Salon recommends

What we're reading, what we're liking.

By Salon Staff

Published June 1, 2000 7:11PM (EDT)

The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs (Puffin)
For anyone with a Harry Potter jones, July (when the new book of his adventures comes out) seems like an awfully long way away. You can slake your thirst for appealing boy characters and wizardly doings by turning to the many books by John Bellairs. In this, one of his best, an orphan named Lewis goes to live in a vast ramshackle Victorian mansion with his portly, eccentric Uncle Jonathan, who turns out to be a warlock with a witch for his best friend. The illustrations by Edward Gorey should clue you in that some of Bellairs' books might be too scary for very sensitive children, but he has a way with strikingly spooky imagery that offers delicious chills to braver souls. If only his one adult novel, "The Face in the Frost," were still in print!

--Laura Miller

The Wings of the Dove: Henry James in the 1990s by Robin Wood (Indiana University Press)

The British Film Institute's series of slim "Modern Classics" monographs finds one of its best entries in Robin Wood's appreciation of Iain Softley's delicately sumptuous adaptation of the late Henry James novel. Despite occasional lapses into unconvincing ideology, Wood remains one of film criticism's best close readers, his keen analysis always grounded in emotion.

This eloquent explication is a superb essay on the question of faithfulness vs. freedom in novel-to-film adaptations.

--Charles Taylor

On the Rez by Ian Frazier (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
A book about American Indians, specifically the Oglala Sioux on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. It's stuffed with fascinating material -- about Indian-run casinos, about a heroic Oglala basketball legend named SuAnne Big Crow and especially about the writer's bumpy friendship with a mercurial Oglala named Le War Lance. The writing is predictably wonderful, though it may strike anyone bewitched by the daredevil virtuosity of Frazier's earlier work as surprisingly straightforward, even subdued.

--Craig Seligman

Recent books praised by Salon's critics

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Of Two Minds: The Growing Disorder in American Psychiatry by T.M. Luhrmann
A subtle study of the conflict between talk-oriented and drug-oriented psychotherapy -- and a frightening demonstration of how medical budget cutters are betraying the mentally ill and putting the rest of us at risk.
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Chang and Eng by Darin Strauss
A daring first novel probes the psychological -- and sexual -- lives of the celebrated Siamese twins.
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Tuning in, turning on and dropping out-- in the 1890s.
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A superb introduction to the new face of organized crime is rife with tales of amputation, castration and blood-sprayed trophy blonds.
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"Stern Men" by Elizabeth Gilbert
In a terrific first novel, a restless 18-year-old feminist idles away a summer on an island of irascible Maine lobstermen.
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"The Fundamentals of Play"by Caitlin Macy
The rich have rules but they won't explain them, according to a smart novel about life after the Ivy League.
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"American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley -- His Battle for Chicago and the Nation" by Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor
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