are not often portrayed in the media. The actual idea for the novel came from this image I had of a Muslim feminist and a right-wing politico finding themselves attracted to one another despite their philosophical differences. I was curious if they could find love, and I wanted to explore it.

drey: What do you hope your readers walk away with after reading Painted Hands?

ZA: First and foremost, I hope they enjoy it, that it’s a good story. But I also hope it...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Jennifer Zobair's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Painted Hands.

My Book, The Movie: Painted Hands.

Writers Read: Jennifer Zobair.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Alafair Burke

Alafair Burke's novels include “two power house series” (Sun-Sentinel) that have earned her a reputation for creating strong, believable, and eminently likable female characters, such as NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher and Portland Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid.

Burke's new novel If You Were Here features former prosecutor turned journalist McKenna Jordan.

From the author's Q & A with Cat Acree for BookPage:

What do you think readers will most like about McKenna Jordan? How is she different from your past heroines?

Is it fair to say that a character will be liked for becoming more likable? Most of my past books feature series characters who evolve slowly. They grow, like most of us, in increments and with subtlety. McKenna, in contrast, endures more trauma and drama than most people experience in a lifetime, which allows her to make enormous discoveries about herself in one little book. She's also incredibly tenacious, for better or for worse. I think knowledgable crime fiction readers might also recognize that I've borrowed some familiar tropes of the genre and turned them upside down (or at least I hope so).

How has your law career most influenced your career as a writer?

I've been teaching criminal law for 12 years and, before that, was absolutely blessed to work as a prosecutor for five years. As luck would have it, I happened to work for a prosecutor who believed in taking lawyers out of the courtroom into the community, so I spent about half that time working out of a police precinct. Without that window of time, I wouldn't be the same kind of writer. Criminal investigations don't look...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Alafair Burke's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: If You Were Here.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Torch and the memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.

From Strayed's Q & A with Marjorie Kehe at the Christian Science Monitor:

What was the best gift the trail gave you?

The greatest gift was a sense of my own resilience. By that I mean something deeper than what confidence is. When we feel confident I think that a lot of times we think that that means that we’re going to be able to succeed at something and dominate something and master something. You know, it’s all those kind of winning and on-top things. The kind of confidence that I got on the PCT was more like, "Whatever it is that happens I’ll be OK." To carry everything that I needed on my back ... to say “Here’s what I actually need to survive” and it’s stuff that I can carry on my back. That’s really powerful. And to do it while carrying it over this difficult terrain and in difficult weather. It just gave me this sense of my own strength and resilience.

What was your worst moment?

There were times all along the way when the physical circumstances would meet the negative thought patterns. I would just get so angry at myself. I would say why do I have to be out here? You know, think of all the other things a 26-year-old woman could be doing right now. And I’m just out there in the wilderness and so when it would be really searingly hot and my feet would be absolutely killing me I would be hungry and just thinking about all the things I did not have. I would get into one of those negative thought patterns and that was so hard. I just wanted...[read on]
Author Pam Houston on Wild: "I read it on a long airplane flight, and by the time I was done the people all around me were seriously afraid of me. I was laughing so hard I was shaking the whole row of seats, and when I wasn’t laughing I was crying."

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker's 2011 book is The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.

From his Q & A with Clint Witchalls at the Independent:

Clint Witchalls: You say that, over the centuries, violence has been declining, yet most people would view the last century, with its pogroms, death camps and nuclear bombs, as the most violent century. Why was it not?

Steven Pinker: You can't say that a particular century was the most violent one in history unless you compare it with other centuries.

The supposedly peaceful 19th century had one of the most destructive conflicts in European history (the Napoleonic Wars, with 4 million deaths), the most destructive civil war in history (the Taiping Rebellion in China, with 20 million), the most destructive war in American history (the Civil War, with 650,000), the conquests of Shaka Zulu in southern Africa (1-2 million), the most proportionally destructive interstate war in history (the war of the Triple Alliance in Paraguay, which killed perhaps 60 per cent of the population), slave-raiding wars in Africa (part of a slave trade that killed 37 million people), and imperial and colonial wars in Africa, Asia and the Americas whose death tolls are impossible to estimate. Also, while the Second World War was the most destructive event in human history if you count the absolute number of deaths, if instead you count the proportion of the world's population that was killed, it only comes in at ninth place among history's worst atrocities.

I think few people would disagree that the medieval times were tortuous and bloody, yet most imagine primitive tribes living in Edenic bliss. But you claim that these tribes are far from the noble savages portrayed by Rousseau. How homicidal were they?

Steven Pinker: Tribal groups show a lot of variation, but on average around 15 per cent of people in nonstate societies die from violence. This is the average I got from signs of violent trauma in skeletons from 21 prehistoric archaeological sites, and from eight vital statistics from eight hunter-gatherer tribes.

Hunter-horticulturalists and other tribal people have...[read on]
See Steven Pinker's list of five books on the decline of violence.

The Better Angels of Our Nature is one of Fareed Zakaria's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ru Freeman

Ru Freeman's new novel is On Sal Mal Lane.

