This is the first of a planned two volume history of Europe during the Twentieth Century by Kershaw. It was earlier released in the UK and hit American shelves on November 17, 2015.
Kershaw was the ideal author for this history. He is perhaps the pre-eminent historian regarding Germany, World War Two, and the author of the highly lauded two volume biography of Adolph Hitler.
It should come as no surprise that Germany occupies the central role in this history. Kershaw places the blame for both the First and Second World Wars at Germany's feet. All of the facts are impeccably documented. Kershaw's point to this thoughtful work is a question. Why?
This is not a military history. Nor do the personalities of the key players take center stage. Consider this a work of analytical history. Kershaw's analysis works from start to finish.
This is an astute portrait of nationalism, class struggle, and racial intolerance. Kershaw depicts the effects of the rise of Bolshevism resulting in the development of a movement to right wing politics and the development of fascism.
Kershaw also paints a portrait of a desperate Britain, France, and Soviet Union, all playing for time, delaying the onset of war with Hitler. The policy of Appeasement is painted with absolute clarity. Kershaw's treatment of Stalin's Non-Aggression Pact with Hitler seems a bit mild in light of Soviet atrocities committed during the invasion of Poland.
What is missing from this thorough history is the human touch. The result is a work that would be more at home in the University lecture hall. Kershaw's history would make an excellent textbook. This is one for those who take their history neat. ...more
Full review to follow. This novel is a group read for members of On The Southern Literary Trail, December, 2015. Author Ellen Urbani will be joining uFull review to follow. This novel is a group read for members of On The Southern Literary Trail, December, 2015. Author Ellen Urbani will be joining us to discuss her novel....more
Little Sister Death: A Posthumously Published Work by William Gay
Little Sister Death by William Gay was selected as a group read by members of On the Southern Literary Trail for October, 2015. Special thanks to Trail member Doug H for nominating this work.
William Gay, Hohenwald, Tennessee, October 27, 1941 – February 23, 2012
Moderator's entry, "On the Southern Literary Trail" April 24, 2012:
I'm sad to report that I just learned that William Gay, whose novel Twilightwas nominated earlier today for our May read died February 23, 2012, at the age of 68 of an apparent heart attack. He was found dead in his home in Hoenwald, Tennessee.
Gay was a unique voice in contemporary Southern literature, strongly influenced by Faulkner and McCarthy. He was scheduled to appear at the Southern Festival of Books in October of this year. I will miss him. My meetings with him were always pleasant encounters. Quiet and unassuming, at readings he was soft spoken, so one had to lean forward to hear him read. My first encounter with him was at The Alabama Booksmith in Homewood, Alabama. When he entered the shop I figured he was a fellow who had stepped into the wrong place and was looking for directions. He was dressed in clean carpenter's overalls and a white shirt. He asked where the bathroom was. When he came out he asked if he had time to "burn one" before the reading and signing started. Jake the owner told him, of course, he had time. So I stepped out and "burned one" with him. I really liked the man and I loved his writing. We have lost a wonderful writer. He was at work on a novel he'd been crafting for several years. Should it be published, it will be unfinished.
So, I'm stepping out on the screened porch and burnin' one for William Gay. And I'll lift a shot of Gentleman Jack in his direction.
Funny, I had begun to write a biographical entry for him on our group page because of the interest expressed in his writing. And that led to my discovery of his death. Following is a link regarding his life:
Faber and Faber will publish a "lost" horror novel by the late American writer William Gay.
Editorial director Angus Cargill bought the UK rights from Clare Conville at Conville & Walsh.
Cargill said: “On Friday 31st October last year I was sent a manuscript entitled Little Sister, Death - by our late author William Gay - a novel which we did not previously know about the existence of. You only need to read a very few pages of Little Sister, Death to know you’re in the hands of a master, and if it’s one you have the stomach for. We will publish for Halloween this year to mark what would have been William’s 74th birthday.”
Dzanc Books has acquired the book in the US and will also publish it on 31st October.
Little Sister, Death takes its inspiration from the 19th century Bell Witch haunting of Tennessee, before the story moves into the late 20th century, where a troubled writer moves to a haunted farmstead. Cargill described it as “a sublime piece of writing - with a terrifying fore-shadow of a first chapter”.
