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SUNDAY BRUNCH | Culture Watch

Hitting the Fiction/Nonfiction Jackpot

January 25, 1998|JOSH GETLIN

Publishers may wring their hands over shrinking profits this year, just as they did for much of 1997. But when it comes to quality, there's a rich surplus of fiction and nonfiction titles coming your way in the first five months of 1998.

Notable novels are Robert Stone's "Damascus Gate" (Houghton-Mifflin), a tale of modern-day Jerusalem; Charles Johnson's "Dreamer" (Scribner), a portrait of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; John Casey's "The Half-Life of Happiness" (Alfred Knopf), a withering look at domestic life; and Toni Morrison's "Paradise" (Knopf), the story of an all-black town.

Other titles include Ivan Klima's "The Ultimate Intimacy" (Grove Press), a glimpse of personal and political upheaval in the Czech Republic; Mary Gordon's "Spending" (Scribner), a novel about a female artist; and T.C. Boyle's "Riven Rock" (Viking), a 19th century love story set in Santa Barbara.

Nonfiction titles include "Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973" by Robert Dallek (Oxford University Press); "Official Negligence: How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD" by Lou Cannon (Times Books); and "Damages" by Barry Werth (Simon & Schuster), a chilling look at one family's collision with medical malpractice.

Other books include "Scorpion Tongues: Gossip Through the Ages" by Gail Collins (Morrow); "Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years" by Taylor Branch (Simon & Schuster); "Greetings From the Lincoln Bedroom" by Arianna Huffington (Crown); and "One Step From the White House: The Rise and Fall of Senator William F. Knowland" (University of California Press) by Gayle B. Montgomery and James W. Johnson.

Standing out in the pile of memoirs are "A Monk Swimming" by Malachy McCourt, brother of "Angela's Ashes" author Frank McCourt; "Don't Tell Dad" by Peter Fonda (Hyperion); "Laughing Matters" by Larry Gelbart (Random House); and "Now and Then," a Brooklyn recollection by Joseph Heller (Knopf).

Enough new books to suit any taste. But in case you haven't had enough of The Trial, there's Daniel Petrocelli's book for Crown that easily wins the prize for subtitle of the year: "Triumph of Justice: Closing the Book on the Simpson Saga."

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