From her Q & A with Tania James at Fiction Writers Review:

Tania James: I suspect your family was a literary one. Was writing encouraged by your parents? What books were you drawn to in your youth?

Ru Freeman: I grew up with the idea that words—read, written, uttered aloud—were important. They were the meat, muscles, bones of persuasion. Everything revolved around how well we could handle words. My mother taught English literature and Greek and Roman classics (history and literature in translation), and my father—a civil servant—also wrote poetry. My older brothers and I, therefore, took to language and writing the way the children of mountain homesteaders take to running about in tall grass without fear of ticks and rattlesnakes.

As a child I read whatever I could find. We weren’t wealthy enough (in financial terms, anyway) to buy new books easily, so most of what I read was borrowed or gifted to us through, oddly enough, an American initiative (the Asia Foundation), or bought for a song from a Soviet initiative (The People’s Publishing House). There’s more on my childhood and books here in the Fall/Winter 2010 issue of Pebble Lake Review.

Did you dabble in music as well, like Suren, the eldest child of the Herath family?

Yes, I played the piano—as did my brothers. They also played the violin and my oldest brother—much like Suren—was a gifted musician who could play any instrument he picked up. For me it was mostly the piano, a little guitar (that my oldest brother taught me), and....[read on]
Visit Ru Freeman's website and blog.

Writers Read: Ru Freeman (August 2009).

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 21, 2013

Nan Marino

Nan Marino is the author of Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle & Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me, which received a SCBWI Golden Kite Honor and was featured on the Bank Street Best Books and the New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing.

Her latest book is Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace.

From Marino's Q & A with Brittney Breakey at Author Turf:

How did you choose the genre you write in?

I’m not sure I write in any one genre. My first book was historical fiction. [Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace] is contemporary with a fantasy element. No matter what I write, my audience is always middle graders. I never intentionally set out to write children’s books, but every main character I think of happens to be between the ages of ten and fourteen. When I was in library school, I came across a table filled with children’s books. I picked up the book, Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan and that hooked me forever on middle grade literature.

* * *

Is any material in your books based on real life experiences or purely imagination?

My first book Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me took place in the town where I grew up. There were things in that book that I took straight from my childhood–a neighbor who sings, the family who had extravagant parties, the feeling of closeness in a neighborhood. My...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Nan Marino's website and blog.

See--Coffee with a Canine: Nan Marino & Tai Chi Marino.

My Book, The Movie: Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle & Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A. X. Ahmad

A.X. Ahmad was raised in India, educated at Vassar College and M.I.T., and has worked internationally as an architect. His short stories have been published in literary magazines, and he’s been listed in Best American Essays. The Caretaker is his first novel, to be followed by Bollywood Taxi next year. He lives in Washington, D.C.

From the author's conversation with Aarti Virani for the Wall Street Journal’s India Real Time:

The Wall Street Journal: How has your background as an architect colored your worldview as a writer?

Mr. Ahmad: Even as I worked as an architect in Boston, I was escaping back into India, into the past. I was writing as an antidote to my life. I produced these ramshackle novels – my first two books were never published – as a way of recovering the past. But I realized I couldn’t do architecture and write at the same time. They were just drawing too much from the same part of my brain. I treated writing as I’d treat the design process. In my fiction, I’m drawn to situations that have a very strong sense of place.

WSJ: Tell us about the genesis of ‘The Caretaker’ trilogy.

Mr. Ahmad: ‘The Caretaker’ evolved from a trip to Martha’s Vineyard many years ago. My wife’s family has a home in Oak Bluffs, a resort town in the area. We have a family friend who happens to be a caretaker, and over a beer he told me that these luxury homes, with swimming pools and indoor theaters, are sometimes used for as little as two weeks a year.

I realized that the seasonal labor on the island is composed primarily of foreigners. So you have this quintessentially New England town with white picket fences and everyone’s there to experience the authenticity, but who’s doing the work? It’s the Eastern Europeans, Brazilians and Jamaicans.

The central character, Ranjit Singh, came to me shortly after 9/11. I went to a local supermarket in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and encountered a Sikh cashier. He had a big American flag sticker on the front of his turban. And I thought, ‘That is...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at A.X. Ahmad's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: The Caretaker.

Writers Read: A.X. Ahmad.

My Book, The Movie: The Caretaker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Caroline Leavitt

Caroline Leavitt is the New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You, which sold to six countries, went into five printings, and was a San Francisco Chronicle Lit Pick, a Costco "Pennie's Pick" and a NAIBA bestseller. Pictures of You is also a USA Today ebook bestseller and is on the Best Books of 2011 List from the San Francisco Chronicle, Providence Journal, Kirkus Reviews and Bookmarks Magazine. It's also one of Kirkus Reviews Top 5 books of 2011 about the Family and love.

Leavitt's new book -- her 10th novel -- is Is This Tomorrow.

From her Q & A with Nicole Bonia at Linus's Blanket:

Write the question you would most like to answer in an interview, and then answer it.

