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Paulette Jiles

Paulette Jiles has written several collections of poems. Her debut novel, Enemy Women (Morrow, William & Co., $25), was published in February. Here she lists six favorite books from her recent reading.

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbran (Ballantine Books, $15). Laura Hillenbran is a fabulous writer, and tells the story of “the little horse that could” with poetic verve and power. She brings a storyteller’s gift to this narrative, and tells us of Seabiscuit’s courage and his clowning, as well as the tragic story of his heroic jockey Red Pollard. I read it twice.

Island: The Complete Stories by Alastair McLeod (Vintage Books, $14). These are his early short stories, and his gift of tale-telling grows and matures with each one. He has mastered the folktale; I was taken away into another world.

Tom and Huck Don’t Live Here Anymore by Ron Powers (St. Martin’s Press, $26). A nonfiction account of social change, this one about a small Missouri town that is very dear to me, as I lived near it for several years as a child and knew Tom Sawyer’s cave before it became commercialized.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (Anchor Books, $14). Absorbing and intriguing, many-layered, the story seems to walk forward as easily and quickly as a confident stroller who knows her way in a remote landscape. Beautifully written. I especially liked the creation of the secondary world of Norn.

In the Sunlight, in a Beautiful Garden by Kathleen Cambor (Harper Perennial, $13). Once again the story of a world destroyed in the early part of the 20th century. The tale centers on the Johnstown flood and the irresponsibility of the very rich when they move into a rural setting and regard the locals as the not-really-there. Well written.

From Can to Can’t: Texas Cotton Farmers on the Southern Prairies by Thad Sitton and Dan K. Utley (University of Texas Press, $25). Excellent research on small cotton farmers of diverse cultures and races in Texas in the early part of the century. A warm, sympathetic and interesting book that lets men and women who loved the land speak for themselves.

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