Nora Jane Whittington dons a nun’s habit to hold up a seedy bar, gets knocked up after fornicating with two men within 72 hours, and, unfortunately for this book, chooses to spend her life with Bachelor No. 2: the boring, bad-sex guy. Because from there, this collection of interwoven stories (called simply Nora Jane) heads straight for dullsville. Ellen Gilchrist, a National Book Award winner for 1984’s Victory Over Japan, casts aside her intriguing protagonist for tales about Nora Jane’s hyper-intellectual friends and family (c’mon, what 10-year-old girl uses the word bourgeois?) and whatever else happens to be on the author’s mind. Those subjects include the merits of science versus prayer (both are equally powerful), a magical brown cape, and terrorists who have their sights set on. . .independent bookstore owners? Goodbye, Nora Jane, though I never knew you at all.