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Paperback Picks of the week

Hot books for February 22, 2008 including ”Faulkner,” ”Picturing Will,” and more

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What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era Peggy Noonan
This quirky, graceful 1990 memoir of speechwriter Noonan’s two-plus years in the Reagan White House was written for readers, not for history. Noonan wants us to smell the paint, to have a cup of coffee in the White House mess, to understand the macho culture, to know what it’s like to be knee-deep in the eternal infighting. A-

The Quincunx Charles Palliser
Palliser’s 1989 attempt to re-create the pleasures of Dickens and other Victorian masters is impossible to put down. Bursting with thieves, gents, and ladies, and as intricately organized as an English garden, The Quincunx becomes a reader’s reason for getting up in the morning (and staying up late at night). A

Faulkner Joseph Blotner
Originally published in 1974, Blotner’s biography of the literary master is filled with Southern sounds and the fury of Faulkner and his rivals (Hemingway, Wolfe, Fitzgerald). This sprawling saga is the definitive Faulkner biography, and it also has real narrative pull. A

Picturing Will Ann Beattie
Will’s mother is an almost-famous photographer with a lover named Mel. Will’s father, Wayne, left the boy long ago. Beattie’s 1989 postmodern version of Henry James’ What Maisie Knew is thematically ambitious, and she makes ingenious use of the mother’s photography. But there’s something unwieldy here. Too many important thoughts are packed in, and things don’t quite come together. B

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down Ralph Abernathy
This civil rights leader’s autobiography made news in 1989 with its allegations about Martin Luther King Jr.’s relationships with women. But it’s less sensational than the media would have you believe. Abernathy’s account of King, while admiring, adds flesh and blood to the hero’s image. B

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