Author Interview With Marshal Zerinque of "Writers' Read";

America Reads, Blogspot Search: "mild"

Blogger's pen

Marshal: Who are your favorite authors and what have you been reading?

Rosemary: and Larry: We share one favorite author, Ken Follett, and his two historical novels: Pillars of the Earth and the location sequel, World Without End. Pillars plunges us into twelfth-century Kingsbridge, England. Follett gives us accurate medieval history, with the pace and action of a thriller. All his characters are flesh-and-blood. In Pillars we follow a young architect and his inglorious attempts to build a Gothic cathedral; the walls keep falling down--until the invention of flying buttresses. A gritty young woman survives rape, the destruction of her business, and betrayal. Follett weaves a tapestry of daily English society: the Church and its politics; the sheep farmers and the wool industry; the powerful, corrupt knights. World Without End continues the saga two hundred years later in the same town. We live with two boys and two girls, through floods, famine, the plague, and ruthless leaders determined to destroy them and their dreams. What is so satisfying about both books is that Follett allows human goodness to triumph without sappiness, with absolutely authentic emotions and logical successes.

Larry: I've always enjoyed adventure novels that give me a taste of foreign lands and cultures, including: Robert Ruark in Africa (Something of Value, Uhuru, & Poor No More) and James Clavell's historically precise Asian novels, particularly Shogun, which takes place in feudal Japan; and Noble House, which opens a window into Hong Kong banking practices.

My all time number two spot goes to Leon Uris (Mila 18, Hajj, Trinity, & QB VII) who has a penchant for delving into cultural and religious clashes. He has a special knack for fairly presenting both sides of any issue. He also makes the cases for both hope and hopelessness.

For fun and escape I read thrillers: (Brad Meltzer, David Baldacci, Clive Cussler, & Wilbur Smith) and mysteries (P.D. James, Elizabeth Peters, & Elizabeth George).

Rosemary: I love the novels of Tom Wolfe--deeply satiric, cutting to the heart of human foibles, but driven by suspenseful plots. Fully drawn portraits: the master-of-the-universe bond trader who takes a wrong turn in Harlem (Bonfire of the Vanities) and the puffed up southern real estate tycoon brought to his knees by his bankers (A Man in Full). In I Am Charlotte Simmons, the most recent, a naive freshman from a backwater town learns the sordid side of university/fraternity life, compromising her academic brilliance. Wolfe's books paint larger-than-life pictures of particular segments of society.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel. The story begins in India; the body of it takes place on the ocean. The plot is so preposterous, yet hypnotizing, that I'm sitting in the boat with the animals, sun-scorched, starving, and a true believer despite myself.

Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections follows an older Midwestern couple, the husband in the early stages of Alzheimer's, and his wife's despair and anger. Each of their three grown children on the East Coast is trapped in his or her career problems and neuroses. How they cope and come together, reaching resolution and correcting their disfunctions is a universal story today, yet surprisingly gripping here.

I just finished two books by Alice Hoffman: The Ice Queen and The Third Angel. Her style is deceptively simple. When she writes from the viewpoint of young women in their teens or twenties she touches nerves of recognition. (As much as I admire her writing, her preoccupation with death puts me off a bit.) The Third Angel has a unique, weird structure: it can be read both forward and backward.

A Dog About Town by J.F. Englert is a delightful mystery for any dog lover. This chocolate Lab thinks, philosophizes, and reads (e.g., The Divine Comedy; he likes the translation.) He can't talk, of course, but he pushes alphabet cereal around with his nose to leave his owner clues to solving crimes.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. The author didn't start out affluent. Far from it. But now she lives on Park Avenue in New York and she's in a taxi on her way to a party, when she spots her mother rummaging in a dumpster. A crisp, jolting memoir.