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CL Recommends

44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith (Anchor). Originally written as a serial for a daily newspaper in Edinburgh, 44 Scotland Street chronicles the lives of the residents of the apartment building at that address. Alexander McCall Smith, best known for his delightful No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, says he wrote about a conversation with Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City) about doing serialized novels : Charles Dickens is perhaps the best known example : and the editors of The Scotsman then challenged him to try his own hand at such a project. The result is amusing and fun, if a bit uneven. Clearly written for his "hometown" Scots audience, we first meet the residents through the eyes of Pat, a student taking a year off, but then Smith takes each resident on separate adventures. 44 Scotland Street is a different sort of light summer read, clever, pleasant and entertaining. - Ann Wicker

Surrealism: Desire Unbound edited by Jennifer Mundy (Princeton University Press). This is the gorgeous and intelligently produced catalog for London's Tate Modern's groundbreaking surrealism exhibition, including over 300 color illustrations and a wide range of essays by some of the best art historians around. Contributors from Dawn Ades to Hal Foster and David Lomas provide historical background and creative insights into the surrealists' view of life and the fluidity of identity. But as great as the essayists are, and they're terrific, the artwork itself is the big attraction here. - John Grooms

Whores On The Hill by Colleen Curran (Vintage). If you were ever an angry 15-year-old, full of powerful emotions you didn't really know what to do with (and that's pretty much all of us, right?), this is your novel. This debut tour de force is about such a teen and her two best friends, "the sluts of Sacred Heart," who evince the very real intensity of adolescence and the confusion it can cause. The time of life when everything is happening for the first time, including really awful things, is successfully conjured up in this fast-paced novel. Curran treats kids as fascinating, complex people who are thrown off-balance equally by heartbreak and joy : and pulls no punches when writing about the costs of their rash impulses. - Dana Renaldi

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