How do you silence self-doubt? The answer: I don’t, though I really try to, often using magic thinking, tarot cards, whatever I think might work. I’ve come to realize that part of being a writer is being terrified of humiliating myself, and I’m trying to live with that.

People live in stories, we are surrounded by them. What was it about this the story that made it the one you had to tell at this time? What impact did telling this story have on your life? Did you find that it had changed you?

Is This Tomorrow is set in the 1950s when being alike is really prized and women are second class citizens. I wanted to write about how an outsider finds community–or even if that’s possible. And it had a deeper meaning for me. I grew up an outcast in my own neighborhood, bullied and shunned, because I had three supposed strikes against me: I was smart in a community where only 10 percent of the high school went on to college. I was Jewish in a Christian community (I heard a lot of “Why did you kill Christ?”), and I was very sickly with asthma, which made me a target. But I yearned to belong, even to this group that wouldn’t have me. So I created Ava Lark, divorced, Jewish and the mother of a 12-year-old Lewis. When Lewis’ best friend Jimmy vanishes one day, the neighborhood targets Ava. Lewis grows up with survivor’s guilt. Ava struggles to fit in, refusing to leave her home. And Rose, Jimmy’s sister, is certain her brother is still alive. Eventually, the case seems solved, but is it, really? The book explores how much of the truth we can tell, especially if it hurts others. Telling the story really changed me because...[read on]
View the trailer for Is This Tomorrow, and learn more about the book and author at Caroline Leavitt's website and blog.

Writers Read: Caroline Leavitt.

The Page 69 Test: Is This Tomorrow.

My Book, The Movie: Is This Tomorrow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin's best-selling fantasy series "A Song of Ice and Fire" is the basis for the HBO series Game of Thrones.

From his Q & A with Charlie Jane Anders for io9:

One of the things that strikes me in the recent books is, there'll be a major turning point for a character, and then you realize it's been building for hundreds of pages. Do you always plan these huge events and then find ways to build up to them, or do you sometimes write a character's journey and then realize that it's been leading to a huge turning point?

All the major things have been planned since the beginning, since the early 90s, the major deaths and the general direction of things. Obviously, the details and the minor things have been things that I've discovered along the way, part of the fun of writing the books is making these discoveries along the journey. But the general structure of the books has been in my head all along.

It's always a tightrope, writing — you do have to set things up. You don't want them to come out of nowhere, out of left field. You do want to foreshadow them. But you don't want the developments to seem predictable. If everybody knows what's coming two books before it comes, then it loses all its impact. That's the tough part. There's no easy answer to that. You just do what you can.

Your books, especially recently, are full of women trying to exert power in a male dominated world who have to compromise themselves along the way. Are you trying to make a feminist statement?

You could certainly interpret it that way. I don't presume to say I'm making a statement of this type or that type. But it is certainly a patriarchal society, I am trying to explore some of the ramifications of that. I try to write women as people, just as I try to write any other characters. Strong and weak, and brave and cowardly, and noble and selfish. It has been very gratifying to me how many women read my work and how much they like at least some of...[read on]
See George R.R. Martin's list of 5 novels that should have won the Hugo Award.

Learn about Martin's biggest worry about the TV show as it gets deeper into the story.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 17, 2013

Matt Bell

Matt Bell’s new, debut novel is In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods.

From his Q & A with Andrew Ervin on the Tin House blog:

Andrew Ervin: What impresses me the most about In the House is the immersive experience you’ve created. The first-person voice carries a mythic or timeless quality, and it’s sustained beautifully for hundreds of pages. Tell me how you found that and how you pulled it off so well.

Matt Bell: There’s a glib answer possible here, where I just say, “Slowly,” and then leave it at that—but of course I’ll go on. I suppose it really did take a long time to flesh it all out, but I had a kind of sketch of the voice early on—I can’t usually get very far into a story without having the story’s way of speaking at least partially in hand. Before I was finished, a lot of other influences had been mixed in: there’s a little bit of King James Version, some Greek myth, a little bit of Old Norwegian, a smattering of unusual words lifted from nineteenth-century dictionaries, some Cormac McCarthy and Brian Evenson and Hiromi Itō and Christine Schutt, all these writers who work so well at the sentence level, who write so wonderfully about the body. I’m sure there are plenty of other influences on the voice, ways of speaking I’d never be able to untangle from the novel’s, some of them there for the beginning, some folded in later.

One thing that I’m sure helped me: I was constantly reading aloud from the book, from the first day of drafting to the last day of revision, years later. I’ve read the book out loud cover to cover multiple times, at the end of every major draft, and there was never a day when I worked on the book in silence.

I think that there was also some want on my part to prove wrong a truism I’d heard too often in grad school and in other places: When I was in school, it seemed to be a given that an intense focus on language and acoustics couldn’t be carried over an entire novel, that this kind of voice was the province of the story, the poem, that it was too difficult for the writer, too exhausting for the reader. From the first time I heard someone say that, I...[read on]
Visit Matt Bell's website.

