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Alan Cheuse: An Armful of Books for Summer

Jun 13, 2005 (All Things Considered)

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Never mind that the release of the sixth Harry Potter book is still a month away. Summer is just around the corner, and our book reviewer Alan Cheuse has been busy compiling his picks for the season.

Whether your summer plans include the beach, or the mountains, or just your own backyard, there's probably something on his list for you.

Fiction:

The Practice of Deceit, by Elizabeth Benedict (Houghton Mifflin): "The first-person story of the marriage between a Scarsdale, New York, therapist and his South Boston-born divorce lawyer wife — a marriage coming apart at the seams. Benedict tells it from the man's point of view, and the story practically spills into your lap as you turn the pages."

Natives and Exotics, by Jane Alison (Harcourt): "In a lyrical series of chapters, [Alison] recalls the adventures of a family of wanderers and settlers and diplomats, with an early cameo appearance by the great German naturalist and explorer Alexander Von Humboldt... a fascinating summer journey between book covers that spans centuries and continents."

Europe Central, by William Vollman (Viking): "Vollman's depiction of the struggle between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia reads like Solzhenitsyn on acid, with a surreal romance starring [Russian composer Dmitry] Shostakovich at the center of the book, and major battles and betrayals and genocide erupting about the edges."

Sunstorm, by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter (Del Rey): "An absolute must for science fiction fans," this book is the conclusion to the authors' "A Time Odyssey" series.

Legends, by Robert Littell (Overlook): "The spy novel of the summer — a tour de force about a former CIA agent who's taken on so many false identities he's not sure who he is."

The Right Madness, by James Crumley (Viking): Written by "Montana's answer to Mickey Spillane," this hard-boiled P.I. novel opens on a "seemingly idyllic summer evening and soon leads to a lot of murder and mayhem — and gruff male meditations on the joys and rigors of Crumley's late middle-aged private eye."

 

Nonfiction:

The Restless Sleep, by Stacy Horn (Viking): In "an obsessive nonfiction account" of New York City Police Department's cold-case squad, Horn "writes in outrage at [long-unsolved crimes] and with great affection for both the living and the dead."

 

Young Adult:

Broken China, by Lori Aurelia Williams (Simon & Schuster): "Young-adult fiction with a true voice, about children raising children."

 

Poetry:

William Carlos Williams: Selected Poems, edited by Robert Pinsky (Library of America): A new volume of Williams' poetry — over 100 poems, including the lively and goofy "Danse Russe."

CD: Native Joy for Real by Joy Harjo (Mekko Productions/Distributed by Wings Press): An American Indian poet sings her poems and plays sax.

 

Short Story Collections:

The Wonder Spot, by Melissa Bank (Viking)

Follies, by Ann Beattie (Scribner)

A Perfect Stranger, by Roxana Robinson (Random House)

Tropical Fish, by Doreen Baingana (University of Massachusetts Press)

Nobody's Baby, by Leo Litwak (forthcoming from El Leon Literary Arts)

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