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Books and Reading QuicknotesMore of the Harry Potter sagaReading -- recommended and otherwise(Click on a book title or cover to order that book from Amazon.com)Books and Reading Quicknotes

Heads Up For Dr. Seuss

Dr.Seuss, believe it or not, was once a political cartoonist. His drawings appeared in PM, a wonderful New York paper that unfortunately died in 1948. Seuss especially wanted to alert Americans to the horrors of Nazism in Europe and the need to oppose it. Now, New Press is publishing (Nov. 1999, $25) a collection of the political cartoons. If you love Dr. Seuss look for this one.

Note to writers: A July 3 article about Seuss in The New York Times reported that he received 27 rejection slips for "To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street" (Random House, paper $2.75) before it was finally published. Take heart!

As we have all read Scribner has published "True at First Light," (Scribner, $26) which is Ernest Hemingway's last book that was unpublished when he died and that has spent the last 25 years under seal in two libraries. The story is a fictional report of a safari Ernest and Mary Hemingway took in 1953-54. The 1999 edition has a forward by Ernest's son Patrick Hemingway. Click here to read a review of "True at First Light" written by George Cheatham of the Greensboro News & Record.

If you are in a Borders store in the next couple of weeks you might like to pick up a copy of Inside Borders, the company magazine. In the July issue is an interview with Ernest's son Patrick Hemingway. The Borders magazine is interesting, but, of course remember it is designed to make you want to buy books and you will not find substantive criticism of the books they are pushing.

An e-mail from Style Weekly book reviewer Mary Lloyd Parks reports on some of her recent reading:

"First of all, Michael Cottman's 'The Wreck of the Henrietta Marie' (Harmony Books, $23). This is an interesting story, but not a great book -- he jumps around so much, probably because this turned into a huge personal experience for him. He obviously did an amazing amount of research, and traveled to England, Africa and Jamaica, all relevant points in the triangle of the slave trade.

"He also spends lots of time in Key West with an impressive group of African-American scuba divers, visiting the wreck and establishing a monument at the underwater site of the wreck. But there are too many things he's trying to tell us about -- the slave trade, the discovery of the wreck, the personal significance of the wreck to the African-American divers who make establishing a monument at the site their cause.

"I admire his journey, and found the history fascinating (there is a lot of information in this book!), but it was not a `good read' because the telling was so fragmented.

"Cottner was at the Book and Author dinner here in Richmond this year and was a charming, genuine guy.

"On a July 4 trip I finished David Guterson's 'East of the Mountains,' (Harcourt Brace, $25) which I liked much better than 'Snow Falling on Cedars.'

"Now I'm reading 'The Samurai's Garden' (St Martin's Press, paper $12.95) by Gail Tsukiyama for a book club. I'll let you know how it is."

More of the Harry Potter saga

The New York Times reported that this story series is bringing boys back to reading. Girls, apparently, have always eagerly devoured series books, but the attention of boys has been more elusive. Today, however, they (and their fathers) are joining the girls and their mothers in following Harry Potter's adventures avidly. One good thing about the Potter series is that J.K. Rowling, the author, is writing the books quickly which keeps the same readers. A problem with recent series has been that the interval between volumes has tended to be so long that the author had to develop new readers for each one instead of keeping the same young people hooked. Look for the next Harry ("Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," Scholastic Trade, $19.95) in September.

In a publishing phenomenon, both Harry Potter books are on the New York Times Best Sellers list.

For a review of Harry Potter click here.

Reading -- recommended and otherwise

This week Style Weekly reviews two books that explore the complex relationship between law-breaking friends: John Sandford's "Certain Prey" and Robert Draper's "Hadrian's Walls." Click here to read the review.

"Before and After"

While I was on a vacation trip, a friend gave me Rosellen Brown's novel "Before and After." (Delta, paper, $11.95). This story of what happens to an apparently "normal" family when the 17-year-old son is accused of a merciless murder mesmerized me. I wasn't very good company until I finished the book, and then I couldn't forget the story.

This is not what we have come to call "a thriller." It is, rather, a dark journey through the minds of the 17-year-old Jacob's parents and younger sister. What tragedy does to the family is all too easy to imagine and difficult to forget. It is possible to pick holes in the details, but it is not possible to deny that Rosellen Brown has given us a graphic indication of what a mystery even those near to us can be.

A warning: If you have a teen-ager, stay as close as possible to him or her. But don't read this book.

For myself, I intend to get hold of Brown's other books. She is a gifted storyteller.

— Rozanne Epps

Some of Brown's books that are on my wish list to read:

"Civil Wars" (Dell, paper, $11.95)
"Some Deaths in the Delta" (out of print -- I'll try a library)
"Street Games" (Milkweed, paper, $9.95)
"The Autobiography of My Mother" (Delta, paper, $11.95)
"Cora Fry's Pillow Book" (Noonday Press, paper, $11)
"Tender Mercies" (Delta, paper, $19.95)
"A Rosellen Brown Reader" (Middlebury College, $19.95)



If you have read a book you liked or particularly disliked or if you have a book club you would like to tell us about e-mail us at rmail@richmond.infi.net and type BOOKS in the subject line.
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