In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods is "a wild and powerful fable that on its surface is about a couple trying to begin a family in an odd, desolate setting," says Amy Brill. "The writing is so spare and magnificent and the events therein so profoundly strange that reading it is just exhilarating."

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Benjamin Anastas

Broke, his promising literary career evaporated, Benjamin Anastas is hounded by debt collectors as he tries to repair a life ripped apart by the spectacular implosion of his marriage, which ended when his pregnant wife left him for another man. Such is the story Benjamin Anastas recounts in his 2012 memoir, Too Good to Be True.

From the author's Q & A with Kathy Sweeney for the Observer:

Your first novel was about failure, and your new book is a memoir about having and losing it all. Can failure enrich people?

I think it can, in that it burns away all of your illusions. There is a sense in which failure is necessary because so much of the what the world says to us is that you must succeed, you must acquire, you must have your house and your kids and your cars, and your professional achievement. But I think that what failure says is that there are other things to care about.

There has been an increase in failure memoirs written by men in recent years (Toby Young, David Shields, David Goodwillie, Greg Baxter). Why is this?

This is probably changing, but one of your responsibilities as a man – and it's instilled in all of us from an early age – is that you go out into the world to achieve and provide. Granted I had different models with my own family since my father was such a counterculture type, but it was still instilled in me that I was to go out into the world and win. So when you can't and you fail, it becomes this great burden. Something of your manhood has been reduced. I did feel it quite acutely when my son was very young and I was out of work, and I would pick him up from daycare and we'd go to the park and the only people there were women, there were no dads. I felt I was suspect in the eyes of the women. In three years no stranger...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Shohreh Aghdashloo

Shohreh Aghdashloo won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress for HBO's House of Saddam and was the first Iranian actress ever to be nominated for an Academy Award, for her role in House of Sand and Fog. She has starred in the Fox series 24 and has been featured in a number of television shows and films. Born and raised in Tehran, she now lives in Los Angeles. Her new memoir is The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines.

From her Q & A with Katie Baker for The Daily Beast:

You lived through the days of the shah, then you saw the revolution, you lived in exile, you had this incredible life in Hollywood. As you were writing your memoir, was there one particular part of your life that was the hardest to go back to or remember? Or was there one that was the most pleasurable to remember for you?

Oh, yes. Leaving my German shepherd, my dog, behind—Pasha. That is still the hardest one of all. My daughter just finished her studying at Chapman University. She’s now a graduate of Chapman and she wants to be a film director. She was ... living away from us for three years. I was bringing her home yesterday, and all of a sudden ... she turned around looked at the door of the home that she was living in for three years, and she started crying. And she said, “Oh, Mom, I’ve gotten so emotional and I don’t know why.” I said, “Tara, I was your age when I left not only my home, but also my country and my beloved dog, and just as you did, I turned around and looked at it when I was leaving the border ... Imagine, you have to leave your home, your parents, your family, your friends, and basically start a journey that you have no idea what is going to happen in this journey the day after.” But you just hit the road and start a new life.

You left Iran just after Khomeini came to power. How long has it been since you’ve been back to your country?

It was actually the day before he came.

Because they closed the airport?

They closed the airport, and then they opened the airport for him, and I thought, as soon as he arrives, they may close the airport again. That’s why I had to leave in a hurry. But I ...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 14, 2013

Patricia Bracewell

Patricia Bracewell grew up in California where she taught literature and composition before embarking upon a writing career.

Her recently released debut novel is Shadow on the Crown.

From the author's Q & A with Nancy Bilyeau at A Bloody Good Read:

NB: For you, what is the line between fiction and fact? Are there fictional characters in Shadow on the Crown?

PB: There are fictional characters in the novel, but all of them are in supporting roles. I created them where necessary to flesh out the story. As for the line between fiction and fact, I set out to write a story, not history. Every step of the way I asked myself if what I was imagining was plausible, given the available facts. Often I had to depend upon conjecture. Historians do this, as well, but they make certain that any conjectures they make are specifically identified as such. The novelist doesn’t have that restriction. The Author’s Note, though, is the place where the writer can discuss any deviations from known facts, and I think they are almost as much fun to read – and write – as the stories themselves.

NB: Your book has a passionate romance in it but it also depicts rape within marriage. How hard was that to grapple with as an author?

PB: Any scene that is intensely emotional – whether it is passionate, violent, or sad – is difficult to write. I struggle with all of them. Technically they are difficult because you want to portray physical events that are occurring, and at the same time you want your reader to experience not just the physical but the emotional turmoil that your viewpoint character is experiencing. To do that, the writer has to...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Patricia Bracewell's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Shadow on the Crown.

Writers Read: Patricia Bracewell.

My Book, The Movie: Shadow on the Crown.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Susan Bordo

Susan Bordo, Otis A. Singletary Professor in the Humanities at University of Kentucky, is the author of Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body, a book that is still widely read and assigned in classes today. During speaking tours for that book, she encountered many young men who asked, "What about us?" The result was The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and in Private. Her latest book is The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen.

