Paperback Picks -- The latest books from Terry McMillan, Lawrence Grobel, and Steve Erickson

Tours of the Black Clock
Steve Erickson
A winding, mind-bending trip through time, Tours is the story of a man who seeks to explain what he believes were Adolf Hitler’s true intentions. Erickson (Days Between Stations, Rubicon Beach) is a daring, Pynchonesque modern master with a bizarre and haunting imagination. A

Disappearing Acts
Terry McMillan
McMillan (Mama) has concocted a tough and sassy modern love story with a pair of sweethearts who strut through these pages to an irresistible beat. She doesn’t smooth the rough edges off big-city love, and she brings her characters’ desire and sadness alive. McMillan is the most consistently appealing black writer to appear since Alice Walker and Gloria Naylor. A

The Hustons
Lawrence Grobel
Grobel’s study of the Hollywood Hustons (John, Anjelica, Danny) and their Irish forebears relies too often on tabloid epiphanies and owes most of its appeal to the charm of the family itself. The author’s workmanlike approach is no match for the richness of the Hustons’ style, but the family is so fascinating you read on anyway. B-

Animal Factories
Jim Mason and Peter Singer
Mason and Singer storm the American food production system (including the usually sacrosanct family farm) to reveal the horrifying torture of animals and the attendant waste and risk. An eye-opening perspective on our nation’s agriculture. A