08/19/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT
SHE'S AS HIGH-TECH AS THE REST of us, yet the two tools senior editor Kristin McMurran relies on most to do her job at PEOPLE are a good pair of reading glasses and a big, sturdy desk. That's because every week approximately 200 books and manuscripts arrive in her office, submitted for review, feature stories or excerpts. "Much of the material is not right for serialization," says McMurran, who manages to skim or read a dozen submissions a week and chooses the 8 to 10 manuscripts that we excerpt in the magazine each year. "I look for books that are newsy and revelatory, books that have an element of surprise." McMurran surprised herself—and our readers—with titles ranging from Andrew Morton's breakthrough biography of Princess Diana to Olympic diving champ Greg Louganis's moving memoir Breaking the Surface. This year she made a rare foray into fiction, purchasing first serial rights to new novels by Terry McMillan and John Grisham—both of which, after appearing in PEOPLE, promptly shot to No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list.
McMurran's pick this week comes from Tipper Gore, the wife of the Vice President. Her new book, picture this: A Visual Diary (see page 101), is a collection of lively and intimate photos she has taken since the 1992 presidential campaign. Before she saw the galleys, "I knew nothing about Mrs. Gore's talents," says McMurran, who soon discovered that she and Gore both began their careers as photographers: McMurran at the publisher Editions Flammarion in Paris, Gore on the Nashville Tennessean. "I was struck by the anecdotal quality of her work," says McMurran, "as well as the warm, candid shots of her family."
Excerpting probably amounts to half the job for McMurran, a Los Angeles native who now lives near New York City's Central Park with her husband, Bill Ewald, a former senior editor at TIME, and their 3½-year-old son, Jake. She also selects the books PEOPLE reviews and the authors we profile, as well as doing monthly on-air reviews for CNN. With all this experience, is McMurran ready to write a book of her own? "Never," she says. "There would have to be more than 24 hours in a day. I'd rather spend the time reading to my son."