He added: “Beautifully written and structured, it is a loving and faithful addition to the field of classic horror, eschewing any notions of irony or post-modern tricks as it aims, instead, straight for your soul. It is a novel we hope - in the wake of recent successes such as The Babadook and N0S4R2 - to make the horror moment of 2015.”
Conville said: “It was so exciting to be told a lost manuscript by the late master of Southern Gothic William Gay had been discovered among his papers. I read Little Sister, Death in one sitting and found it brilliantly constructed, utterly engrossing and deeply frightening. It is thrilling to think that a new generation of readers can now discover William’s work for themselves.”
Little Sister, Death will be followed by Gay’s final novel, The Lost Country, in late 2016.
In short, Dzanc will be providing William Gay admirers with all of his unfinished and unpublished works. A blessing or a curse? The original manuscripts are in the Special Collections of Sewanee University. As a reader who greatly admired all of William Gay's writing published before his death, it's an opportunity to see what Gay was working on at the time of his death. Those who read these works can only speculate what Gay might have intended to finish and what he chose to abandon.
What appears in Little Sister Death contains some vintage William Gay. There are story lines here that hook the reader. Gay chose the classic Bell Witch haunting as the underpinnings for this novel. The Bell family traveled from Kentucky to Robertson County, Tennessee, in the early 1800s. Basically, the Bell family was haunted by a female spirit whose goal was to torment the family until the paterfamilias John Bell died. John's daughter, Elizabeth, or Betsy, was subject to falling into trances when the spirit appeared and proceeded to entertain the citizenry who congregated at the Bell place with graphic sexual descriptions of Elizabeth's behavior and explicitly bawdy humor.
The classic American ghost story has been sought to be proved true and a hoax through the years. Needless to say, folks are opinionated on these things.
But, William Gay gave his own dark spin to Tennessee folklore, jockeying through time with an obvious degree of relish. The Bell family become the Beale family. Through the original landowners to the present, decidedly bad things happen to folks who live on the Beale place.
The most recent occupant is one Binder. A writer. With wife, Corrie. And daughter, Stephie. Binder has written one novel. Completed a second. However, his publisher isn't pleased with the second. Enter Agent who suggests a quick paperback sale. Something commercial. Get the juices flowing. Money in the bank. Food on the table.
Binder's got it. Go to Tennessee. Rent the Beale house. Write first hand the story of the Beale haunting. Well, sure, some locals say sometimes such things are better left alone. But Binder's in a bind. Soon he's drawn deeper and deeper into the Beale story. Binder begins to experience some haunting similarities suffered by previous occupants.
Oooh, who is that flaxen haired girl that appears to Binder in his dreams? Oh, any man would ache for her. Finding the secrets of the Beale haunting make the blood in Binder's veins turn to ice. His obsession is becoming more important than wife and child.
William Gay gives you the shudders with the same ability as Stephen King, who counted himself among Gay's admirers. King considered William Gay's Twilight the best horror novel published in 2006. Readers will find enough "REDRUM" in Little Sister Death to remind them of King's The Shining. There's sex. There's violence. There's evil. You are flipping the pages like mad.
But...then. It. Just. Ends.
And that's the true possibility of posthumously published works.
You pays your money. You takes your chances. Damn. I miss William Gay.
Tom Franklin wrote the introduction to this edition. It is a loving tribute to a man I wish I had gotten to spend a lot more time with than I did.
For the first time William Gay reader, this one should lead you to his other works. For the reader who reads every word Gay wrote, you have to read it.
The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter: Malcolm Mackay's First Volume of the Glasgow Trilogy
"It's ieasy to kill a man. It's hard to kill a man well.
The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter: Malcolm Mackay's First Volume of the Glasgow Trilogy
"It's ieasy to kill a man. It's hard to kill a man well.
Mackay is an extraordinary new voice in crime fiction. It's dark. It's gritty. And Mackay takes the reader by the throat and immerses the hapless plonker who happens to pick up this ambitious trilogy into the underworld of organized crime without mercy. He is unblinking in a straightforward tale of a twenty-nine year old hitman, Colum MacLean, a freelance artist in making other people's problems disappear.
MacLean is careful. He can kill a man well. The object is being cautious, careful, not being rash or reckless. Others in the game can be talkers, bragging about how well they take out a target. That gets you caught. That's not killing a man well. MacLean keeps his own counsel.