From Bordo's Q & A with Natalie Grueninger, creator of the website On the Tudor Trail:

Anne Boleyn has been represented in film and literature in a variety of ways, including: the romantic heroine, marriage breaker, religious reformer, adulteress, witch, enchantress and victim. Describe your Anne Boleyn?

I don’t really have “one” Anne, but I do have bits and pieces that made me fall in love with her: Her speech at her trial, in which she describes her one “crime” as not having shown Henry enough humility—I think that’s an extraordinary, “feminist” insight for a woman of her time. Her dark, ironic sense of humour, which never left her, even at the end. The fact that she never tried to aspire to the beauty-standards of her day, but wore her own style with supreme confidence, probably altering ideas about beauty in the process. Her passion about making the bible available in English to all subjects. The fact that she expressed her jealousy rather than suppressing it as a “good” wife should. The way Elizabeth is so clearly her daughter, with that distinctive blend of brains, femininity, assertiveness, and flirtatiousness that they both apparently had.

I also see “my” Anne in every young woman who comes to my office, struggling with the contradictory demands of being female in complex times: Can I be myself—fully myself, sexual and smart, serious and playful, sometimes demanding, sometimes jealous, sometimes too loud, sometimes wanting only to be left alone—and still be loved? Can I be loved—fully loved, body, soul, and mind—and still remain myself? If forced to choose, what will I sacrifice and what will I hold fast to? Anne’s struggle speaks powerfully to these young women, and I think that’s a big reason why...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at the official The Creation of Anne Boleyn website.

My Book, The Movie: The Creation of Anne Boleyn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Emily Anthes

Emily Anthes is a science journalist and author. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, Scientific American, Psychology Today, BBC Future, SEED, Discover, Popular Science, Slate, The Boston Globe, and elsewhere. Her new book, Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts, was published in March 2013 by Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux. She is also the author of the Instant Egghead Guide: The Mind.

From a transcript of the author's Q & A with Ray Suarez for PBS:

RAY SUAREZ: Glow-in-the-dark cats, goats that produce human pharmaceuticals in their milk, mutant mice engineered to have cancer or Alzheimer's disease, they may sound like science fiction, but these animals all exist today. Scientists and researchers can create animals genetically tailored to desired specifications nature never intended.

Is it desirable just because it's possible? Are there ethical boundaries that must be watched?

Emily Anthes is author of "Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts."

And she joins me now.

And your book is chock full of moral mine fields, the whys, the whens, the when-it's-OKs to do these things. Had you realized how far along this science was when you started on this journey?

EMILY ANTHES, Author, "Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts": I had some idea about what was going on in university and scientific laboratories.

I knew scientists were tinkering with genes and brains, but it surprised me how far along this technology was in terms of trickling out to the public, that you can now buy a glow-in-the-dark genetically engineered pet or remote-control a cockroach with a kit you can buy online. That was really surprised to me.

RAY SUAREZ: Now, we humans have been shaping animals to our needs for thousands and thousands of years. What's different about now? Has science leapt ahead much faster than it took, for instance, to domesticate a cow?


So, if you look at something like the dog, we have altered that immensely just through breeding. But our molecular technologies allow us to make changes more quickly, to make more targeted changes. You know, we can just change...[read on or view the interview online]
Learn more about the book and author at Emily Anthes's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Emily Anthes & Milo.

The Page 99 Test: Frankenstein's Cat.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Karen Brown

Karen Brown is the author of Little Sinners and Other Stories, which was named a Best Book of 2012 by Publishers Weekly, and Pins and Needles: Stories, which was the recipient of AWP’s Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. Her new novel is The Longings of Wayward Girls.

From Brown's Q & A  with writer Caroline Leavitt:

So much of The Longings of Wayward Girls (great title, by the way) is about memory, the things we try to forget, and how memory is often transformed by time. Can you talk a bit about that, please?

Growing up I had a best friend who moved away when I was five. Years later, in middle school, she reappeared to tell what seemed to be outrageous stories about me. Had I really been so painfully shy in kindergarten that she had to speak to the teacher on my behalf?

“Mrs. Susskey,” she’d say. “Karen wants to know if she can get another piece of paper.”

I’d always believed I had an excellent memory—and yet either I had somehow forgotten part of the past, or my friend—who had no reason to lie, was making it all up. I became intrigued with the versions of the past we tell ourselves—how our memories are unintentionally faulty, and we cannot always remember correctly. Misremembering is a fascinating aspect of characterization.

Just recently another childhood friend (for whom the novel is dedicated) sent me a photo of a tiny porcelain box decorated with dragonflies that I’d given to her for her birthday when we were young. I never remembered giving her the box, but I recognized it immediately—almost as if I’d stepped through some sort of curtain, or portal, to hold the box in my hands, lift its lid again. I wanted to recreate that feeling in this novel—to have the past be suddenly present and immediate, both new, and yet strikingly familiar.

The novel is set against a backdrop of quaint suburbia, which made me think of how David Lynch used suburbia in Blue Velvet. Why do you think a place like the suburbs is actually the perfect location for something cruel or evil simmering under the placid surface?

