The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 7, 1997 · Page 148
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 148

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 7, 1997
Page 148
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8J THE PALM BEACH POST SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1997 Kincaid memoir a journey between lives 1 nYR'fFl 1&0 & they are actively dying Devon's friends make one obligatory visit each, standing nervously in the doorway of his room he begins to thrive. Soon he returns to his mother's home, and when he regains strength ; he reverts to old habits: drinking, drugs, unprotected sex with prostitutes. Kincaid thinks Devon's behavior u . - 1 MY BROTHER, by Jamaica Kincaid. Farrar Straus & Giroux; 176 pages; $21. is typical of the carelessness he has exhibited all of his brief life. This is a spare book, despite Kin caid's characteristic elegance of diction IIIIICI I C I I I helpless and need her . . . it is when her children are trying to be grown-up people . . . that her mechanism for loving them falls apart." She adds with a leavening mockery, "All the same, her love, if we are dying, or if we are in jail, is so wonderful . . ." Kincaid recalls being told to babysit her brother one day when she was 15 and he was 2. She spent the day reading. When her mother returned to find Devon in a diaper that had been soiled for many hours, she took every one of her daughter's books, placed them on the stone heap in the yard where laundry was customarily washed, doused them with kerosene and set them afire. And what of Devon? He grows stronger almost immediately when his sister has a doctor in the States send AZT and medicines to treat his pneumonia and thrush infection. After a week, when she is ready to return home to her husband and children in Vermont, Kincaid learns that Devon has gained back a pound of the weight he had lost. Even in the dirty room in the hospital isolation ward, even enduring the indefinable isolation of those who know By Betsy Willeford Special To The Palm Beach Post Either you appreciate Jamaica Kin-caid's anger or you don't read her books. They're all part of one book, really. Four of her first five are fictional autobiographies; the fifth, A Small Place, is a tirade against colonialism and its stepson, tourism. My Brother is pure memoir, a honed description of the death last year of her Rasta brother, Devon, of AIDS, in his mother's home on Antigua. Familiar themes appear the vulnerable realm that children and the poor inhabit; the tragic view of life accepted in small places. And there are the unbanked fires of rage against her mother that have fueled so much of Kincaid's writing. Kincaid was 13 when Devon was born. Her other brothers were 4 and 2. When he died at 33, Devon was not speaking to his mother. Neither was the middle brother. Two of the brothers were not speaking to each other. Visiting her brother for the first time after she learns of his condition, Kincaid learns that the drug AZT is not and her lync, unsentimental prose. More than a memoir, My Brother is a story of a journey, as Kincaid moves back and forth from her private life of modest comfort, of teaching and writ 'My Glass House' depicts Cameron's way with a camera Annals of My Glass House (University of Washington Press, $19.95), is a lovely companion piece to an exhibition of photographs at the Santa Barbara Museum by the great Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. I've been a fan of Cameron's since I laid eyes on her portrait of Thomas Carlyle, leonine head jutting forward, the image slightly blurred as if he was lunging for a piece of meat. Cameron was born into wealth and was the available on the island. "It is felt in general, so I am told, that since there is no cure for AIDS it is useless to spend money on a medicine that will only slow the progress of the disease." Her mother has always been depicted as at least a Category 3 hurricane in terms of the power to destroy. Here, Kincaid makes a distinction, describing an event, that amplifies her reason for fury. Her mother, she writes, "loves and understand us when we are weak and ing in Vermont, to the cruel and oppressive island where she grew up. It's another chapter in Kincaid's quest to come to terms with the way politics and history those two generalities shape human assumptions in the most specific and idiosyncratic manner. B Betsy Willeford writes in South wife of a respected judge, but, once her children were raised, she launched herself into photography, which she immediately claimed as an art. She had one foot in reality her portraits are amazing and one foot in pre-Raphaelite whimsy, as in her photographs that attempt to mimic classical themes, the parting of Lancelot and Guinevere, etc. The book reproduces 15 Cameron photographs, features Scott Eyman an essay by Violet Hamilton and much use of Cameron's own writings, with which I was unfamiliar. 'The Far Side' . . . On a less refined note, Gary Larson, who used to draw the very funny comic panel until he got bored and retired in 1995, will be bringing out There's a Hair in My Dirt. Larson also has an animated tar siae ieature coming out. He does great cows. I HarperCollins will bring out the book in the ; spring. i I I kiss mv toot, vou manaciea foo . . . 