More important, MacLean knows you cant stay too busy in this profession. Especially when you're freelance and don't work for an organization. Too many jobs, too close together attracts attention. MacLean is patient. He works regulary, but only enough to keep food on the table and some spending money in the pocket.
But things can become complicated when you get picked up by an organization. Sure, it may be a short term arrangement, as here. The Syndicate of Jamieson and Young have a problem. Their regular button man, an old professional is out of commission with a broken hip. Frank MacLeod, the regular recommends young MacLean as his fill in. MacLeod has taken a shine to the boy. He's got the makings of a careful man who solves a problem well.
Jamieson and Young are in the drug trade. Their problem is Lewis Winter. Winter's been in the business for twenty-five years. Never considered a serious competitor. But Winter wants to improve his station in life. He has a beautiful younger woman, Zara Coe, who aspires to a flashier life style. Winter knows he's getting too old to hold onto Zara. He's beginning to bore her. In the clubs Zara demands Winter take her, men much younger than Winter are paying her welcome attention. Winter's got his pride. Tired of being humiliated.
So, Winter is ready to make a move. Maybe he has support. Maybe he doesn't. Jamieson and Young decide that Lewis Winter has become a necessary death. Winter is a short term solution. If Winter has new muscle behind him, removing him sends a message to his unknown higher ups.
Mackay's prose crackles. His sentences are clean, precise, and race at a staccato pace. Not an unnecessary adjective or adverb interrupts the breakneck pace of this story.
The hit is clean. Simple. Professional. But that's only half the story. Mackay introduces character after character, each with pitch perfect voice. Every chapter builds on the preceding one. This writer has talent that will hold the reader's attention completely rapt.
Perhaps the only honest character is Inspector Michael Fisher. He is not necessarily likable. His assessment of the suspects in the death of Lewis Winter is formed out of complete cynicism. On the right track to solving the murder of Lewis Winter, Fisher is sidetracked by focusing on suspects who are only tangential to the actual solving of the murder case assigned to him. Not even Fisher is without fault in looking for the easy answer.
In an interview regarding his literary influences as a writer, Mackay mentions the obvious. Jim Thompson, Chandler, Hammett. His remarkable narrative is evidence that all those authors have taken seed in Mackay's craft. Add in Richard Stark and Elmore Leonard. Mackay is a force with which to be reckoned.
This first novel leaves Colum MacLean no longer a freelance agent. He is now a member of a Glasgow crime syndicate. His future will be revealed in the final two volumes, How a Gunman Says Goodbye and The Sudden Arrival of Violence. I'll eagerly move from this first novel to its ultimate conclusion.
Read this one. This one comes with my highest recommendation. Five Stars. Solid. ...more
This novel has been called a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee's second novel. It is neither. Perhaps itThe Genesis of To Kill a Mockingbird
This novel has been called a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee's second novel. It is neither. Perhaps it is the Genesis of what many consider the Great American Novel.
More than likely Go Set a Watchman is one of an unknown number of revisions arising from the partnership of fledgling writer Harper Lee and the extraordinary editor Tay Hohoff at Lippincott, the original publisher of TKAM.
The partnership worked diligently between 1955 and 1959 before this novel became TKAM. Hohoff was a tough editor, demanding much of her young author, but recognizing her talent. Charles Shields, in his unauthorized biography, "Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, related Ms. Lee at one point threw her manuscript from her apartment window. She called Hohoff in tears to tell what she had done. Hohoff ordered her protege to get outside and retrieve it. Ms. Lee did. In a snow storm.
By now most know the sensational headlines of early critical reviews of Go Set a Watchman. The beloved American hero Atticus Finch was a racist and bigot. That's why the critics of the stature of Michichko Kakutani of the NY Times get paid the big dollars.
But it's not that simple, though it may be good press. The Scout of Mockingbird returns to Maycomb for a two week visit. She is twenty-six, a resident of New York City. Atticus is seventy-two, ravaged by rheumatoid arthritis.
Aunt Alex is in permanent residence to see after the house and worry over Atticus. Calpurnia has been long retired. Uncle Jack lives closeted in Victorian literature. Dill is in Italy. There is a new face among the familiar cast. Henry is the young attorney who practices with Atticus, a role Atticus had hoped would be filled by Jem. But as it is for all, life has not turned out as Atticus planned.
