Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

What's New in Paperback

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

What's New in Paperback

Article excerpt


by E.L. DoctorowSignet, $6.99, 349 pp.

E.L. Doctorow slyly hides an acerbic caricature of contemporary greed and corruption in this murder mystery set in the era of the infamous Tweed Ring. A cantankerous news editor narrates a morbidly fascinating tale of an amoral physician and a venal industrialist who displays "a pattern of loyalty not to any one business, but to the art of buying and selling them." The mystery story enables Doctorow to present a commentary without seeming didactic; the commentary gives the fantastic mystery a depth it might otherwise lack.

***** "COMMITTING JOURNALISM: THE PRISON WRITINGS OF RED HOG," by Dannie M. Martin and Peter Y. Sussman Norton, $13, 341 pp.

In 1986, Peter Sussman, the editor of the Sunday Punch section of the San Francisco Chronicle, received a surprisingly well-written article from an inmate about AIDS in prison. He published the piece, initiating a curious literary friendship with Dannie "Red Hog" Martin. The more than 20 years he had spent behind bars enabled Martin to write knowledgeably about the strange society that exists within prison walls. tgamr Sussman's provocative narrative traces Martin's efforts to achieve genuine rehabilitation in the face of bureaucratic pettifogging.

***** "THE HOUSE SPIRIT AND OTHER STORIES," by Kanoka Kamoto, translated from the Japanese by Kazuko SugisakiCapra Press, $10.95, 156 pp., paperback original

One of the most prominent women writers in prewar Japan, Kanoka Kamoto depicted the conflict between Japanese tradition and the rapidly changing mores of the period between the wars. In "House Spirit," a once prominent craftsman is reduced to begging for his meals; the title character in "The Old Geisha" is fascinated by an unfocused young inventor who fails to appreciate her traditional graces. …

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