CLAPTON
by Eric Clapton |

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REVIEWED BY MICHELLE GREEN

CRITIC'S CHOICE

MEMOIR

Like the bluesmen who inspired him, Clapton, 62, has his share of scars. Raised in a "house full of secrets," he learned by age 9 that his birth mother was the woman he knew as his sister. In his hard-drinking years, he notoriously won—and lost—George Harrison's wife Pattie Boyd, who inspired "Layla" (and whose own memoir is now on bestseller lists). And in 1991 he buried his son Conor, 4, who had fallen from a window in a high-rise. In this compelling memoir Clapton discusses it all. Brandy and heroin were his poisons; at his worst, "I didn't commit suicide," he writes, only because "I wouldn't be able to drink anymore if I was dead." After twenty years in recovery, he's matured but he's hardly a bore: He offers vivid scenes of clashes with Ginger Baker and club-hopping with Hendrix. It's a soulful performance—one that even casual fans will find absorbing.

by Alice Sebold |

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REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT

NOVEL

"Killing my mother came easily," says Helen Knightly, the well-meaning, utterly damaged narrator of Sebold's second novel. Helen justifiably hates her spiteful mother, but, since her father's suicide, feels obligated to be a part of her life. But after an incident in which the increasingly feeble 88-year-old soils herself (again), Helen snaps and suffocates her with towels. Readers are supposed to root for Helen, but she's tough to like, and she compounds her crime by ensnaring others in the cover-up. Though disappointingly flawed, under Sebold's crafty guidance, Moon is still compulsively readable.

In childhood, writes Clapton (at age 4), "music became a healer for me ... I learned to listen with all my being."

His classic "Wonderful Tonight" was "actually written in anger and frustration" one evening when girlfriend Pattie Boyd (with him in the '70s) was late getting ready.

"However deeply I loved this little boy," Clapton writes of son Conor (who died at 4 a year after this photo was taken), "I was a baby trying to look after a baby."

"The last 10 years have been the best of my life," writes Clapton (with wife Melia McEnery, mother of his two young daughters).

>• Tired of begging her kids (Sascha, 6, Julian, 4, and Shepherd, 2) to eat veggies, Jessica Seinfeld—Jerry's wife—started sneaking the healthy stuff into their favorite foods. In a new cookbook she shares the subterfuge.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU? I was making butternut squash puree for my baby and mac 'n' cheese from a box for my other kids. I realized the colors matched exactly. So I added the squash to the mac 'n' cheese and they didn't notice. I was so excited! I thought, "What else can I hide?" It became an obsession.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU HIDE? Sweet potato in pancakes, pureed tomato in taco meat, spinach in brownies ... I've met kids who say they hate spinach—"Eww, it's so gross!" I'll give them a brownie and tell them, "That was FULL of spinach." They don't know what to say.

DO YOU AND JERRY EAT WHAT YOUR KIDS EAT? I'm not making two meals a night!

JERRY SEINFELD'S EATING CHICKEN NUGGETS? Yes. I might put a little red sauce on it and some mozzarella cheese.

DO YOU TRICK HIM TOO? I don't have to. Jerry's a good eater. Imagine if your husband was a bad eater? That would be my worst nightmare. But he won't eat asparagus.

SO IF YOU SNUCK IN SOME ASPARAGUS? He would love it. He thinks this whole thing is so much fun. He would say, "I stand corrected."

FRENCH TOAST TRICKS

• Add puree of banana, pineapple, sweet potato, carrot or squash to your eggs and milk before soaking the bread.

• Some children are suspicious of "specks" in whole-grain bread ... a dusting of sugar serves nicely as camouflage!

The Lovely Bones, her first novel, spent 78 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. A movie version, starring Rachel Weisz, Ryan Gosling, Susan Sarandon and Irish newcomer Saoirse Ronan (as teen murder victim Susie Salmon), begins filming this fall.