23 fiction books you'll want to read this summer
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'Confession of the Lioness' is a somber dance of hunter and hunted

Mia Couto's somber and masterfully wrought novel "Confession of the Lioness" examines a village in danger, a place where "the border between order and chaos was being erased."

Women of Kulumani, a small village in Mozambique, are being attacked by lions with increasing frequency. Miriamar, at 32, is the eldest and only surviving daughter of Hanifa and Genito. Her sister, Silência, is the lions' most...

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Richard Schickel's movies memoir 'Keepers' is breezy to a fault

Professional moviegoer is a nice job if you can get it, and to his credit, Richard Schickel makes no attempt to hide his good fortune. The longtime film critic for Time magazine, now effectively retired, Schickel began reviewing movies "more or less by accident" in 1965 and has since built a noteworthy career as a documentarian, biographer and teacher. Of his lifelong vocation, he makes no grand claims:...

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'A Wailing of a Town' paints a vivid picture of San Pedro's punk scene

Ever since 1996's "Please Kill Me" by Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil, oral histories have become the go-to genre for underground music narratives. In "A Wailing of a Town," the latest addition to this populist discourse, San Pedro artist and musician Craig Ibarra interviews the bands and partisans that made his hometown an unlikely harbor for creative protest during punk's middle passage (the years...

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'Influence Machine' reveals how U.S. Chamber of Commerce oils the engine of politics

Nearly 50 years ago, California Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh famously compared campaign cash to mother's milk. Though money and influence have always shaped American politics, the nature of that power is changing. Driven by the rise of political action committees and a Supreme Court that has conflated campaign spending with free speech, money has become ever more essential to the acquisition and maintenance...

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Lisa Glatt talks catharsis, nudism and her new novel, 'The Nakeds'

In Lisa Glatt's new novel, "The Nakeds" (Regan Arts: 288 pp., $24.95), first-grader Hannah Teller is hit by a car one morning in 1970 in a Southern California beach town. The teenage drunk driver, Martin, flees the scene.

As a result of her injuries, Hannah spends the rest of her childhood in a leg cast. Martin keeps running, but he's emotionally immobilized by guilt. They may be the only two people...

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Real-life 'Billion Dollar Spy' reads like a Cold War fiction thriller

One wintry night in early 1977, in the depths of the Cold War, a furtive man approached a CIA officer at a gas station reserved for foreign diplomats in Moscow and slipped him a note offering to spy for America.

CIA supervisors in Washington were so fearful of a KGB trap that they said no — repeatedly.

Adolf G. Tolkachev had to approach the CIA seven times over the next year or so, once even banging...

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