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March 15, 1992|CHARLES SOLOMON

OUT HERE: A Newcomer's Notes From the Great Northwest by Andrew Ward (Penguin: $9). In this collection of commentaries from National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," Ward, the descendant of an old New England family, struggles to adapt to an agreeable but very different life on Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound: "I have always subscribed to the notion that if you get too open-minded your brains fall out. But I suppose that if I'm going to have any friends out here at all, I'm at least going to have to leave the door ajar." He writes about the routines of daily life with an informal vivacity that makes mundane trivia seem interesting. Some of the most interesting essays in the book recount the history of the eccentric old house Ward and his wife bought. A visit from the aged daughter of its flamboyant builder brings its past alive for the author and his readers.

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