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Reader's Forum at MostlyFictionMostlyFiction.com Newsletter Update

Posted to subscriber list on APR 25, 2004.

Hello, MostlyFiction.com readers!

Sixteen new reviews were posted to MostlyFiction.com. Click on the book covers to read the reviews; click on reviewers name to learn more about the reviewer.

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LITTLE CHILDREN by Tom Perotta
Reviewed by Shannon Bloomstran

Thirty-ish parents of young children raising their kids in a sleepy American suburb where nothing ever seems to happen -- at least until a convicted child molester moves back to town and two restless parents begin an affair. Written with fluency and dark humor, Perotta exposes the adult dramas unfolding amidst the swingsets and slides of an ordinary American playground. This could be this year's must read.

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THE MADONNA OF EXCELSIOR by Zakes Mda
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

In 1971, nineteen citizens of Excelsior in South Africa's white-ruled Free State were charged with breaking apartheid's Immorality Act, which forbade sex between blacks and whites. Taking this case as raw material for his alchemic imagination, Zakes Mda tells the story of a family at the heart of the scandal -and of a country in which apartheid concealed interracial liaisons of every kind.

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LINKS by Nuruddin Farah
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Jeebleh is returning to Mogadiscio from New York for the first time in twenty years. It is not a nostalgia trip for him-Jeebleh's last residence here was a jail cell. And who could feel nostalgic for a city like this? The U.S. troops have recently come and gone, and the decimated city is ruled by clan warlords and patrolled by qaat-chewing gangs who shoot civilians to relieve their adolescent boredom.

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PEYTON AMBERG by Tama Janowitz
Reviewed by Jenny Dressel

Peyton Amberg is a travel agent who really gets around-in more ways than one. In her latest no-holds-barred take on urban malaise, Janowitz (Slaves of New York, The Male Cross Dresser Support Group) chronicles the international romps of a modern-day Madame Bovary. Gritty.

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SUNSET AND SAWDUST by Joe Lansdale
Reviewed by Judi Clark

"Mojo storyteller" Lansdale sets this one during the Depression era in East Texas. It starts with a tornado and a rape-in-progress at least until Sunset Jones, victim no more, shoots the rapist in the head with his own gun. He happens to have been her husband and the town's Constable. As it is, Sunset replaces her husband as town Constable and taking the job more serious than her husband, continues to straighten out a few crooked things. Excellent introduction to this writer.

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THE MAN IN MY BASEMENT by Walter Mosley
Reviewed by Hagen Baye

Charles Blakey is a young black man whose life is slowly crumbling. When a stranger offers him $50,000 in cash to rent out his basement for the summer, Charles needs the money too badly to say no. He knows that the stranger must want something more than a basement view. Sure enough, he has a very particular--and bizarre--set of requirements. Mosley brilliantly plunges into the more literary world with a smooth reading novel full of ideas; just like all his books, only better.

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HADRIAN'S WALL by William Dietrich
Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

When the Roman emperor Hadrian first envisioned the awesome ediface in A.D. 122, he used stone, wood, and iron to shield Roman Britannia forever from the unconquered Celtic barbarians. Stretching over seventy miles to divide the island, Hadrian's Wall has maintained the security of the Roman Empire's northern outpost for more than two hundred years. Now a Roman bride has come who will unleash jealousy, passion, and an epic war that will shake a tired and tottering empire to its core.

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THE HELL SCREEN: A MYSTERY OF ANCIENT JAPAN by I.J. Parker
Reviewed by Mary Whipple

Eleventh-century Japan: After a difficult but successful assignment as provisional governor of Eichigo, Akitada Sugawara is finally allowed to return to Heian Kyo. But instead of a triumphant homecoming, Akitada must ride ahead of his entourage to the sickbed of his dying mother. Fading light and a steady downpour interrupt his journey, forcing him to take refuge in a temple where a brilliantly illustrated hell screen and a piercing cry disturb his restless sleep. A woman has been murdered, and because of his reputation for detective work, Akitada must solve another mystery.

