Reading ''The Group'' and other books by Mary McCarthy inspired Frances Kiernan to read several biographies about her. But none satisfied Kiernan's desire to know McCarthy ''off the page.''
So, Kiernan wrote her own biography of McCarthy.
''Seeing Mary Plain: A Life of Mary McCarthy'' is an exhaustive 845-page biography, with nearly 100 pages of text notes, bibliography, index, and biographical notes about more than 200 of the book's characters.
The book, Kiernan's first, is among the latest hardcover books. Others include novels by Barbara Taylor Bradford, Arthur C. Clarke, Susan Sontag and Nora Roberts; and nonfiction, including Donald Spoto's biography of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the second volume of Victor Klemperer's diary of Nazi Germany, and a history of America's obsession with gossip.
"Seeing Mary Plain: A Life of Mary McCarthy" (Norton)
by Frances Kiernan
McCarthy, who died in 1989 at 77, is profiled through her correspondence and published works, and interviews with more than 200 people. Comments from friends, foes, relatives and fellow writers -- including Susan Sontag, Norman Mailer and Saul Bellow -- appear throughout the narrative. Topics include McCarthy's Vassar days, her marriages, stepmotherhood, the success of ''The Group'' (1963) and her legal battle with playwright Lillian Hellman.
"Where You Belong" (Doubleday)
by Barbara Taylor Bradford
Val Denning, an American war photographer living in Paris, is the subject of this 16th novel by the author of ''A Woman of Substance.'' While Val is covering the fighting in Kosovo, an ambush kills her lover. At his funeral, she learns disturbing truths about him. Val plunges into her career, reinventing herself as a celebrity photographer. On assignment in Mexico, she meets a dashing international artist with a playboy's reputation and a strong attraction to her.
"The Light of Other Days" (Tor)
by Arthur C. Clarke
and Stephen Baxter
Clarke, whose 60-plus books include ''2001: A Space Odyssey,'' co-wrote this sci-fi story about a world without privacy. A brilliant industrialist devises a way for people to see one another any time -- around corners and through walls -- even in their most intimate moments. While the world is dealing with this phenomenon, a method is discovered for using the same technology to look backward in time and uncover the truth about world history.
"In America" (FSG)
by Susan Sontag
In 1876, Maryna Zalezowska, Poland's leading actress, comes to the United States with her young son and husband, an aristocrat in revolt against his family. She leads a group of countrymen who settle in Southern California to establish a utopian commune. When the commune fails, most of the immigrants return to Poland. But Maryna stays, learns English and, as Marina Zalenska, begins a successful acting career in America.
"Carolina Moon" (Putnam)
by Nora Roberts
Progress, a small town in the South Carolina marshlands, is the hometown of Tory Bodeen, who grew up there with a tyrannical father in a home that stifled growth and discouraged dreams. Her salvation was Hope, a young playmate who made Tory feel like a normal child. But Tory's life fell apart after Hope's brutal murder. Now 26, Tory returns to settle down in Progress and start a business. But Hope's murder is still unsolved, and the town is soon hit by a murder spree.
"Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: A Life" (St. Martin's)
by Donald Spoto
The celebrity biographer whose subjects have included Princess Diana, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe turns his attention to a woman who was both first lady of the United States and wife of the world's richest man. Spoto draws upon archival information recently released by the John F. Kennedy Archives and on interviews with her acquaintances. Among the subjects: her subtle but powerful influence on presidential policy, widowhood, motherhood, and her career as a book editor in New York.
"I Will Bear Witness" (Random House)
by Victor Klemperer
Volume 2 of Klemperer's diary continues his record of daily life in Hitler's Germany. Klemperer, who died in 1960, was a teacher and author who lived in Dresden with his wife. The first volume covered 1933, when Hitler rose to power, through 1941; this volume continues through war's end in 1945. Klemperer describes how he and his wife escaped Dresden during the Allied bombings, just after they received orders of deportation to a concentration camp.
"Dish" (Avon Spike)
by Jeannette Wells
MSNBC correspondent Wells delves into five decades of gossip -- the celebrities who inspire it, the publicists who create it, the media that report it and the public that gobbles it up. The history takes readers from the silver-screen fan magazines through Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, the fledgling National Enquirer, tabloid TV and the Internet. Among the players: the first lady who stripped almost bare during a newspaper interview, the tabloid founder with links to both the CIA and the Mafia, and the big star who organized a boycott of People magazine.
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