I interviewed Austinite Jennifer Hritz, author of two novels, THE CROSSING, and I, TOO, HAVE SUFFERED IN THE GARDEN, live on the August 7 edition of KAZI Book Review. She recently completed writing her third novel, SLOW BURN. She is a wonderful novelist. Take a listen to the interview:
Tune in Sunday at 12:30 p.m. CST/1:30 p.m. EST for an interview with Lisa Lutz, author of HOW TO START A FIRE. Lutz is best known for her comic mystery novel series featuring the Spellmans, a family of private investigators set in San Franicisco. With her new novel, HOW TO START A FIRE she tells a wild, sad, funny story of twenty years in the friendship of three very different women.
In our light hearted interview we discussed how her new novel has some autobiographical elements, her decision to leave the Spellmans behind, and her new thriller novel coming out in March, THE PASSENGER.
I was joined in the interview by KAZI Book Review contributor Tim Chamberlain.
How to Start a Fire, tells a wild, sad, funny story of twenty years in the friendship of three very different women. Thrown together in college, they grow to adulthood united and divided by secrets, lies, and a single night that shaped all of them.
When UC Santa Cruz roommates Anna and Kate find passed-out Georgiana Leoni on a lawn one night, they wheel her to their dorm in a shopping cart. Twenty years later, they gather around a campfire on the lawn of a New England mansion. What happens in between—the web of wild adventures, unspoken jealousies, and sudden tragedies that alter the course of their lives—is charted with sharp wit and aching sadness in this meticulously constructed novel.
Anna, the de facto leader, is fearless and restless—moving fast to stay one step ahead of her demons. Quirky, contemplative Kate is a natural sidekick but a terrible wingman (“If you go home with him, might I suggest breathing through your mouth”). And then there’s George: the most desired woman in any room, and the one most likely to leave with the worst man.
Shot through with the crackling dialogue, irresistible characters, and propulsive narrative drive that make Lutz’s books so beloved, How to Start a Fire pulls us deep into Anna, Kate, and George’s complicated bond and pays homage to the abiding, irrational love we share with the family we choose.
Lisa Lutz Bio
Lutz is the New York Times bestselling author of The Spellman Files, Curse of the Spellmans, Revenge of the Spellmans, The Spellmans Strike Again, Trail of the Spellmans, Spellman Six: The Next Generation (previously published as The Last Word), Heads You Lose (with David Hayward), and the children’s book, How to Negotiate Everything (illustrated by Jaime Temairik). Her latest book, How to Start a Fire, was published in May 2015. Lutz has won the Alex award and has been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel.
Although she attended UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, the University of Leeds in England, and San Francisco State University, she still does not have a bachelor’s degree. Lisa spent most of the 1990s hopping through a string of low-paying odd jobs while writing and rewriting the screenplay Plan B, a mob comedy. After the film was made in 2000, she vowed she would never write another screenplay. Lisa lives in a town you’ve never heard of in upstate New York.
From the Publisher
Marvel and a Wonder is a darkly mesmerizing epic and literary page-turner set at the end of the twentieth century. In summer 1995, Jim Falls, a Korean War vet, struggles to raise his sixteen-year-old grandson, Quentin, on a farm in southern Indiana. In July, they receive a mysterious gift—a beautiful quarter horse—which upends the balance of their difficult lives. The horse’s appearance catches the attention of a pair of troubled, meth-dealing brothers and, after a violent altercation, the horse is stolen and sold. Grandfather and grandson must travel the landscape of the bleak heartland to reclaim the animal and to confront the ruthless party that has taken possession of it. Along the way, both will be forced to face the misperceptions and tragedies of their past.
Evoking the writing of William Faulkner and Denis Johnson, this brilliant, deeply moving work explores the harrowing, often beautiful marvels of a nation challenged by its own beliefs. Ambitious, expansive, and laden with suspense, Marvel and a Wonder presents an unforgettable pair of protagonists at the beginning of one America and the end of another.
