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Featured book: The Antelope Wife, by Louise Erdrich:
Review Review, and full page on the writer.[Booklist]

 American Indian Subjects

You'll find a solid list of American Indian writers in this area, as well as some useful secondary sources. In the General section I've identified books that don't qualify as 'literary' (whatever that means) but are useful for their information, insight, and speculation. They may or may not be by Indian writers. In the American Indian Literature section you will find Scott Momaday, Jim Welch, Ray Young Bear: authors of fiction, poetry, etc. who are generally regarded as exceptional writers and American Indian. (Who's an American Indian? Don't get me started.)
I've also added a separate section, 'In the Drum Circle,' for non-Indian writers who are respected by American Indian readers for their understanding of their neighbor cultures.


Featured Book:
Tom King
Green Grass, Running Water
ISBN: 0553373684
Bantam, Paperback
 Tom King is a very funny man. Green Grass, Running Water may not be the funniest book ever written by an Indian, but it's one of the funniest books not written by Mark Twain. If Coyote had read Twain and then decided, "Hey, I can do that kind of writing!" this is what we'd've ended up with. A middle-aged man whose girl friend can't decide who she wants to father her child and then hit the grit (her biological clock just started clanging), a bunch of old guys who may have escaped from a senior citizens' home, a polyester sleazeball who isn't all that bad, and a dam that may provide more running water than we expected in our flat. Nice mix, lots of fun, some things to tell you about being Indian in Canada.

 Science Fiction

I'm building here; please be patient. This will never be a warehouse for Sci-Fi (I know, I know. Sue me), but I will try to post my own favorites and things I think others who share my tastes would like. For now, a few representative books for each writer. Although I like some high-tech writers (Hal Clement, Larry Niven), my real interest is writers who explore cultures and values, with a secondary taste for writers whose mastery of language is to be savored like a well-made sauce or Isaak Perlman's Bach. So Sturgeon, Cherryh, Card, and Le Guin, Gene Wolfe. Those guys.

Featured Book: [Booklist]The Morgaine Novels
C. J. Cherryh  
Gate of Ivrel
ISBN: 0886773210
DAW Books, Paperback
Well of Shiuan
ISBN: 0886773229
DAW Books, Paperback [Out of Print]
Fires of Azeroth
ISBN: 0886773237
DAW Books, Paperback
Exile's Gate
ISBN: 0886772540
DAW Books, Paperback
 The Morgaine novels, a trilogy that magically grew a fourth volume, is one of the best fictions of its kind. Review
Cherryh has her own web site: www.cherryh.com

 Mysteries

I've been adding to my own list of favorite mystery writers fairly rapidly, and I'll be sharing my recommendations here. Currently, you'll find Andrew Vachss, Tony Hillerman, Nevada Barr, and a few others.

Featured Book:
Andrew Vachss  
Safe House
ISBN: 0375700749
Paperback
 Vachss gets the combination of factual reporting and fiction right here, and the result is vintage Burke. A Neo-Nazi stalking his wife is the key to Burke's education in the network of safe houses and protective agencies for women. A new eccentric is added to the mix, a Inuit/Irish survivor named Crystal Beth who nearly gets Burke out of his Flood/Belle funk. Pansy is getting long in the tooth, but Max, Michelle, and the gang remain the most believeable and astonishing 'A' team on the planet.
Vachss is taking some licks lately because his readers are becoming 'more sophisticated.' Whatever. I don't read Vachss for the same reason I read John Fowles, and I don't expect Pulitzer fiction. I expect a story that moves quickly and cleanly to a solid, fairly apocalyptic resolution. I expect Burke's obsessions, and I don't mind Vachss' fairly naked commercials for his own causes (the Thai Boycott, reviving Judy Henske's reputation, CIVITAS). It would be interesting to ask the 'purists' this stuff bothers if they object to advertising on T-shirts and sports teams so decalled with 'endorsements' that you can't make out the team colors.
So awright, be warned: Vachss interrupts for commercials sometimes. Burke has a rather tedious monomania about pedophiles. All good looking women have big butts. Get over it. Read the rest of the book, and you will find that the dialogue is not getting regurgitated from the last novel. Vachss repeats some facts, because he is always looking to the new reader, not the members of the club. Burke is growing, and he is growing toward a realization that I expect in each new book but am never disappointed by its lack. Burke doesn't want to tell us his story. But he will. And in the meantime, he will keep killing the real boogey men who haunt our streets, and I'll enjoy watching.

 Here Comes Everybody

The potpourri table, where you'll find anything I think is notable whether it falls in the categories or not. Margaret Atwood, Isabel Fonseca, Wallace Stegner: anyone who doesn't fit in the categories and deserves attention.


Featured Book:
Margaret Atwood  
The Robber Bride
ISBN: 0385491034
Paperback
 Margaret Atwood: A discovery I made quite by accident, and one I am savoring slowly, like a delicious cigar. I've posted a review of her newest novel, Alias Grace.
In The Robber Bride she does such a grand job of getting inside each narrator that the voices are the surprise the story has to offer. That, and what may be her best line: "Westley [the thinker's husband] was boring, like one's children." Her women are absolutely women without that seeming a parochial limitation (I had my male childhood miseries growing up in the forties and fifties, and I knew girls like the girls in Cat's Eye).
A woman whose work I love and admire once announced to a group of feminists after I had introduced her that men shouldn't write about female characters, because not being women, they can't understand women. She was 27 or so and had something to prove. I expect she's outgrown that silliness by now. Atwood certainly has. She writes brilliantly about men, and women, and how utterly they don't understand each other. The friend who turned me on to her praised her 'sarcasm'; I'd rather call it irony. Her books are full of love, but not the smarmy sort, the kind that knows the beloved is boring, and snot-nosed, and belches, and that being loved is a temporary condition from which we usually recover.

 Searching for Something Else?

And finally, if you are looking for a book that I haven't listed, you can initiate an Amazon.com search from here.
 
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