Title: "All for Love"
Author: Pat Booth
Length, price: 239 pages, $22 Pat Booth's latest foray in the trash-novel genre starts predictably enough. Perky medical school student Tarleton Jones (Tari to her friends) juggles her studies and an affair with movie star flavor-of-the-month Rickey Cage. Rickey was bumped from first class (yeah, right) and seated next to her on a flight to Miami.
One night, a madman attacks a physician in the emergency room, horribly maims him and seems ready to turn on others when Tari is suddenly imbued with a magic, spiritual voice. She ** is not afraid. She feels only love and kindness and understands the universal truths philosophers have been searching for. She quietly commands the lunatic to stop his rampage, and miraculously heals the wounded doctor.
"I am the daughter of God," Tari says.
Is she really the child of the Lord, or is she suffering from a schizophrenic delusion? Is she the earth's savior, or is she as crazy as the man she talks into surrendering? Is she destined to do great, holy deeds, or have steamy sex with Rickey Cage? Is she smoking or nonsmoking?
"All for Love" combines too many elements of the New Testament, down to the betrayal by Tari's best friend that could lead to a symbolic crucifixion, and "Agnes of God," the stage play and movie. But it's fun reading on a topic that most trash novelists won't touch.
The title of Maya Angelou's new book is a line often repeated by elderly black church folk, meaning despite problems encountered in life, they wouldn't change anything if they could. Settling comfortably into middle age, Ms. Angelou in this work reflects on her own and others' lives and draws out lessons for the younger members of her audience.
In a series of 24 finely crafted essays, Ms. Angelou touches on many subjects including: the sensuality of youth; charity is good for the giver, too; and the joys of a planned pregnancy.
Since she has new-found fame after reciting an original poem for the presidential inauguration in January, this work may be more financially rewarding for her than previous works. But in no way does it outshine her three-volume autobiography and five collections of poetry.
However, seeing all of the problems in America, maybe Ms. Angelou figured that there is a great need for the "wisdom of a lifetime" from a grandmother -- a hip one at that.
Title: "The Road to My Farm"
Author: Nora Janssen Seton
Length, price: 225 pages, $21
Nora Janssen Seton's husband, a banker of sorts, had all kinds of names for the dream farm craved by his spouse -- "Bleating Hearts," "Nora's Ark," "Farm From the Madding Crowd." Alas, Ms. Seton never got her farm -- note the book's title -- because her husband was offered a position in Zurich soon after they had found the perfect 36-acre spread in northwest Connecticut.
It's disappointing that we never find out in "The Road to My Farm" whether Ms. Seton's hopes and fantasies jibe with reality, but the book is still charming, full of wit and intelligence and the odd, startling fact. One great appeal of farming, she writes, is that it allows her "to want to become a beginner again, to want to start all over again, like a child" -- to absorb a body of knowledge, in short, with one's guard down.
Ms. Seton is no starry-eyed romantic. She worked in agribusiness for four years (following schooling at Harvard and Texas A&M;), but she does have a heart soft as fleece; summer work on ranches and farms told Seton she likes only the first half of husbandry, "the raising half." Here's hoping she does attain her dream, and writes about it, so we can learn how long a working farmer continues to regard a pig litter as "a sweet pink heap of communal breathing that can only be likened to a napping rugby scrum."