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Recent Books

Clearcut by Nina Shengold (Anchor paperback). A very strong debut novel of lyrical beauty and quirky storyline, Clearcut is the tragicomic tale of a sweaty hippie ménage a trois in a 1970s-era Pacific Northwest logging town. Two men -- so in love with the same woman, they fall in love with each other, too -- veer between clearing stumps by day and trio-style happiness at night. Shengold's fluid prose turns what could have been cartoonish into a moving depiction of the idealistic/reckless experiments of the 70s, and a universal meditation on the prices we pay for happiness. -- Dana Renaldi

Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich (Metropolitan hardback). A follow-up of sorts to the best-selling Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich's new book has her applying for mid-level corporate positions. Originally slated as an expose of corporate drone-dom, the book takes an ironic turn when Ehrenreich can't get hired to save her life, and the story becomes a sparkling, sarcastic look at the soul-killing search for a corporate job, both the author's and other seekers'. Ehrenreich is as darkly funny as always, and gives penetrating glimpses into the "transition industry" -- parasites who drain what little money the jobless have -- and the unsettling phenomenon of "faith-based networking." -- John Grooms

How I Paid For College by Marc Acito (Broadway paperback). With a subtitle like "A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater," you expect humor by the case, and first-time novelist Acito delivers. New Jersey bi-sexual high school drama star Ed Zanni wants to go to Juilliard, passes the audition, but can't pay for school when his dad marries a gold-digger named Dagmar. Ed and friends, in between having sex as often as they can, set up a scam scholarship, diverting money Dagmar has drained from Ed's dad. And it gets more complicated from there. Acito, a columnist in Portland, OR, has a sizzling style and a light touch while dealing with some weighty topics. -- Billy Dunn

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