Weekly Wire

Volume I, Issue 39
March 2 - March 9, 1998

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The Devils of "The Deep Green Sea"
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler discusses Vietnam, his new novel and the nature of fiction. [2]
James Busbee

To Preserve and Protect
Preserving, conserving and restoring priceless texts at UT's Humanities Research Center. [3]
Claiborne Smith

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City Life
Henry Roth's last novel, "Requiem for Harlem," is a triumphant finale to the late writer's Ira Stigman series. [4]
James Surowiecki

Never Again
Isaac Bashevis Singer's newly translated "Shadows on the Hudson" is a peculiar blend of plenitude and despair. [5]
Adam Kirsch

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Naughty Fun
Two new books point out the differences in sexual attitudes then and now. [6]
James DiGiovanna

Redskins Are Dangerous and Other Lessons
Borden and Posner's "Big Book of Little Books." [7]
Stephen Ausherman

Woman of Words
If you aren't already familiar with Sonia Sanchez, once you've made her acquaintance you'll wonder how she managed to slip through the cracks of literary fame. [8]
Mari Wadsworth

Hitting Below the Belt
"Will the Real John Callahan Please Stand Up" is a tour-de-force of sick cartooning from a quadriplegic with attitude. [9]
James DiGiovanna

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hat's the secret to good art?

What does it take to restore a six-hundred-year-old book?

What have we forgotten about sex in the '90s that we knew back in the '70s?

You'll find answers to these and other questions in various places throughout this week's Books section. As a character says in the Whit Stillman film "Metropolitan," "I prefer reading criticism to reading the actual book -- you get all the ideas, but you get to hear a response to them as well."

One of the best responses within can be found in an analytical look at "The Sexual State of the Union" by Susie Bright and "Sex American Style" by Jade Bodware. Via a meticulous compare-and-contrast approach, the critic pins down what's good and bad about each book by bouncing them against each other. Bounce bounce bounce. Speaking of which, just look at those book covers!

Robert Olen Butler doesn't need no critic to cut to the heart of his work. In an interview, he does that himself. The Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writer's explanation of art, and how it is inextricably linked to the subconscious, really hit home for me. All this time, I've been letting my conscious mind wrestle my unconscious mind to the floor until it cried "Uncle!" No wonder I got headaches.

You and I may find this "subconscious mind" stuff fascinating, but here's one group of bookworms who are much more interested in book bindings and gobs of glue. They're text preservers, people who restore hundreds-of-years-old books and speak using weird jargon like "plinth," "gat vellum," and "yaps." A secret society, if you will. I wonder if they have a handshake.

Additional book reviews touch on the works of Sonia Sanchez, Isaac Bashevis Singer, John Callahan and "The Big Book of Little Books." You got questions? They got answers.

Mini Reviews
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Speed Reader
"The Owl's Song" by Janet Campbell Hale; "Brown Water Cafe" by Bill Barrett; "Geographies of the Heart" by Kate Fuller Niles; "Shadows of a Childhood" by Elisabeth Gille. [10]
Stephen Ausherman, Valerie Yarberry, Leslie Davis, Julie Birnbaum

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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