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Books for Grownups October 2009

What Our Generation Wants to Read!

AARP The Magazine and Publishers Weekly have teamed up to let you know about the latest fiction, nonfiction, and lifestyle/self-help of interest to you. Once you've checked out the selections below, visit Publishers Weekly's fiction and nonfiction pages for reviews, author Q&As, and more.

FICTION

Rhino Ranch

By Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster, $26)

McMurtry wraps up his Duane Moore saga, which kicked off in 1966 withThe Last Picture Show. Duane's curtain call finds him working with his old buddies on a rhino preservation ranch. Mixed in with the humor and snappy dialogue are tender and poignant scenes as the women in Duane’s life die or drift away, and Duane evaluates his life.

Hemingway Deadlights

By Michael Atkinson (Minotaur/Dunne, $24.95)

Boomers who are Hemingway fans—and who among us isn't?—will embrace this mystery debut, set in 1956. It imagines Papa on a quest to solve the murder of a fisherman friend in Key West. The hunt takes him to Batista's Cuba, where—you saw this coming, right?—he meets a young revolutionary named Fidel.

Inherent Vice

By Thomas Pynchon (Penguin Press, $27.95)

A drugged-out private eye stars in Pynchon's latest, a neo-surf noir set in southern California in the early 1970s. Wild. Funny. Atmospheric. (And knowledgeable boomers may sustain a contact high.)

The Shortest Distance Between Two Women

By Kris Radish (Bantam, paperback, $15)

A trademark Radish estrogen fest, this is a tale of four middle-aged sisters at their yearly get-together with their mother. Radish displays an intimate understanding of boisterous families. She's also a veteran at portraying female relationships, and her affection for her characters shines through.

The Anthologist

By Nicholson Baker (Simon & Schuster, $25)

Poet-of-a-certain-age Paul Chowder has reached a dark time in his life. The specters in the shadows include deadlines, writer's block, and loneliness, yet Paul never loses his sense of humor or his love of verse. Funny and humane, this novel conveys an enlightening lesson for all.

NONFICTION

Until the Last Man Comes Home: POWs, MIAs, and the Unending Vietnam War

By Michael J. Allen (Univ. of North Carolina Press, $30)

Though relatively few American soldiers remain unaccounted for in Vietnam, a powerful movement evolved to recover their remains and bring them home. Allen, a historian at Northwestern University, presents a perceptive analysis of the Vietnam War's POW/MIA issue—and its political impact.

The Sixties

By Jenny Diski (Picador, paperback, $14)

Hide this book from your grandchildren! British journalist Diski drifted through the 1960s taking drugs, having sex, and spending time in mental institutions in her attempts to subvert the Establishment. She paints a counterculture whose intense self-absorption ushered in the corruption of the 1980s. Diski's clever, meaningful arguments expose a self-mythologizing generation and its ultimate failures of fore- and hindsight.

In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother's Suicide

By Nancy Rappaport (Basic, $25.95)

In 1963, when Rappaport was four years old, her mother, a Boston socialite, died of an overdose of sleeping pills. Retrieving her mother's words from long ago via newspaper clippings, notes, and a novel she was writing at the time of her death, Rappaport pushes through her parents' turbulent marriage and troubled family history to weave this stunning narrative. An inspiring model for anyone hoping to understand the past—and, finally, to accept it.

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