This Month's Articles
Hiding in Plain Sight
By Nuruddin Farah
Reviewed by Jane M McCabe
If you are a novelist with a newly-published book, you had better pray that I don’t review it, because I’m the Attila the Hun of book reviewers! When I was young I read novels voraciously, hoping that one day my novels would grace the tables of bookstores and the shelves of libraries. That was before I attended a seminary in the 1970’s, where I was required to read a great of history, particularly biblical history. In so doing, I developed a taste for reading history and lost my enthusiasm for reading novels…
I no longer wanted to read fiction, which I often saw as arch and pretentious; I want to know the truth of what has happened in times past and find that more instructive. I became so critical of novels that if in reading one I happened upon an inconsistency or a false note, I would pounce upon it with a vengeance. Sometimes I would put down a book when only a quarter of my way through it because my sense of verisimilitude had in some way been offended and then nothing could induce me to resume reading... I had in effect become a “novel policeman.”
But, when Neworld Editor Fred Beauford gave me Hiding in Plain Sight, I was ....Read More
By René Steinke
Reviewed by Jan Alexander
Oil and Ennui
I think of Texas as a guilty pleasure, at least when it comes to watching John Ford- style Westerns on late night television, and that often translates to novels set in Texas, too.
Not that René Steinke’s new novel, Friendswood, bears any overt resemblance to places where cowboys saunter into the saloon with six-shooters blazing, but a reader gets the sense from writers such as Steinke and her most famous predecessor, Larry McMurtry (I’m talking strictly literary Texas), that even today, out there in those vast dry plains where tumbleweed rolls along and towns seem to have lost their reason for being, the law is capricious and honor is a matter of split-second, life-or-death decisions.
Lives look small against the sweeping landscape, so as a writer you have to endow your characters with big psyches and big attributes like honor and moral courage to make them stand out against....Read More
Best Food Writing of 2014
By Holly Hughes, editor
Reviewed by Jane Smiley
Around nine a.m. every morning, I decide what I will cook for dinner. This puts me immediately in a good mood, even if what I choose, as I did yesterday, is a rib-eye steak salt-seared in an iron pan with onion rings and spinach salad (the steak looked fatty when I bought it, but by the time it was on the table, the fat had sizzled down to perfect salty brown bits).
This afternoon, I will be extruding some homemade pasta and serving it with a tonno sauce. I can’t wait. After dinner, I will make some peppermint ice cream and stir Christmassy chocolate peppermint chunks into it.
My mother would have been floored that I turned out like this. When I was a child, I would eat four things--a plain hamburger from Steak-n-Shake, chicken rice soup, Wonder Bread peanut butter sandwiches (ONLY strawberry jam), and popcorn.
But picky eaters learn to cook, and then they learn to eat, and then they read The Best Food Writing of 2014 and wonder if a cockroach might be worth trying.
I sometimes marvel at the variety and expansiveness of today’s literary world--even as new forms are being explored, plenty of old....Read More
Fanny Seward: A Life
by Trudy Krisher
"At last Fanny Seward, the precocious, perceptive daughter of Secretary of State William Seward, gets her own book, the book she deserves: warm and literate and engaging."—Walter Stahr, author of Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man
“William H. Seward's daughter Fanny came of age during the turbulent years of the Civil War. She knew her father's colleagues in Lincoln's cabinet, including the president, and wrote penetrating comments in her diary about events and persons. Trudy Krisher's gripping narrative of Fanny's experiences builds toward its tragic climax in Lincoln's assassination and the vicious attack on Fanny's father right before her eyes, followed by the poignant anticlimax of Fanny's own death from the nineteenth-century curse of tuberculosis.” James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom
"This well researched account of young Fanny Seward, resident of upstate New York and daughter of Lincoln’s right-hand man in Washington, DC, brings a human perspective to domestic life in the Civil War period. The poignant story of Fanny from childhood through early adulthood provides rich context to the well-preserved Seward House in Auburn, New York."—Deirdre Stam, Long Island University
Trudy Krisher is a retired professor in the Department of Liberal Arts, Communication, and Social Sciences at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio.
