Book reviews the week of November 23, 1990 -- Graded reviews of recently published works, including ''Drugstore Cowboy'' and more

Book reviews the week of November 23, 1990

Drugstore Cowboy
James Fogle (Delta, paperback)
Drugstore Cowboy is the previously unpublished book upon which the movie of the same name was based. As grubby and unglamorous a view of druggies as you are likely to find in fiction or otherwise. James Fogle, who has spent 35 of his 53 years in prison, brings the focus up so close you want to avert your eyes. A

The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste Jane & Michael Stern
Malls, lawn ornaments, tattoos, shag rugs, mobile homes, leisure suits, fish sticks, tupperware, reclining chairs, Spam, bowling, baton twirling, telethons, poodles. Bad taste? Says who? C-

Literary Outtakes
Edited by Larry Dark (Fawcett Columbine, Paperback)
A motley assortment of first lines, titles, and entire chapters that never made it into print, from writers such as Oscar Hijuelos, Joyce Carol Oates, and Elmore Leonard. B+

The Best American Poetry 1990
Edited by Jorie Graham and David Lehman (Collier, paperback)
A mostly safe and unexciting collection-culled from magazines during the past year — of 75 poems by as many poets. A few gems, however. B

The New Yorker Book of Cat Cartoons
Sixty-five years’ worth of cat (and cat-owner) cartoons from some favorite artists: Charles Addams, Sam Gross, and William Steig, to name a few. A

Reading Black, Reading Feminist
Edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Meridian, paperback)
The depth and variety of these essays will surprise anyone who thinks the writing of African-American women can be summed up in the works of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison. A