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Books

Volume I, Issue 25
November 24 - December 1, 1997

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The Rest of His Days
Author Lars Eighner and his famous dog Lizbeth are struggling to stay off the streets again. [2]
Arthur Bradford

Dying Words
Thomas Lynch believes in the physical acts of embalming and burial, the rituals that allow us to face death as we face the dead. He also knows they provide plenty of material. Meet the undertaker as raconteur. [3]
Chris Wright

In Person
Outdoor humorist Patrick McManus is a master of book-signing chat. [4]
Jay Hardwig

Mixed-Up Metaphor
Though Vivian Gornick derides Tucson's ability to inspire, she's just published a book of critical essays, "The End of the Novel of Love," which she conceived six years ago while teaching here. [5]
Merrik Bush

A Tale Of (At Least) Two Imaginary Cities
When is a fiction not a fiction? And who the hell cares? [6]
James DiGiovanna

Money Troubles
Author William Greider explores the increasing difficulties caused by unchecked wealth. [7]
Gregory McNamee

Library of America
With two retrospectives, the Library of America installs hardboiled crime-fiction writers alongside the masters. [8]
Jonathan Veitch

Tom Piazza
In the jazz wars, author Tom Piazza carries Wynton's flag. [9]
Jon Garelick

Sex, Shrugs and Rock 'n' Roll
How bad can a book about about America's best/worst schlock rock band be? Pretty bad. [10]
Michael Henningsen

Media Mix
When last we heard from cartoonist Ted Rall, he was telling us to quit work and do something meaningful. Guess what -- he took his own advice. [11]


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ooh, there's some disturbing material in this week's Books section. Read no farther if you're weak of heart.

First off, this here article about Lars Eighner tells a story almost as tragic as that of Elvis Presley. Like the King, Lars went from having nothing, to having everything, to having nothing again -- all in a few short years. The homeless writer won accolades after publishing "Travels with Lizbeth," lived large on royalties for a while, then went broke after failing to produce another big seller. Now he's on the streets again. Care to help? Buy his book.

Eighner's tale may be sad, but it's nothing compared to the stories related in Thomas Lynch's "The Undertaking: Life Studies From the Dismal Trade." As the title suggests, Lynch works as an undertaker, and all his book's insights stem from his observations at funerals. There's some levity within the pages, however: at one point, Lynch lays out a proposal that golf courses and cemetaries be combined. This interview explains.

Then there's Vivian Gornick. Instead of writing about failure and success, or life and death, Gornick writes about the nonexistence of love. Her book, "The End of the Novel of Love," lays bare Gornick's belief that love is an illusion which has no place in our 20th-century cultural narrative; for her, happy endings can just as well be divorces as marriages. No love? That gives me the chills.

There's plenty more disturbing material in the following reads:

Brrr! Get me out of here!


Speed Reader
"Speaking Freely: A Memoir" by Nat Hentoff; "Byrne" by Anthony Burgess; "The Autobiography of Foudini M. Cat" by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer; "Best American Gay Fiction 2" by Brian Bouldrey. [12]
Susan Schuurman, Stephan Ausherman, Leslie Davis, Chris Romero

A Potpourri of Pages
Reviews of Ken Auletta's chronicle of the corporate Internet wars, Patrick McGilligan's biography of Fritz Lang, and Mary Doria Russell's novel "The Sparrow." [13]
Stuart Wade, Chris Baker, and Adrienne Martini

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