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     Volume 5 Issue 110 | September 1, 2006 |

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Different Strokes

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Harriet Jacobs
Barnes & Noble Books; April 2005

In what has become a landmark of American history and literature, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl recounts the incredible but true story of Harriet Jacobs, born a slave in North Carolina in 1813. Her tale gains its importance from her descriptions, in great and painful detail, of the sexual exploitation that daily haunted her lifeand the life of every other black female slave. As a child, Harriet Jacobs remained blissfully unaware that she was a slave until the deaths of both her mother and a benevolent mistress exposed her to a sexually predatory master, Dr. Flint. Determined to escape, she spends seven years hidden away in a garret in her grandmother's house, three feet high at its tallest point, with almost no air or light, and with only glimpses of her children to sustain her courage. In the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, she finally wins her battle for freedom by escaping to the North in 1842. A powerful, unflinching portrayal of the brutality of slave life, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl stands alongside Frederick Douglass's classic autobiographies as one of the most significant slave narratives ever written.

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists
Neil Strauss
HarperCollins Publishers; September 2005

In dozens of cities around the world, men meet in underground "lairs" to discuss tactics and strategies for picking up women. Afterwards, they venture into the "field"-bars and clubs-and practice, questing after the Holy Grail: the perfect girl. Under a pseudonym, New York Times bestselling author Neil Strauss ventured into this bizarre subculture, travelling around the world and meeting the world's greatest seducers. There is Ross Jefferies, a master hypnotist on whom Tom Cruise's Magnolia character was based; Mystery, an illusionist who charms showgirls and celebrities; Rick H., a millionaire who turns straight-laced women into bisexual party girls; and Randall P., a spiritualist so powerful that women actually pay him to learn how to better pleasure him.
The Game chronicles Strauss's adventures (and misadventures) undercover in this clandestine world of men who refuse to let traditional rules of dating doom them to unfulfilled lives. Along the way, there are riveting, and often disturbing, profiles of the men who have dedicated their lives to the game-and disciples who will stop at nothing to learn from them. The Game is a journey into a world that most women fear and most men dream of.

The Glass Castle
Jeanette Walls
Simon & Schuster Trade; January 2006

Freelance writer Walls doesn't pull her punches. She opens her memoir by describing looking out the window of her taxi, wondering if she's "overdressed for the evening" and spotting her mother on the sidewalk, "rooting through a Dumpster." Walls's parents-just two of the unforgettable characters in this excellent, unusual book-were a matched pair of eccentrics, and raising four children didn't conventionalize either of them. Her father was a self-taught man, a would-be inventor who could stay longer at a poker table than at most jobs and had "a little bit of a drinking situation," as her mother put it. With a fantastic storytelling knack, Walls describes her artist mom's great gift for rationalizing. Apartment walls so thin they heard all their neighbors? What a bonus-they'd "pick up a little Spanish without even studying." Why feed their pets? They'd be helping them "by not allowing them to become dependent." While Walls's father's version of Christmas presents-walking each child into the Arizona desert at night and letting each one claim a star-was delightful, he wasn't so dear when he stole the kids' hard-earned savings to go on a bender. The Walls children learned to support themselves, eating out of trashcans at school or painting their skin so the holes in their pants didn't show. Buck-toothed Jeannette even tried making her own braces when she heard what orthodontia cost. One by one, each child escaped to New York City. Still, it wasn't long before their parents appeared on their doorsteps. "Why not?" Mom said. "Being homeless is an adventure."





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