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Weekly Alibi Speed Reader

By Blake de pastino, Jessica English, Tracey L. Cooley and Julie Birnbaum

SEPTEMBER 22, 1997: 

Sex & Sunsets
by Tim Sandlin (Riverhead, paper, $12)

This Tim Sandlin fellow has gotten so hot--and so late in the game--that they're just now resurrecting his debut novel from out-of-print oblivion. And I must say, I'm kicking myself for not having paid attention the first time it came out. Sex & Sunsets is a Western, post-modern romance, the story of a schlemiel named Kelly ("the best dishwasher in Teton County") who falls in love with the beautiful, vaguely butchy Colette on her wedding day. The stunts Kelly pulls to get his woman are laugh-out-loud funny, but I don't think I'm overstating things when I say that there's also a deeper existential crisis at bay here. Sandlin's vision is both earthy and absurd, and his style is some kind of hybrid between Sam Shepard and Tom Robbins. Just don't be surprised if you find yourself reading it twice. (BdeP)



Suffragettes to She-Devils
by Liz McQuiston (Phaidon/Chronicle, cloth, $59.95)

Suffragettes to She-Devils just screams for your attention. Hot pink and fluorescent yellow, adorned in fat, loud-mouthed type, this oversized book is a visual history of propaganda throughout the women's movement. Color reproductions of designs spanning the 20th century adorn every page: "Votes for Women" rally fliers; crude anti-suffrage campaigns; well-known WWII propaganda; the nearly militant manifesto and graphic expression of the U.S. art activist group SisterSerpents; safe-sex and birth control campaigns; the abortion debate; hot and bawdy sexual equality designs; Dyke Action Machine! (DAM!) fanfare; domestic violence and rape prevention; AIDS education for women. But Suffragettes to She-Devils is much more than a history of women's lib; it's a study of how design has effectively changed our ideas about sex and the sexes, both politically and personally, from the beginning of the century to the Information Age. (JE)



Living on the Spine
by Christina Nealson (Papier-Maché Press, paper, $12.95)

Some nature writers have the ability to relate their experiences and make them seem extraordinary, while other writers transform nature into bland trivialities. Such is the case with Christina Nealson, who believes her viewpoint is superior to others. Her Celtic heritage influences her view of the world and the change of seasons, which provides the only interesting aspect of this book. Nealson lived in the Sangre de Cristos for four years, and in that time, seems to have lost touch with reality. Her experiences, which were undoubtedly beautiful, are highly personal and are written without regard to her audience. She gives way too many details about her menstrual cycle and experiences with men while not giving enough details about her secluded way of life. Nealson would be much better off living it instead of writing about it. (TLC)



The Far Euphrates
by Aryeh Lev Stollman (Riverhead, cloth, $21.95)

In his debut novel, Stollman has created a work of stunning eloquence and depth, a tale of a young boy's coming to terms with the ghosts of the Holocaust which continue to affect his family. The son of a rabbi, narrator Aryeh Alexander's lonely world is infused with the neuroses of the adults who surround him: an unhappy mother, a scholarly, burdened father, the cantor and his twin sister, both victims of Auschwitz. His struggle with the realization of the past and the understanding of his true "home" within himself leads to an unexpected form of religious redemption. The novel touches upon the power of words and the power of spirit, and how the two are tied together. All of these themes are wrought in elegant, haunting prose. Jamaica Kincaid has written that "we have met a great writer" in Stollman; I wholeheartedly agree. (JB)

--Blake de Pastino, Jessica English, Tracy L. Cooley and Julie Birnbaum


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