Everyone expects Jean Louise and Henry will marry. Even our grown up Scout begins to accept the possibility.
However, the South is being changed. There is a pillar of fire moving over the land. It is the Civil Rights Movement. And the White South is resistant, reluctant, and resolute in preserving its power. In Maycomb County blacks outnumber whites. United States Supreme Court Decisions will permanently alter the legal landscape of the South.
The conflict in Go Set a Watchman arises from Jean Louise's revulsion when she learns both Atticus and fiance Henry are members of Maycomb's Citizens' League. As Uncle Jack tells her, it is difficult to recognize one's Gods are human.
If you can imagine Mockingbird without Boo Radley, Tom Robinson, Mrs. Dubose, or Miss Maudie, this would be that book.
If you are looking for a villain like Robert E. Lee Ewell, he's not in this book either. Nor is he replaced as villain by Atticus Finch.
Atticus, as portrayed in this novel, represented the views of many Southerners. And, if I may add, many outside the South.
This week marked the Fiftieth Anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act. The impact of that piece of legislation will far outlast this novel. So will To Kill a Mockingbird. For that novel, more complete, less sarcastic, and cynical, offered the hope of those who would seek to do the right thing.
There are those who say that Mockingbird has outgrown its usefulness. That it is unrealistic, paternalistic, and overly sentimental. That Atticus Finch is too good to be true.
I have known more than one real life Atticus Finch. They exist. They are easy to spot. Many lawyers aspire to be Atticus. Those who only aspire are even easier to find.
So. Three Stars. Yes, Mrs. Hohoff knew a winner when she saw one. She helped Ms. Lee polish rough carbon into a perfect diamond. Go Set a Watchman was the raw carbon....more
In olden days, a glimpse of stocking Was looked on as something shocking. But now, God knows, Anything goe
The Submissive: A Not So Walk on the Wild Side
In olden days, a glimpse of stocking Was looked on as something shocking. But now, God knows, Anything goes. Good authors too who once knew better words Now only use four-letter words Writing prose. Anything goes. If driving fast cars you like, If low bars you like, If old hymns you like, If bare limbs you like, If Mae West you like, Or me undressed you like, Why, nobody will oppose. When ev"ry night the set that"s smart is in- Truding at nudist parties in Studios. Anything goes.
Cole Porter, 1934
“I will have you do things you never thought possible, but I can also bring you a pleasure you never imagined.”― Tara Sue Me, The Submissive
What? You ask if I read this? Well, yeah. I read it. It was a long Independence Day weekend, I took a Sabbatical from my usual walk on the Southern Literary Trail and decided to take a walk on the wild side. Besides, after all, this was written by a lady in a small town somewhere in the Southeastern United States. And she looks like this.
Tara Sue Me
Well, that's not her real name. Yes, it sounds like an Italian dessert. She said that's exactly how she came up with her pen name, too. Thinking of Tiramisu. And, I don't know what small town in which southeastern state. However, I imagine that there are a number of ladies in that small town who know exactly who she is and they have rushed out and bought this book and the numerous volumes that have followed. I believe she's up to six now.
I wonder if she has read Mark Twain. And if she agrees with him. "Write what you know." It conjures up innumerable images having read this book. *ahem*
This particular title is the first of three about Abigail King a 30s something librarian who's crushing on Nathaniel West, well known CEO and man about New York City. Abby is a bit tired of the vanilla sex scene. Been there, done it. Bored with it. She knows that West is a dominant and he's looking for a new submissive. She applies for the position. And she gets it. And she loves it.
There are complications. Of course there are complications. Submissive meets Dominant. Submissive falls in love with Dominant. Conflict! Can this "Scene" be saved? Can love conquer the will to dominate? How about a little "switch"?
Are any of you wondering what the heck I'm talking about? Do I need to explain? Oh, heck. I'm writing a review here. Give me a break. You don't like it? So SUE ME! Oh, that's bad. So bad.
