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A Vivid Treasure From Traven

January 22, 1998

What prompted me to pick up B. Traven's "March to the Monteria"? My unsuccessful search for the video of "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," one of my favorite films. Not finding the movie at my local library, I headed to the bookshelves and started looking for Traven's novel on which the movie was based. Though that book was checked out, there were several others by Traven, and "March to the Monteria" piqued my interest.

A prolific author in the early 1900s, Traven wrote about racist Mexican social structures in a way that can help the reader understand the current crisis in that country. Although I don't speak Spanish and freely admit my ignorance of Mexican history, Traven's brilliantly descriptive style and dialogue gave me a crystal-clear picture of Chiapas. The adventures of the novel's hero, a much-abused teenager, gripped me and made me care. I was captured by the vivid imagery and wondered when a screenwriter might stumble across this book. Who knows? It might even make a better film than "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre."

MICHAEL HILLMAN

Culver City

*

I have just finished "The Silents," by Charlotte Abrams. In this memoir, the author takes us from her childhood in Depression-era Chicago to Los Angeles, where she lives with children of her own. What makes her story unique is that her parents, Joe and Ruthie, were deaf. We are allowed into a world that is foreign to most, a world where there are no dogs barking, no voices, no music. It's an inspiring story, full of rich, memorable characters, and an enjoyable read for all.

BETH RIGAZIO

Venice

*

Nelson DeMille is a master of the intelligent thriller. In "Plum Island," he applies his formidable high-stress plot skills to a laugh-out-loud tour de force. But the menace is still there--in spades.

NYPD Det. John Corey, a thinking man's James Bond, has been wounded and is convalescing in the Long Island township of Southold. Just offshore lies Plum Island, site of a government animal disease research center rumored to harbor enough anthrax and assorted deadly viruses to wipe out the Eastern Seaboard. Especially worrisome: the scientists there, a weird and paranoid lot, jealously guarding their germs. When murders occur, befuddled local police ask Corey for assistance. He is more than up to the task, dividing his time cunningly between deadly biological agents, fine wine, buried treasure and a vicious villain while bonding romantically with not one but two local beauties. "Plum Island" is a peach of a read.

MILDRED HEGERLE

Coronado

*

I was married once, almost married again. We were good people, but nobody had any kind of relationship training to handle the differences that erupt with intimacy. Romance is easy when we enjoy the same music, movies, foods, what-all. But suppose she likes John Tesh, I like Willie; she likes sunsets, I like sunrises; she likes sit-down dinners, I like grazing; she scrambles eggs with a fork, I use a spoon.

In romance, especially at first, differences get glossed over. Later, when differences clash, what happens? Friction? Separation? Divorce? Statistically, divorce is the winner. In "The New Intimacy: Discovering the Magic at the Heart of Your Differences," Judith Sherven and James Sniechowski determine that fights over differences occur in those unspoken, glossed-over areas, the "wilderness" of relationships, and that those differences also are where true, real-life romance prospers.

This book is not simplistic psych-radio-moralizing "get over it!" babble. Fulfillment will take work. Hard work! So buy two books, one for yourself, one for your mate. Why? The person you love longs for you to truly love him or her as he or she is--just as you long to be truly loved for who you are. Maybe you will even find the romance in taking out the garbage. I did.

MICHAEL E. HAYNE

Los Angeles

*

Through "Sober and Staying That Way: The Missing Link in the Cure for Alcoholism," a powerful book by Susan Powter, I finally understand alcoholism, the progression of the disease, the breakdown of the body's organs, the altered brain and--most important--the low blood sugar connection. This book can give families struggling with alcoholism hope, understanding and a plan for recovery.

BARBARA RODRIGUES

Burbank

*

Each week I take out five to seven books from the library--mostly mysteries. But my favorites are from my own collection of gardening books. They are called "A Place Called Sweet Apple" and "The Sweet Apple Gardening Book," both by Celestine Sibley. Each year I dig these two out of my collection and read them over.

The first one is about a woman from Atlanta who went to the country and found an old cabin, and her restoration of the cabin and garden. I, too, was a working woman who found a small house and built a home and a beautiful garden. I am now retired with time to tend 500 rose bushes and read wonderful books from the library.

JUNE M. GROSE

Los Angeles

* Next week: Kevin Baxter on books for children and young adults.

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