Tune in at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, June 27 to KAZI 88.7FM for my interview with Don Winslow, author of the new novel THE CARTEL
With the release this month of his new novel, THE CARTEL, Don Winslow completes his two book magnum opus, narrating the 30 year conflict between DEA agent Art Keller and Mexican drug lord Adan Barrera that began with the publication of THE POWER OF THE DOG in 2005. Panoramic in scope, THE CARTEL tells the story of the war on drugs in Mexico with unvarnished brutality, depicting not only the extreme violence of the cartels, but the callous policy of the U.S. which contributed to the violence.
THE CARTEL plays out Keller’s obsession with recapturing Barrera after he escapes from a Mexican prison, and Barrera’s desire to have him killed. Keller’s conflict with Barrera, which began in THE POWER OF THE DOG, has ruined his marriage and made him unpopular, but tolerated by his superiors in the DEA. In a literary sense, Keller is Ishmael and Barrera is his Moby Dick. Meanwhile Barrera attempts to reclaim his position as the symbolic head of the drug gangs, engaging in a war with his fellow drug lords, that spills over into the lives of ordinary Mexican citizens with thousands of innocent people dying.
What kept me from feeling the THE CARTEL had created a nihilistic, hopeless world were two characters, Marisol Cisneros, a Mexican doctor that Art falls in love with, and Pablo Mora, a journalist covering the drug war in Juarez, Mexico. These characters, who took up a substantial portion of the narrative, displayed honesty and courage in the face of threats against their own lives. I especiailly enjoyed Pablo, a divorced father of one who has literally covered so many murders in Juarez that he feels “morally exhausted.” Through his narration, the reader sees the daily bravery of the Mexican journalists caught in the crossfire of the drug war.
Ultimately in THE CARTEL, Winslow deftly balanced the morally corrupt world of the drug lords, the morally compromised world of the DEA, and the lives of ordinary Mexican citizen heroes. It kept me entertained while making me think long and hard about the U.S. war on drugs. For those seeking serious novels to read this summer, it should be at the top of their list.
Tune in at 12:30 p.m. CST today to KAZI 88.7FM for interviews with Nelson DeMille, author of the new novel RADIANT ANGEL and Bruce Ferber, author of the new novel CASCADE FALLS. Listen live online through tunein.com or live365.com or their respective apps.
After a showdown with the notorious Yemeni terrorist known as The Panther, Corey has left the Anti-Terrorist Task Force and returned home to New York City taking a job with the Diplomatic Surveillance Group. Although Corey’s new assignment with the DSG—following Russian diplomats working at the U.N. Mission—is thought to be “a quiet end,” he’s happy to be out of the FBI. But Corey realizes something the U.S. government doesn’t: The all-too-real threat of a newly resurgent Russia.
Prescient and chilling. DeMille’s new novel takes us into the heart of a new Cold War with a clock-ticking plot that has Manhattan in its crosshairs.
CASCADE FALLS explores the failed promise of the American Dream. Raised to believe that with hard work, anything is possible, a staggering number of Americans hate their jobs and see little chance of ever escaping the grind. In his tragicomic followup to the laugh-ridden Elevating Overman, Bruce Ferber asks the question: “How does giving up our dreams affect our relationships and our psyches?”
I’ve started the morning by reading a novel set in Afghanistan during our war, THE VALLEY by John Renehan. The protagonist, Lt. Black, has been sent to a remote, dangerous combat outpost in the Nuristan mountains to investigate a 15-6, the army regulation for investigating misconduct by a military unit. So far (I’m on page 120), the novel revolves around Black’s less than idealistic view of his place in the Army. He is clearly burnt out and has lost whatever idealism prompted him to go to officer candidate school, but does have a wry sense of humor and a great b.s. detector.
The author, John Renehan left a promising law career in New York to join the army at the age of 34 and served as an artillery officer in Iraq.