It’s an appealing place—so tidy and organized. There are...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 10, 2013

Michael Pocalyko

Michael Pocalyko's new novel is The Navigator.

From his Q & A with J. N. Duncan at The Big Thrill:

You touch on psychological, global-business, and political issues in your story. Which of these do you find most compelling as a writer?

No contest. The psychological issues are the most compelling. Without giving away any spoilers, there is an unusual literary convention that I’ve employed in THE NAVIGATOR. I’ve attempted to show how psychological wounds, combat trauma, visit on the next generation. The prologue to THE NAVIGATOR has gotten a lot of play in advance of the book’s publication, mostly because of how dark and disturbing it is. We witness up-close in his point of view the psychological decomposition and breakdown of a very good man. Something horrible happens to the 20-year-old navigator in that death camp, only at this point in the novel we don’t know exactly what. We only know that it’s horrible. Then, wham! We’re in Washington and New York in the present day, caught up in blazing fast action, wondering just what that opening story could possibly have to do with the developing story. It’s only later, with a number of slow-reveals and thriller “stingers” that we find out how that incident and its effects are the genesis of everything. The psychological backstory, through the emergence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), literally compels all of the other action. It’s a way of eliciting a major theme in the novel: The past is never really the past, even if it’s not your own past. And once again, I believe that only the thriller form can best showcase that theme.

THE NAVIGATOR has a vast array of characters and subplots. Did you have any particular favorites, ones you couldn’t wait to get back to when writing the story?

I loved writing Horvath, the bad guy, which you know the instant you meet him in chapter three. Often, even in really great thrillers, the bad guys can come across as a bit one-dimensional. I wanted to avoid that pitfall, and I had some real fun creating Horvath. Every time he does something, you learn a little bit more about him. Those pieces coalesce and eventually fold into the narrative late in the book. Whenever I was writing him, the composition came easily and quickly. He’s a...[read on]
Visit Michael Pocalyko's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Joanna Hershon

Joanna Hershon is the author of Swimming, The Outside of August, and The German Bride. Her writing has appeared in One Story, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Post Road, the literary anthology Brooklyn Was Mine, and was shortlisted for the 2007 O. Henry Prize Stories.

Her new novel is A Dual Inheritance.

From Hershon's Q & A with Jen Ortiz at GQ:

GQ: Why choose male friendship as a subject?

Joanna Hershon: I've been trying to suss out for myself where the seed of this book came from. I've always been really fascinated by male friendships, and my father's friendship with a really close friend from college. (But the book is not even remotely about my father and his friend.) I do identify that male friendships in particular have always been really interesting to me--maybe because I am not male. I am also really interested in periods of time or places where unlikely friendships are possible.

Even though Harvard in the 1960s is not particularly exotic, it did always fascinate me to hear about. My father went to Harvard in the late '50s; I read his Red Book, which is this book where the alumni write stories about their life--I remember just poring over this book and the diversity of men at a time that had so many more strictures than we do now. That just was fascinating for me. It's almost like, a catalog of characters or something. Somehow those men must have haunted me a bit, like ghosts.

GQ: Are male friendships really that different from women's?

Joanna Hershon: It seems, to me, that there is a depth of feeling that isn't as expressed as with women, generally. And I think that restraint is interesting to me as someone who is not particularly...[read on]
Learn more about the author and her work at Joanna Hershon's website.

The Page 69 Test: The German Bride.

My Book, The Movie: The German Bride.

Writers Read: Joanna Hershon.

The Page 69 Test: A Dual Inheritance.

My Book, The Movie: A Dual Inheritance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Claire Messud

Claire Messud's new novel is The Woman Upstairs.

From the author's Q & A with Annasue McCleave Wilson for Publishers Weekly:

Your characters struggle to figure out who they are in the face of their families and events over which they have no control. What are we to make of Nora Eldridge, the betrayed middle-aged woman of your new novel? Because she is angry, really angry.

As a writer, I subscribe to Chekhov’s world view: “It’s not my job to tell you that horse thieves are bad people. It’s my job to tell you what this horse thief is like.” The more accurately one can illuminate a particular human experience, the better the work of art. I’m not an autobiographical, or biographical, writer, except in some abstract sense. If I had to summarize, most broadly, my concerns as a writer, I’d say the question “how then must we live?” is at the heart of it, for me. It can only be addressed in the individual, not in the general; each of us on this planet must come to terms with this question for him or herself.

As a reader, I’ve long felt passionately about fictions that articulate anger, frustration, disappointment—from reading Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground, in high school, when I thought, “my God, fiction can do this? Fiction can say these unsayable things?” to reading Beckett or Camus or Philip Roth’s Sabbath’s Theater to Thomas Bernhard—these are all articulating unseemly, unacceptable experiences and emotions, rage prominent among them. Because rage at life and rage for life are very closely linked. To be angry, you have to give a shit.

