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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities`& Sciences


 Comic Novels

Good Faith by Jane Smiley (Knopf) Jane Smiley brings her extraordinary gifts—comic timing, empathy, emotional wisdom, an ability to deliver slyly on big themes and capture the American spirit—to the seductive, wishful, wistful world of real estate, in which the sport of choice is the mind game. Her funny and moving new novel is about what happens when the American Dream morphs into a seven-figure American Fantasy.
Joe Stratford is someone you like at once. He makes an honest living helping nice people buy and sell nice houses. His not-very-amicable divorce is finally settled, and he’s ready to begin again. It’s 1982. He is pretty happy, pretty satisfied. But a different era has dawned; Joe’s new friend, Marcus Burns from
New York , seems to be suggesting that the old rules are ready to be repealed, that now is the time you can get rich quick. Really rich. And Marcus not only knows that everyone is going to get rich, he knows how. Because Marcus just quit a job with the IRS.
But is Joe ready for the kind of success Marcus promises he can deliver? And what’s the real scoop on Salt Key Farm? Is this really the development opportunity of a lifetime?
And then there’s Felicity Ornquist, the lovely, feisty, winning (and married) daughter of Joe’s mentor and business partner. She has finally owned up to her feelings for Joe: she’s just been waiting for him to be available.
The question Joe asks himself, over and over, is, Does he have the gumption? Does he have the smarts and the imagination and the staying power to pay attention—to Marcus and to Felicity—and reap the rewards?

Good Faith captures the seductions and illusions that can seize
America during our periodic golden ages (every Main Street an El Dorado ). To follow Joe as he does deals and is dealt with in this newly liberated world of anything goes is a roller-coaster ride through the fun park of the 1980s. It is Jane Smiley in top form.

Kill Two Birds & Get Stoned by Kinky Friedman 006620979X (William Morrow) Walter Snow is doomed. He stares at the blank pages in his typewriter for longer than he cares to admit, hoping for the spark that will finally fulfill his ambition to write The Great Armenian Novel.

And then he meets Clyde Potts. She is beautiful, intelligent, charming, perhaps psychic and, very possibly unbalanced. With Potts, Snow is caught up in a series of pranks against corporate sprawl that they execute with a bit of booze, and some wacky tobaccy from Australia known as Malabimbi Madness.

Things spin out of control and Walter is left to wonder if the only things you ever keep in this life are the things you let slip through your fingers.

A tale on the nature of sanity, the cost of inspiration, and the art and business of creativity, Kill Two Birds & Get Stoned has the absurd and provocative hijinks that could have only come from the fertile and frenzied mind Kinky Friedman, the author of 16 mysteries and a columnist for Texas Monthly.

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