A Light Train Ride
A short story by Fred Beauford
Yesterday, the Expo line to downtown Los Angeles was going thru a hood, if you will, that recently became a mere shadow of its once formidable self.
A young, light brown skinned man, with glasses and long black hair, entered my car pushing a double seat stroller with two adorable twins.
He sat them down in the seats directly in front of me and I immediately made eye contact with one of them, the girl, and smiled at her.
She smiled back at me as only a child so young could charmingly do.
. The young man did not take the third seat that was available to him, but just stood over us.
At the next stop I noticed that he became seriously agitated as someone entered the other section of the car. He started wolfing at him.
Which shocked me. Could he be starting a fight with these two little kids sitting here? This can’t be?
The young man then charged into the other section and I heard a scuffle and people yelling. I l stood up and looked and saw people trying to....Read More
By Colm Tóibín
Reviewed by Sally Cobau
What’s in a Name?
Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Sister Carrie—three classics with single-name titles, suggesting a psychological portrait or at least a character sketch of a woman—all written by men. Now there’s another book to add to the list—Nora Webster by the Irish writer Colm Tóibín.
I’m sure there are countless other books with single names and I can think of a few, but I suggest these three because they have entered our collective conscious, in a sense, and have been adapted numerous times. In other words, we look to them as reflections of ourselves.
In Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser explores the rise of the innocent, yet determined Carrie Meeber, a farm girl who arrives in Chicago with little more than the clothes on her back. Eventually she becomes a successful actress.
As Carrie rises, her lover, Hurstwood, who first appears as a successful tavern owner loses everything when he lets his passion for Carrie surpass all his accomplishments.
This is a classic tale of American capitalism, written in a naturalistic way. I am especially....Read More
Portfolio: The magic eye of Stephen Fisch
A Column by Kara Fox
Stephen Fisch, our highly respected contributing photography reviewer, co-editor and gifted photographer, is at it again. His creative eye has transported us from the dramatic spires of the Watts Towers to the early morning serenity of Malibu. Creating footsteps in the fresh morning sand, he quietly walks along the shores with his cell phone in hand, ready to capture a magnificent moment.
With his vision, talent and foresight ....Read More
A Backpack, a Bear, Eight Crates of Vodka
By Lev Golinkin
Reviewed by Janet Garber
Nothing But What They Could Carry
Life’s regrets: as I read this book of escape from Soviet Russia in 1990, the height of Soviet Jewish emigration, I thought back to a Russian Jewish friend I had during that epoch. He had just turned 40 and was still stumbling around in New York, finding his way, professionally and personally.
He seemed to be confused about many things, including just how Jewish he wanted to be. Certain holidays, he took himself to Crown Heights in Brooklyn to dance with the Hasids, which he described as quite joyful.
Other times he was content to be a secular Jew. Little by little he divulged a few sad stories from his childhood: the teasing he endured as a refugee for wearing sandals to school in Connecticut, the scarring (emotional) caused by his father’s insistence that he be circumcised as the ripe age of 12, the devastating loss of his mother to cancer.
I listened, I hope with sympathy, but as a third generation Jew, I was too far removed from the experience to relate to his troubles.
Lev Golinkin’s A Backpack, a Bear, Eight Crates of Vodka is simple straightforward prose, leavened with humor. It traces each step of his own....Read More
JAMES BALDWIN: The Last Interview and Other Conversations
By James Baldwin (Author) and Quincy Troupe (Contributor)
Reviewed by M. J. Moore
James Baldwin’s fatal illness (stomach cancer) was advancing rapidly in 1987. The author of classic fiction (Go Tell It on the Mountain, Giovanni’s Room, Another Country, and other novels) and legendary nonfiction (Notes of a Native Son, Nobody Knows My Name, The Fire Next Time, and more) knew that his days were numbered.
Before it was too late, celebrated author Quincy Troupe (a noteworthy poet, journalist, and biographer who gained fame amid the Black Arts Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s) made his way to the South of France for the express purpose of recording a long, free form interview with the ailing Baldwin.
For the first time, that unexpurgated dialogue is now available, along with a valuable trio of other interviews collectively reminding us of James Baldwin’s mercurial personality, his amazing mind, and his incisive voice.