Anyway, these books I love, they’re all books by men—every last one of them. Because if it’s unseemly and possibly dangerous for a man to be angry, it’s totally...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 7, 2013

A. X. Ahmad

A.X. Ahmad was raised in India, educated at Vassar College and M.I.T., and has worked internationally as an architect. His short stories have been published in literary magazines, and he’s been listed in Best American Essays. The Caretaker is his first novel, to be followed by Bollywood Taxi next year. He lives in Washington, D.C.

From the author's conversation with Shivani Vora for the New York Times:

Q. What was your inspiration for The Caretaker?

A. Three separate pieces came together to inspire the book:

My wife’s family has a house in Martha’s Vineyard, and I used to spend summers there. Most of the summer workers are immigrants, and I became intrigued by this community and wondered what would happen if one of these immigrants stayed on the Island during the winter, when all the tourists were gone.

Also, a family friend on the Island is a caretaker and looks after many super-luxury homes. These mansions lie empty for most of the year, and he told me about how he would wander through them, opening closets and learning about the owners from what they had left behind. I immediately thought it was a great setting for a novel.

And finally, I happened across a self-published book of black-and-white photographs of the Siachen Glacier. I was stunned to find that India and Pakistan were fighting each other in this remote, freezing cold world of ice and snow. A lot of the soldiers were Sikhs. I began to imagine a Sikh army captain from this world, who has to leave the army in disgrace and emigrate to the U.S.A., and he ends up...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at A.X. Ahmad's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: The Caretaker.

Writers Read: A.X. Ahmad.

My Book, The Movie: The Caretaker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Stephanie Hepburn

From a Q & A with Stephanie Hepburn about her new book, Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight:

Question: What made you interested in writing about the topic of human trafficking?

Stephanie Hepburn: I moved to New Orleans in February 2006, not long after Hurricane Katrina. Just like any place in any country that experiences a natural disaster, the infrastructure was disrupted, the population was in flux and law enforcement personnel were overextended. In order to rebuild the city there was a sudden demand for low-wage labor, which created an ideal scenario for labor exploitation and human trafficking. Further compounding the scenario is that the United States government temporarily suspended numerous protections for workers that affected wages, safety and health. Also, the government temporarily suspended immigration-enforcement requirements. These temporary suspensions compounded the situation and allowed illicit contractors to move in, and bring in and exploit workers unnoticed.

This is actually where the latter part of the book title (Hidden in Plain Sight) came from: the workers were exploited out in the open, but they were hidden in plain sight because no one was paying attention to the exploitation. I first began to research the human trafficking cases in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region and after seeing the common patterns I added the entire U.S. and 23 other nations.

Q: What do you want to accomplish with this book?

SH: I wrote the book to attract a broad audience and be accessible to anyone – whether an academic, expert in the field or a layperson who happens to be curious about the topic. I wanted to bring about improved awareness and understanding of all forms of human trafficking. When most people think of human trafficking they think of...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

David Abrams

David Abrams, who spent 20 years as an Army journalist, is the author of the acclaimed debut novel Fobbit.

From his Q & A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You served in the U.S. military for 20 years as an Army journalist and the book focuses in part on the military-press relationship. How has that dynamic changed (or remained the same) over the years, especially looking at the period from the Vietnam era to today? In your opinion, did the military learn lessons from the Vietnam War and apply them to later conflicts?

A: The Vietnam War left a lot of bruises on both the military and the press. Mistakes were made, feelings were hurt, and the “Five O’Clock Follies” dented the military’s credibility for decades. It took nearly a generation of soldiers to pass through the ranks—those senior officers who couldn’t let go of their distrust of the media—but gradually the military started seeing reporters not as adversaries but as potential allies.

By the time I came in to the Army in 1988, the glaciers had started to thaw and the Grand Canyons of division had started to close. There were still plenty of colonels and generals who had nothing by fear and disdain for the media at that time, but eventually they retired and attitudes started to shift.

When I went to Iraq, the Army was still picking through lessons learned in Operation Desert Storm and earnestly applying them to how they’d work with the media in this new, wired Information Age. I think, to a degree, the military has been pretty successful in at least trying to meet the press halfway with embedded media and more timely news releases. They’re not all the way there yet—as the satire in Fobbit points out—but they’ve come a long way since Vietnam.

Q: Fobbit does indeed take a satirical look at the Iraq War, and has drawn comparisons to Catch-22, which in fact one of your characters is reading. In your acknowledgments, you thank writers Norman Mailer, Joseph Heller (author of Catch-22), Richard Hooker, Tim O'Brien, and Karl Marlantes "for paving the road and lighting the streetlamps." Can you describe how each of them served as an inspiration or influence for you?

A: I think...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at David Abrams' website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Fobbit.

Writers Read: David Abrams.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Roxana Robinson

Roxana Robinson's new novel is Sparta.

From her Q & A with Jane Ciabattari at The Daily Beast:

Why did you choose to write your new novel from the perspective of Conrad, a 26-year-old Marine returning from tours of duty in Ramadi and Haditha?