Sigh. Where was I? Well, it's confession time. I find myself doing that a lot lately. Almost twenty years ago I was in a number of writing groups. I would get off-- wait--poor choice of words. When I would finish a long day in the court room I would relax by writing. Short stories. A writing friend told me about a group called the Erotica Readers Association. I laughed it off. Then I got to thinking about it. At the time I was trying a lot of sexual assault cases. What an interesting way to get some inside the mind thinking being in a forum like that. So I joined. Believe me. There is definitely a lot of truth to the saying "Different strokes for different folks."
I began writing stories, romances, historical fiction, all with a bit of heat. Call them romantica. They weren't bad. Actually, a number of my stories were voted most publishable. I never attempted to do that. No time. No editor. No agent. So it goes.
There were two distinct camps in the group. The "vanilla" crew and the anything goes crew, living "the life." If the less adventurous camp was vanilla, the other camp was tutti frutti. Here were the Doms and the Subs. The ones into S/M. The ones into B/D. Although current popular fiction such as Fifty Shades of Grey and The Submissive commonly group all the subgroups together as BDSM, there are distinct fetishist pursuits.
Tara Sue Me has done her research. There's a little bit of everything going on in Abigail's and Nathaniel's "relationship." He is the classic dominant, demanding control and possession of Abigail. It requires Abigail to submit to whatever Nathaniel requires without question. It is a consensual relationship. Nathaniel demands that Abigail pleasure him in whatever fashion he demands. In return he will pleasure her or withhold it as he sees fit. He will also chastise her if she does not obey him. He will whip her. She will accept it. There is a way out if Abigail chooses to leave. All she must do is speak her "safe word."
Until then, Abigail belongs to Nathaniel. To show that she belongs to him, Nathaniel presents her with a collar. Not a leather collar, or a metal collar. Nathaniel West is a very wealthy man. Abigail's collar is made of diamonds bound in pure platinum.
“If you choose to wear this, you’ll be marked as mine. Mine to do with as I wish. You will obey me and never question what I tell you to do.”
There is bondage. There is discipline. There is domination. Nathaniel carries out carefully crafted scenes of sexual acts requiring more and more levels of submission from Abigail, demanding greater levels of trust.
Nathaniel is a master at using a riding crop administering the perfect degree of pain that is excruciatingly pleasurable. Abigail finds herself experiencing levels of pleasure she has not known were possible.
But he also whips for punishment. Brutally. He has a whipping bench for that purpose. A warm up whipping is necessary because Abigail could not stand the true chastisement whipping without it. Twenty lashes with a leather strap because she got seven hours of sleep one night instead of eight. Ouch.
A Whipping Block; this one was at Dachau.
Yet Nathaniel, the bad boy, has a secret in his past, a vulnerability. Is there some underlying inadequacy in him that demands he completely control others to minimize his own demons?
Sue Me even incorporates elements of "topping from below" where the submissive actually becomes the dominant of the pair in a sexual scenario. This scene in the life is known as a switch. The author handles it quite, quite well. It's convincing. It might make you squirm a little in your chair.
But there are some woeful incongruities in this novel. For all her worldliness in her experiences in the Vanilla sex world, Abigail has never been kissed "down there." Poor Abby. All those experiences, and she's never found a man who appreciated the scent of a woman? That's a damned shame.
Yet, Abby can swallow the equivalent of a length of fire hose under pressure instinctively, relaxing the muscles of her throat. She breathes through her nose without difficulty.
Of course, Tara Sue Me creates Nathaniel as a man hung like a stallion. Rather stereotypical. He is instantly ready to stand and deliver. And when Nathaniel tells Abigail he will have her five times in a night he does and she is happily amazed. Actually, she's gaga for this guy. The perfect gentleman, Nathaniel "releases" just after Abigail shudders through her orgasm. Even better are all the times they arrive at la petite mort together.
The Little Death
Everything is just fine until she falls in love with him. Will things work out, or not? Well, it's no spoiler to repeat, it is the first volume of a trilogy. *ahem*
Is this true BDSM? Let's call it BDSM Lite. It is a romance kicked up a notch. BAM! Ala Emeril Lagasse. Tara Sue Me knows how to sprinkle a little essence into the recipe.
What did I think? It's okay. Tara Sue Me is no Anais Nin. Few are. Will I read the remaining volumes? It's a toss up. Then again. I've got a thing about smart, sharp women; especially librarians and booksellers. Well, yes, I'm rather mature. I'm not dead.