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Shelf Life

SOLVE, MEMORY

Turn of Mind, Alice LaPlante; Grove/Atlantic, $24.

Here's a new kind of unreliable narrator: someone trying to investigate clues hidden in her own mind. Dr. Jennifer White is a retired orthopedic surgeon with dementia—which means she understands only intermittently that she is the prime suspect in a murder. (Her longtime friend is dead and the body had an expertly dismembered hand.) LaPlante, a 1990-92 Stegner fellow, has a sure grasp on both her protagonist's shifting, diminished point of view and on this mystery's compelling momentum.

 
next convergence

The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World, Michael Spence; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27.

The Industrial Revolution set off a period of fantastic economic growth for a small minority of the world's population. What the author calls the Inclusiveness Revolution—accelerating growth in the developing world affecting millions—seems likely to be as game-changing in human history. Spence, a Nobel laureate in economics and an NYU professor, is a former dean of the Business School and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

chinese dream

The Chinese Dream: The Rise of the World's Largest Middle Class and What It Means to You, Helen H. Wang, MA '96; Bestseller Press, $16.97.

Wang, now a business consultant, remembers being baffled at hearing that American protesters would throw eggs at a president—something unthinkable in her native China both because it was seditious and because eggs were too dear to waste. Such observations underpin this rangy examination of China's middle class—already as large as the United States at 300,000,000 and poised to double in 15 years.

orientation

Orientation and Other Stories, Daniel Orozco, '79; Faber and Faber, $23.

This cagey fiction debut describes people's jobs in ways that cast both their actuality and their surreality in surprising light. A new hire gets an office tour that helpfully identifies which cubicle dweller has stigmata. Two police officers write detailed Scene Reports that reveal their tryst but obscure a bloodbath. An office temp endures. Former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza doesn't. Orozco, a 1997-99 Stegner fellow, teaches at the University of Idaho.

pun also rises

The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics, John Pollack, '88; Gotham Books, $22.50.

The author was 2 when one of his earliest sentences was also his earliest pun. Told to put on his shoes, he said, "Bears go barefoot." Pollack, a journalist who won a 1995 pun-off championship, provides a history and taxonomy of puns and praises wordplay's role in human endeavor.

mothers and daughters

Mothers and Daughters, Rae Meadows, '92; Henry Holt, $25.

Three generations of women are lovingly portrayed in Meadows's third work of fiction. Violet, in 1900, is 11 and being sent away from a New York slum on the Orphan Train. Her daughter, Iris, in 1999, is dying of breast cancer. Iris's daughter, Samantha, eight months a mother in mid-2000, is flummoxed at the thought of returning to work.

good stuff

‘Where others saw Cary Grant . . . I saw Dad. However, to some extent every little girl sees Daddy as Cary Grant.’

—Jennifer Grant, ’87, in Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant, Portfolio/Penguin, $26.95.

 

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