7 VC- Who says fringe publishing is dead? Greenery Press, based in San Francisco, has found a niche and is filling it. The niche is sex, and filling it consists of books with titles like The Compleat Spanker and The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities. Greenery's biggest seller is The Sexually Dominant Woman, which has rung up sales of 15,000 copies. I That's a lot of spankings. Rapid appreciation . . . Hold on to those first editions of Cold Mountain, this year's fluke literary bestseller and, much to Don DeLillo's dismay, winner of the National Book Award for fiction. - The first printing was a decent but not spectacular 25,000, and copies are already starting to show up in rare book catalogs with a $50 price tag; signed first editions are going for $85. Not bad for a book that was published less than a year ago. Author Alert! ... : At the Borders at 9887 Glades Road in Boca lip.-' "J J '- - i S iti Illustration by ROB BARGEStaff Artist Rachel Carson's early passion for biology inspired her to write bestselling books about the environment, including the classic 'Silent Spring. ' Raton, Beatrice Muchman will be speaking and signing her new book, Never to Be Forgotten: A Young Girl's Holocaust Memoir, today at 7 p.m. At the same store on Sunday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m., Douglas Looney will be speaking and signing his new book, All for the Love of a Child And at Clematis Street Books on Saturday at 7 'p.m., Gunilla von Post will be speaking about and "signing Love, Jack, her memoir of her relationship with John F. Kennedy. Quote Unquote .. . "Translation is like making love through a blanket." Amos Oz Bestsellers New York Times News Service HARDCOVER Fiction -1 COLO MOUNTAIN, by Charles Frazier. (Atlantic Monthly, $24.) 2 THE GHOST, by Danielle Steel. (Delacorte, $25.95.) 3 CAT 4 MOUSE, by James Patterson. (Little, Brown, $24.95.) 4 ANOTHER CITY, NOT MY OWN, by Dommick Dunne. (Crown, .$25.) a S THE LETTER, by Richard Paul Evans. (Simon & Schuster, $15.95.) pamphlets and documents about the service's programs, wildlife refuges and research programs. Significantly, these years brought her into contact with scientists throughout the country and kept her up-to-date on the latest in the natural sciences. In the late 1940s, she achieved instant fame with The Sea Around Us, a natural history of the sea that topped the bestseller lists and won the National Book Award. It is still in print. Silent Spring was another book entirely. Carson took on the pesticide industry in an intensively researched, impassioned attack that shocked a society that had strayed far from nature. The book roused the Kennedy administration and led to congressional hearings, chaired by Sen. Abraham A. Ribicoff. This is a sympathetic biography, nicely paced, and one that does not attempt to assess Carson's place in history. Perhaps that isn't necessary. When Silent Spring was published, its impact was likened to that of Uncle Tom's Cabin. It was a comparison that does not seem overblown today, even with the benefit of 35 years' her adult life as head-of-household for a family that included her mother, her niece and her grand-nephew, Roger. At times they placed enormous demands on her time and finances, and she wrote when she could. Only to a few intimates did she complain. And there was the cancer, which threatened to take her before Silent Spring could be finished. While we know the outcome, Lear's narrative has us anxiously turning the pages, hoping Carson will live long enough to get the book to the publisher. Carson grew up just this side of poverty, with a doting mother who often took her for nature walks in the fields and woods just outside Pittsburgh. She studied hard and won a scholarship to Pennsylvania College for Women, where she excelled. She was determined to be a writer but fell in love with biology under the influence of Mary Scott Skinker, one of those teachers whose love of a subject is contagious. It was not until leaving college that Carson realized she could do both. For 16 years Carson worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, most of that time writing By Steve Grant The Hartford Courant RACHEL CARSON: Witness for Nature, by Linda Lear. Holt; 483 pages; $35. Rachel Carson died in 1964, only two years after finishing Silent Spring, the book she is best remembered for today. In fact, she was suffering from cancer as she wrote and struggled to finish the book between treatments, striving to keep her disease private. She died a celebrity, the woman whose book helped launch the environmental reformation that continues to this day, if without some of its former zeal. But Carson was a public figure of whom we knew little; by today's celebrity standards, she was anonymous. Linda Lear, a professor of environmental history at George Washington University, introduces us to a serious, hard-working woman who wasn't so hard-working or serious that she couldn't have a wide circle of friends, some of them quite devoted. It is a life, we discover, with much more drama than we ever knew. While she never married, she served through , 6 VIOLIN, by Anne Rice. (Knopf. $25.95.) 