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July 25, 2003

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A Winning Collection

Sanyat Sattar

Ten Little Indians
Sherman Alexie
Grove Press; June 2003

Ten Little Indians offers eleven poignant and emotionally resonant new stories about Native Americans. In "The Life and Times of Estelle Walks Above," an Indian woman saves the lives of dozens of white women all around her, to the bewilderment of her only child, now a grown man who looks back at his life with fondness, amusement, and regret. In another story, "Do You Know Where I Am?" two college sweethearts rescue a lost cat.
Sherman Alexie's stories are driven by a haunting lyricism and naked candor that cut to the heart of the human experience, shedding brilliant light on what happens when we grow into and out of each other.

The Whore's Child
Richard Russo
Vintage Books; March, 2003

In The Whore's Child, Richard Russo's first collection of short fiction, the 2002 Pulitzer Prize-wining author of Empire Falls explores difficult emotional territory while retaining the assured wisdom and humour of his best work. Infidelity, self-reflection, and the fallibility of memory come into consideration in this entertaining and perceptive collection.
Russo's sterling reputation is largely due to his astounding ability to present the tangled emotions of troubled parent-child and marital relationships with comic verve, bracing clarity and dramatic tension fused with an undercurrent of pathos. These predicaments are well represented in the seven stories of his first collection, whose protagonists betray themselves and others in different social milieus. Russo's rueful understanding of the twisted skein of human relationships is as sharp as ever, and the dialogue throughout is barbed, pointed and wryly humorous. The collection is a winner.

The Arcades Project
Walter Benjamin
Belknap Press; March 2002

The Arcades Project, which Benjamin worked on for 13 years before his death, was an attempt to capture the reality that he believed underlay the political, economic, and technological world of the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the phenomenon of the Paris arcades, Benjamin saw a turning away from a communal society based on mutual concern to one based on material well-being and economic gain. To fortify his argument, Benjamin used quotations from a variety of published literary, philosophical, and artistic sources and added his own reflections and commentary.




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