To call Baldwin eloquent is an understatement. His impromptu statements could be as polished as others’ finished poems. He famously ignored all of the established rules of public speaking, and not only ....Read More
A Man About Town
By Phillip William Sheppard
In my first column, I thought I would share with you how my recent novel, The Specialist: The Costa Rica Job came to light. Some of my inspirations in the book came from the people I have met and the places I have visited.
The Specialist, was conceptualized by me a few years ago and debuted on national television, when I was a contestant on the show, Survivor, in February 2011. After my first season on the show, I formed a creative collaboration with my brother, Charles Peterson Sheppard
I commissioned him to write a novel based upon my experiences and persona as a Former Federal Agent with several government agencies. We also incorporated my services as an U.S. Army Retired Veteran.
AsThe Specialist, I travelled extensively, worked on special projects and had classified clearances within the National Crime Information Center, the Defense Investigative Service, Naval Investigative Service and The Office of Counter Intelligence.
Now, it is my good fortune to be the Specialist for the Neworld Review. Living in Los Angeles County, CA affords me the opportunity to be a part of a great city that has tremendous diversity of cultures. I often start my days with a visit to RD Kitchen Breakfast Bar or Peets Coffee, to catch a ....Read More
A Colder War
By Charles Cumming
Read by: Jot Davies
Reviewed by Michael Carey
It takes a special mind to bring together all the minute details and the misinformation to create a successfully thrilling spy novel.
Charles Cumming has proved he has the special mind for just such a task, and rightfully so as he was himself recruited by MI6 (the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service).
He has written more than half a dozen books and received much acclaim. His latest, A Colder War, brings back the spy Thomas Kell (from A Foreign Country).
Kell has been spurned as a result of his previous adventures, but in A Colder War, after a mysterious plane crash claims the life of a senior agent in Turkey, the head of MI6, Amelia Levene, feels there is no one better suited or that she can trust more than Thomas Kell.
He is eager to get back in action, but are his skills still sharp enough as he finds himself on a mole hunt?
I personally applaud Cumming for his work. I enjoyed the ends and outs and the ‘what is going on?’ that continually urges you on as a listener. Cumming may very well be at the forefront of today’s espionage novelists as some claim, and I think this very day I will purchase one....Read More
A WRITER'S WORLD
A Writer's World
A Column by Molly Moynahan
Why I am not part of the literary scene, anywhere
When I was asked to write about the “literary scene” in Chicago I dutifully posted something on Facebook inquiring about where and what it might be and I also went back into my past emails hoping someone might have invited me to something that could resemble a ‘scene’.
Well, they had and I’d ignored it and still felt little was lost by my lack of attendance at this particular pop-up event. For one thing, these people are young and I’m old, there is a great emphasis on partying, and I’m sober, and finally my last novel was published in 2003/2004, attracted quite a bit of good critical attention but failed to embroil me in a ‘scene’
I did appear on cable television in Delaware, close to a NASCAR track where I was interviewed between a local chef making yogurt, and a goat; and no, they weren’t related. When I returned to ....Read More
My name is Shelby Howick, I’m the lead publicist for a newly released, highly anticipated mystery novel set in thrilling New Orleans. I’m contacting you in the hopes that you're interested in mystery writing, and that you’d be open to posting original content for your readers.
D.J. Donaldson is the author of the incredibly popular Andy Broussard/Kit Franklyn Mystery Series, set in New Orleans.
Many people have read the novels, but what many don’t know is that these books almost became a TV series (3 separate times!) The lovable, relatable characters and the beautifully depicted creole setting caught many a producer’s eye—including the former director of programming at CBS.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Shelby Howick, Associate Publicist
Astor + Blue Editions, LLC | 1150 6th Avenue, 6th floor | New York, NY 10036 |www.astorandblue.com
CAJUN NIGHTS AND THE CHARACTERS WITHIN:
THE MANY LIVES OF A TV SERIES THAT NEVER WAS
By D.J. Donaldson
Cajun Nights was my first novel featuring New Orleans medical examiner, Andy Broussard, and his suicide/death investigator, Kit Franklyn. A few weeks after the book was published, I got a call from my agent with the surprising news that, “There’s been a flurry of movie and TV interest in ....Read More