7 SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, by Jonathan Kellerman. (Bantam, '$24.95.) 8 LUCKY YOU, by Carl Hiaasen. (Knopf, $24.) 9 COME THE SPRING, by Julie Garwood. (Pocket, $24.) 10 THE MATARESE COUNTDOWN, by Robert Ludlum. (Bantam, $27.50.) Non-fiction 1 MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL, by John Berendt. (Random House, $23.) 2 ANGELA'S ASHES, by Frank McCourt. (Scnbner, $24.) 3 THE DARK SIDE OF CAMELOT, by Seymour M. Hersh. (Little, Brown, $26 95.) 4 CITIZEN SOLDIERS, by Stephen E. Ambrose. (Simon 4 Schuster, $27.50.) 5 INTO THIN AIR, by Jon Krakauer. (Villard, $24.95.) 6 THE PERFECT STORM, by Sebastian Junger. (Norton, $23.95.) 7 THE MAN WHO LISTENS TO HORSES, by Monty Roberts. (Random House. $23.) , g DIANA: Her True Story In Her Own Words, by Andrew Morton. (Simon 4 Schuste. $22.95.) 9 THE MILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR, by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko. (Longstreet. $22.) '. 10 DIRTY JOKES AND BEER, by Drew Carey. (Hyperion, $22.95.) PAPERBACK Fiction 1 WIZARD AND GLASS, by Stephen King. (Plume, $17.95.) Tnu ri swrv e pnwPD PIAY& POLITIKA. created bv Tom Chef's new caper OK, but an ingredient is missing mm GONE BAMBOO, by Anthony Bourdain. Random House; 286 pages; $23. By Frank Cerabino Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Anthony Bourdain, the executive chef at Sullivan's, a Manhattan restaurant next to the Ed Sullivan theater, manages to find time between preparing Tuscan-styled roasted red snapper to write novels. His first novel, Bone in the Throat, published four years ago, resulted from a former college roommate offering the chef a free 10-day Mexican vacation in exchange for a promise to write a novel when he returned. The book turned out to be an offbeat tale of a sows-chef in a Little Italy seafood restaurant who is caught between his mobbed-up relatives, over-zealous feds, and culinary charlatans who think fried calamari (which the chef refers to as foreskins in afterbirth) is the epitome of appetizers. TBourdain's blend of comedy and Their plans are complicated when Henry, the assassin, and Wicks, the botched target, end up as neighbors on the same Caribbean island. Henry figures his only hope is to befriend the mobster he once tried to kill. Meanwhile, Calabrese, who learns of both men's whereabouts, wants them both whacked. Gone Bamboo is entertaining, but by taking the book out of the restaurant world, Bourdain has lost a big part of his game. Bourdain's current novel-in-pro-gress is set back in the New York restaurant business, in a plot that revolves around a feud between two chefs. Sounds delicious. It's nice that Bourdain has decided to dust the sand off his toes and find his way back to the literary kitchen, where he really knows how to cook up something special. labrese, a cross-dressing 200-plus-pound killer. But this time, Bourdain has taken his characters on the road, moving the story out of the New York restaurant scene and onto a Caribbean island. The main characters, Henry Den-ard and his gritty wife, Frances, have "gone bamboo," keeping a low profile in the tropics after Henry, a CIA-trained assassin, made a slight miscalculation while freelancing a piece of work for Calabrese. The result was that Henry's target, mob boss Donnie Wicks, ended up with a colostomy bag instead of a funeral. Henry and Frances figure it's best to lay low in the Caribbean, rather than face the wrath of Calabrese. And Wicks, the wounded mobster, decides it is best to go in the federal witness protection program and rat out Calabrese. ( Clancy and Martin Greenberg. (Berkley, $7.5Q.) 3 UNFINISHED SYMPHONY, by V.C. Andrews. (Pocket, $7.50.) 4 TOTAL CONTROL, by David Baldacci. (Warner Vision, $7.50.) 5 SOLE SURVIVOR, by Dean Koontz. (Ballantine, $7.99.) 6 SAY YOU LOVE ME, by Johanna Undsey. (Avon, $6.99.) 7 A VIRTUOUS WOMAN, by Kaye Gibbons. (Vintage, $10.) 8 ELLEN FOSTER, by Kaye Gibbons. (Vintage, $10.) 9 AIRFRAME, by Michael Crichton. (Ballantine, $7.99.) 10 THE LIST, by Steve Martini. (Jove, $7.50.) Non-fiction 1 UNDAUNTED COURAGE, by Stephen E. Ambrose. (Touchsto-neS&S, $16.) 2 UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN, by Frances Mayes. (Broadway, $ 1 3.) 3 UNDERBOSS. by Peter Maas. (Harper Paperbacks, $6.99.) 4 THE COLOR OF WATER, by James McBnde. (Riverhead, $12.) 5 A CIVIL ACTION, by Jonathan Harr. (Vintage, $13.) 6 HANSON, by Jill Matthews. (ArchwayPocket, $3.99.) 7 GIRLFRIENDS, by Carmen Renee Berry and Tamara Traeder. (Wildcat Canyon. $12.95.) 8 INTO THE WILD, by Jon Krakauer. (AnchorDoubleday. $ 1 2,95.) 9 SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET, by Hemrich Harrer. (TarcherPutnam, cooking, and his loving ear for lower East Side mob-speak helped make the book a success, complete with movie option rights and a chance to write again. Gone Bamboo is also heavily peppered with a zany cast of New York (, mobsters, including Jimmy "Pazz" Ca- $13.95.) 10 REVIVING OPHELIA, by Mary Pipher. (Ballantine, $12.50.) ' - i Denotes first time on list

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