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LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
- May 25, 2009
- Vol. 71
- No. 20
Picks and Pans: Books
Expecting the Best
by Michael Malone |
REVIEWED BY LISA KAY GREISSINGER
Fans of Malone's 1986 picaresque bestseller Handling Sin have something to celebrate with The Four Corners of the Sky. Inspired by The Wizard of Oz, this madcap adventure does Baum's epic proud: There's a fantastic journey, a priceless treasure and mysterious strangers. After a peripatetic childhood with her con-artist single dad, Jack, Annie Peregrine is abruptly left with her aunt in North Carolina on her 7th birthday. By way of consolation, Jack gives her King of the Sky—a single-engine plane—along with the promise that he'll be back. Flash to 19 years later, when Annie, a Navy pilot trying to sort out the end of her marriage, is summoned by her ne'er-do-well dad: He's dying and wants her to fly the King to meet him. After he promises Annie the truth about the mother she never knew, she flies off to see him as a tornado rages, seeking answers about her past. A former soap opera writer, Malone understands the art of great storytelling: There's humor and action aplenty, but Four Corners is also a warmhearted look at how we love and forgive. Five hundred and forty-four pages never seemed so short.
by Gillian Flynn |
REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT
Flynn follows her deliciously creepy Sharp Objects with another dark tale—this time about Libby Day, a girl who, at age 7, survives a violent rampage that leaves her mother and sisters dead. Teen brother Ben is convicted, mostly on the basis of Libby's coached testimony. Decades later, paid $500 to appear before an oddball club whose members are obsessed with true crime, Libby meets people who believe Ben is innocent, the real killer still at large. Libby is the ultimate anti-heroine, self-pitying and unscrupulous. Her investigation of a past she thought she'd buried introduces a cast of equally unsavory suspects: bitter neighbors; Libby's drunken father; Ben's sleazy girlfriend. But the story, alternating between the 1985 murders and the present, has a tense momentum that works beautifully. And when the truth emerges, it's so macabre not even twisted little Libby Day could see it coming.
by Lisa R. Cohen |
REVIEWED BY CAROLINE LEAVITT
On May 25, 1979, 6-year-old Etan Patz vanished while walking to his school-bus stop in Manhattan. He was never found. In this gripping account of the case, Cohen reveals the 30-year battle waged by prosecutors and Etan's parents, Stan and Julie, to bring charges against suspect Jose Ramos, a convicted child molester. Though never criminally charged, Ramos—to whom Stan still sends photos of Etan inscribed "What did you do to my little boy?"—was found legally responsible in an '04 civil trial. A chilling fact: He could get parole in 2012.
by Christopher Buckley |
REVIEWED BY MARY HART
For 40-plus years, William F. Buckley and wife Pat were a prominent Manhattan couple—he, the acerbic founder of National Review; she, the society hostess. What was it like to be their son? "They were loving," writes Buckley in this amusing, unsparing memoir, "but on their own terms." (His dad's reaction to one of Chris's books: "This one didn't work for me. Sorry.") Chris's affection is clear, yet it's the parental transgressions that loom largest. As Pat lay dying, her only child whispered what would be his last words to her: "I forgive you."
>WHAT THEY'RE READING
ADRIEN BRODY "I'm reading some things that I don't want to tell the world! But I just read The Old Man and the Sea. It's beautiful, poetic. I'm a fan of Hemingway."
CHARLIZE THERON "I really liked Mutant Message Down Under [by Marlo Morgan]. It had that Alchemist message I really loved."
ANIKA NONI ROSE "The Known World by Edward P. Jones. The way he gets into the minds of these black men [in the 1800s]—you'd think he lived it."
>• Pop star and mom Thalía is out with a guide to having a "fit and fabulous" pregnancy. Tricks that got her through:
GUILT-FREE DRINKS A nonalcoholic wine I love is Gewüztraminer 2006, from Navarro Vineyards. I always have friends over for parties, and I don't feel out of the game.
WARDING OFF "THE PUKES" For three months I felt seasick. Ginger was such a miracle. I drank it as a tea with honey.
DISTRACTION JEWELRY Your face may get bloated like a big fish! Draw attention to chandelier earrings and less to the bloatedness.
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