The Book Browser
A sampling of the opening lines from books out this week
By Nicholson Baker
Grove Weidenfeld, $15.95
I was in the rocking chair giving our six-month-old Bug her late afternoon bottle. Patty was at work. I had pulled the windowshades down: sunlight turned their stiff fabric the luminous deep-fat-fried color of a glazed doughnut. Still visible from a year earlier was the faint outline in adhesive of one of the lengths of masking tape that we had Xed excitedly over the windowpanes before a hurricane that hadn’t panned out; below it, a metal tube of antifungal ointment lay on the sill, its wrinkled tail spiraled back like a scorpion’s, its Scotch-taped pharmaceutical torso of typed information so bathed in light now that I could make out only the normally pedestrian but now freshly exotic name of the prescribing pediatrician, ”Dr. Momtaz.”
Naked By the Window: The Fatal Marriage of Carl Andre and Ana Mendieta
By Robert Katz
Atlantic Monthly Press, $19.95
Somehow, we possess a knowledge of the city. We may never have seen it with our own eyes, but we know the stillness of downtown streets an hour before the day breaks. We know how the breeze comes around a corner, and we can imagine the harsh, lonely light of an all-night store. These are among the things we can feel in our bones. We know the place the night sky starts to pale, the sound of traffic lights changing, how the summer heat clings to our skin, and the simple truth that ghosts do not sleep.
It was into this darkness she fell.
Beyond The Stars
By David William Ross
Simon & Schuster, $19.95
Eastward a haze hung over the prairie like a sheath of silk; to the south puffs of clouds sat like tulip bulbs along the horizon. The searing heat of noon was rising behind the brisk winds of morning, and now there was only a faint sighing along the higher tufts of buffalo grass. To the north and northwest the land rolled endlessly, wearying the eye with its sameness. The only relief was a river flowing far to the west in mountains whose snow-trimmed peaks looked at this distance like arctic islands on the low rim of the sky.
The ancient war chief of the Pawnees, White Buffalo Horse, halted his small party on the open slope of the valley. Here they commanded their best view that day of the great spread of country beyond and the low-lying saffron bluffs that marked the way of the river.
Small Victories: The Real World of a Teacher, Her Students, & Their High School
By Samuel G. Freedman
Harper & Row, $22.95
Jessica Siegel sleeps in the bed of her childhood. It is a tidy single bed with a gleaming brass frame. A trunk rests at its foot and a vanity table sits beside the window. Outside the window, horse chestnut leaves rustle in the breeze from the river. An antique china cabinet stands against the wall opposite the window. Behind curved glass, its hardwood shelves brim with the fans and dolls that Jessica and her mother have bought at flea markets and church bazaars on their special days together.
Jessica wakes with a start. She has forgotten something; she has forgotten to write a term paper. But for what course? At what school? She is unsure exactly what she owes, and to whom.