Six or seven years ago I read an article about our troops in Iraq – how they were being sent out in unarmored vehicles, and being blown up by IEDs, and receiving traumatic brain injuries as a result. These were often undiagnosed, partly because the military was reluctant to remove troops from combat, and partly because treatment was expensive. I just couldn’t get those three things out of my mind – the unarmored vehicles, the injuries, and the reluctance to treat. It was clear that we weren’t really protecting our troops. This made me wonder about the consequences of this war. So that article was the beginning. It was a new world for me—I’m a Quaker. I hardly even knew anyone who was in the military.

Conrad is a Marine officer who joined up in 2001, while he was a classics major in college. “The classical writers love war, that’s their main subject,” he tells his parents. “Being a soldier was the whole deal, the central experience. Sparta, The Peloponnesian War, the Iliad. Thucydides, Homer, Tacitus.” What was the meaning of ancient Sparta to you as you worked on this book?

My first encounter with the connection between the Marines and the ancient world was in a memoir called....[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Roxana Robinson’s website.

The Page 69 Test: Cost.

My Book, The Movie: Cost.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 3, 2013

Matthew Specktor

Matthew Specktor is the author of the novels American Dream Machine and That Summertime Sound, as well as a nonfiction book about the motion picture The Sting. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Paris Review, The Believer, Tin House, Black Clock, and, among other publications. He is a senior editor and founding member of the Los Angeles Review of Books.

From a Q & A at between Matthew Specktor and Bret Easton Ellis:

Bret Easton Ellis: You grew up in a relative showbiz environment and I didn’t. Let’s start there.

Matthew Specktor: Right. But when I read “Less Than Zero,” I thought, Jesus, I’ve never seen my world described this way. Or any way, for that matter. People think of “Hollywood” as a metonym, as if it and “Los Angeles” are the same thing. They aren’t.

Well, you grew up in Santa Monica, and I grew up in the Valley, in Sherman Oaks. And my dad wasn’t a part of Hollywood — he was in real estate. It wasn’t until I was 10 or so that he started to do well, and it was then that I became cognizant of my upbringing as privileged. You know, going to a lot of restaurants during the week for dinner, and I’m attending Buckley, this very exclusive private school and I’m wearing a uniform, etc.

Yep. My dad was a talent agent, but he didn’t start to do particularly well until I was in high school. By which point, the only thing I wanted to do was get out of Los Angeles. I desperately needed to bail.

That desire was paramount for me, as well.

We didn’t know each other then, and you’re a few years older than I am, but we did the exact same thing. I applied to Bennington and I applied to Hampshire. I chose the latter almost strictly for reasons that had to do with sex. (Laughing.) A bigger student body, and so more...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Matthew Specktor's website.

Read about the role place plays in Specktor's writing.

The Page 69 Test: American Dream Machine.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Wenguang Huang

Wenguang Huang is a writer, journalist, and translator whose articles and translations have been published in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, The Paris Review, and the Christian Science Monitor. He is the author of the memoir The Little Red Guard and the translator for Liao Yiwu’s For a Song and One Hundred Songs, The Corpse Walker, and God Is Red.

His latest book, with Pin Ho, is A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel: Murder, Money, and an Epic Power Struggle in China.

From Wenguang Huang's Q & A with Matt Schiavenza for The Atlantic:

Are Chinese people getting more interested in politics?

After Tiananmen Square people got so busy making money that they became cynical and jaded about politics. But the Bo Xilai scandal has really energized people. When I visited China last year, almost everyone I met had heard something about the case on Weibo, and some were even using a proxy server to access foreign media to read about it. More Chinese people are now interested in the political process than before, something that makes the government nervous.

What ultimately did you want your readers to take away from your book?

What we tried to do was to take a step back from the scandal and look at it with a very detached way. We were interested in giving Western readers a broader context, a sense of how the inner Party apparatus works, to give them a very objective assessment of what's happening in China now. Through this, when they read about political events happening in China, they...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bill Cheng

Bill Cheng's new novel is Southern Cross the Dog.

From Cheng's Q & A with Scott Cheshire at The Brooklyn Rail:

Scott Cheshire (Rail): Okay, first, tell me how you came to write this book, and I’m referring specifically to a Chinese-American, born and raised in Bayside, Queens, writing the experience of a young black male in the early 20th century South?

Bill Cheng: Blues, especially country blues, is something that’s been important to me for a long time. I listened to it almost obsessively when I was in my late teens and early 20s. So when it came time to write the book, I wanted to pay tribute to that. It has a kind of language, and landscape, and mythology all its own.

When we were in grad school together, we had this ideology drilled into us that we shouldn’t write “what we know” but what we wanted to know. It’s liberating to believe as writers that, the stories we tell aren’t limited to where and when we live, or how we’ve grown up but by the things that drive us. For me, it was blues and the kind of world it paints; that feeling of being set upon by the universe and suddenly realizing how fragile the structures in our lives are.

I already know what it’s like to be Chinese and from Bayside. I personally don’t find that experience is particularly interesting or worth sharing, right now. It hasn’t really set a fire in me the way...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue