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New & Noteworthy

ISSUE:  Spring 2004

Argument & Song, by Stanley Plumly, Handsel Book, December 2003. $30
With a hard wedge driven between literary criticism and memoir, it’s rare to find such an insightful book that is also so personal.

Dark Age Ahead, by Jane Jacobs. Random House, May 2004. $23.95
Jacobs’s quintessential Death and Life of Great American Cities changed the way we looked at urban planning. Now she urges us to think even more broadly—or face the consequences.

Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory, by Edward J. Larson. Random House, May 2004. $21.95
Who would dare attempt a sweeping history of evolutionary theory? Edward J. Larson pulls it off with seeming ease. Difficult concepts distilled into elegant prose.

I Sailed with Magellan, by Stuart Dybek. FSG, November 2003. $24
A brilliantly wrought sequence of stories about Chicago’s rough South Side. Only the very best can pluck such beauty from such brutality.

Language of Blood, by Jane Jeong Trenka. Borealis Books, September 2003. $23.95
A Korean adoptee wrestles with her identity in small-town Minnesota, while an Asian-obsessed stalker closes in. A lyrical memoir with edge-of-your-seat tension.

Not Till We Are Lost, by William Wenthe. LSU, December 2003. $22.95
These poems by a Jersey boy dislocated into West Texas ripple with an urgency to fill gaps—from the need to learn the names of new birds to the deaths of parents made worse by distance. Terse but always heartfelt.

Truth & Beauty: A Friendship, by Ann Patchett. HarperCollins, May 2004. $23.95 A painfully honest exploration of what makes great friendships and how to survive when your best friend dies. Patchett bares all. The resulting insights are sometimes banal, sometimes blinding—a lot like life.


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