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Volume I, Issue 36
February 9 - February 16, 1998

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In Person
Martin Amis read from his new novel, "Night Train," and ended up rendering the book obsolete. [2]
Barbara Strickland

The Message of Dreams
An interview with Violet Crown winner Lisa Sandlin, author of the collection of short fiction, "Message to the Nurse of Dreams." [3]
Barbara Strickland


Fiction
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Broken Promise
With "Paradise," Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison isn't out to please the crowd. [4]
Matthew DeBord

Status Quo Ante
Lorraine Lach's first novel, "Flowers for Mei-ling," explores the problem of personal power among women under capitalist and communist dominion. [5]
Amy C. Murphy


Non-fiction
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Spinster Doofus
It's true what her critics have been saying: "Babe" feminist Katie Roiphe, a Princeton-educated writer, is an idiot. [6]
Stacey Richter

Story of Our Lives
Taylor Branch's "Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years" is as emotional chronicle of the nation in turmoil. [7]
James Surowiecki

Nothing but Mystery
Greil Marcus' "Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes" says a lot, but still can't capture Dylan's genius. [8]
Steven Robert Allen


Now What?
Love to read? Need some clever ideas? Our library of resources and staff picks are guaranteed to turn on plenty of mental light bulbs via your electrified eye sockets. [11]


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I










n my great fame, I've learned that the worst thing about being a literary celebrity is trying to keep up with everyone's high expectations. Upon the release of my first book, "Confessions of a Worm," critics sent me flowers (which I ate) and sales went through the roof. I mean that literally -- the salespeople had to have a new roof put in. But when my second book, "Wormy Ways: How I Met My Other End," came out, the backlash was unbearable. I don't even have a back, but it was rough nonetheless. People said my book was "self-indulgent" and that it seemed like I'd been "spending too much time in the mulch." I tell you, nothing hurts more than an angry fanbase.

That's why I feel for Martin Amis. The poor chap's been getting a really bad rap for his crime novel "Night Train," an experiment that apparently doesn't pan out. Give the guy a break: one can't write "London Fields" every day, you know. Likewise, Toni Morrison, a Nobel Prize winner, has received mostly lukewarm reviews of her new novel "Paradise." I, for one, was pleased to finally read a solidly positive review of the work.

Even the young Kate Roiphe, whose "The Morning After" seemed to signal the arrival of a new breed of feminist, is getting hit. A critic who read her latest work, "Last Night in Paradise: Sex and Morals at the Century's End," sums it up by calling Roiphe an idiot. Ouch. Note to first-time fiction writer Lorraine Lachs: enjoy the glory your novel "Flowers for Mei-Ling" is generating while it lasts. Readers are fickle.

Ya gotta keep your head, fame or no fame. So it's nice to know that Barbara Strickland, whose short fiction anthology made her interviewer cry, is setting a good example. The key to Strickland's success? Self-honesty. Plus, she knows the difference between yearning and desire. If only I understood that, I might not be so worried about my upcoming book, "Wiggling My Way Into Your Heart." Buy it, please?


Mini Reviews
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Tales of Two Cities
Reviews of books on love, life, and the invention of the Ferris Wheel. [9]
Lisa C. Hickman, Leonard Gill and Susan Ellis

Speed Reader
"Paradise" by Toni Morrison; "Special Cases" by Rosamund Purcell; "The Writer's Life" by Carol Edgarian; "Last Night in Paradise: Sex and Morals at the End of the Century" by Katie Rolphe. [10]
Jessica English, Julie Birnbaum, Stephen Ausherman, Todd Gibson





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