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THE PRISONER OF VANDAM STREET by Kinky Friedman
Reviewed by Hagen Baye

A malaria-stricken Kinky Friedman is confined to his apartment. The faithful Village irregulars hear of the Kinkster's malady and of course rush to the rescue with their own brand of sympathy. When Kinky somehow finds himself blessedly alone one day, he spots a woman in the window of the apartment across the street. To his horror, it appears she is being beaten by a man. Sure that he's just witnessed a crime, Kinky gets the cops on the case. The problem is no one else saw or heard anything.

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THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE by audrey Niffenegger
Reviewed by Greg West

If you've been paying close attention to these newsletters -- you'll remember I said something about choosing not to review this book. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "'Tis the good reader that makes a good book." Obviously this book isn't for everyone, but if you like something that stretches a bit and is still literary, you might be interested in this one. Greg's review clearly converted me -- I have my paperback copy on pre-order.

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HOT PLASTIC by Peter Craig
Reviewed by Chuck Barksdale

Kevin's dad, Jerry, is a crook. And he taught his son every trick in the book. Masters of identity theft, Kevin and Jerry move from one seedy motel to another, always trying for the big score. Colette is a runaway who dreams of conning her way into the upper echelons of high society. Just a teenager, she's already a tough and talented grifter, and soon becomes Jerry's girlfriend and accomplice. The three are going for one final scam, a patchwork of old and new techniques that should set them all up for life. The question is, would they rather work together or show each other up? (Trade Paperback)

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KILLER BODY by Bonnie Hearn Hill
Reviewed by Jenny Dressel

Wholesome, intelligent and enviably slender, Julie Larimore has been the spokesperson for Killer Body Weight Loss for almost seven years. Then suddenly she vanishes. While fighting off the media frenzy that surrounds Julie's disappearance, the company's maverick founder, Bobby Warren, starts his search for a new spokesmodel for Killer Body. Narrating the story is newspaper reporter Rikki Fitzpatrick, who blames her cousin Lisa's death on her obsession with Julie Larimore and Killer Body. From the author of Intern.

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AN UNPARDONABLE CRIME by Andrew Taylor
Reviewed by Jenny Dressel

An irresistible literary thriller in the tradition of The Alienist and An Instance of the Fingerpost, set in early 1800s England and involving a young Edgar Allan Poe, who is not the narrator but a linking character.

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THE BIG YEAR: A TALE OF MAN, NATURE AND FOWL OBSESSION by Mark Obmascik
Reviewed by Poornima Apte

Every year on January 1, a quirky crowd of adventurers storms out across North America for a spectacularly competitive event called a Big Year -- a grand, grueling, expensive, and occasionally vicious, "extreme" 365-day marathon of birdwatching. Prize-winning journalist Mark Obmascik creates a dazzling narrative of the 275,000-mile odyssey that three obsessives take as they fight to the finish.

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FAT GIRLS AND LAWN CHAIRS by Cheryl Peck
Reviewed by Kam Aures

A delightful debut about the misadventures of a woman of size. Cheryl Peck has stories to tell--about her cats, about her family, and about what it's like to be a gay woman of size living in the heartland. Peck unfolds all these stories with a healthy sense of humor and intelligent wit in a book that reads like fiction and explores the themes of family, growing up, love, and loss.

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WATER WINGS by Kristen den Hartog
Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer

Darlene Oelpke is getting married, again. After a string of failed relationships, beautiful, vampish Darlene has finally chosen a second husband. Her grown-up daughters, Vivian and Hannah, are home for the occasion, and find themselves immersed in memories of their girlhood both thrilling and tragic. And as they revisit the landscape of their youth - the river, the forest, their worn-out green house - they uncover long-buried secrets, as well as deep ties to one another.

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Trivia Question: Which of the above writers is actress Sally Field's son? (Click here for answer.)

Judi Clark
MostlyFiction.com

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