The Money-Whipped Steer-Job Three-Jack Give-Up Artist
By Dan Jenkins, Doubleday, $24.95
Jenkins’ novel Dead Solid Perfect was a comic sendup of professional golf: cynical, sexy, raunchy, and funny; full of phrases that made their way in to the language of the sport. You can’t play a round anywhere in the country without hearing someone say he hit that one “dead solid perfect.”
Now Jenkins, this generation’s Ring Lardner, has written another golf novel, and at courses across the country, you will no doubt hear frustrated golfers saying, “I made it in regulation, no problem, and then I three-jacked it.” As in three putt, don’t you see?
The novel follows a season in the life of Bobby Joe Grooves, who is good enough to make it on the tour — and to support his two ex-wives — but not good enough to win a major. Still, he dreams of making the Ryder Cup team.
Our read: It’s pure Jenkins. And in the world of sports literature, that is the real deal.
— Goeffrey Norman
Elvis In The Morning
By William F. Buckley Jr., Harcourt, $25
Orson Killere, 15, is crazy about Elvis. But Killere, who lives on a U.S. Army base in Germany in the late 1950s, is also a budding socialist. Out of some mis-begotten Robin Hood impulse, one night he breaks into the PX, where he’s caught stealing records for Elvis-deprived German kids. Impressed, PFC Presley visits his young fan, and a friendship is born.
In his 14th novel, America’s favorite right-wing pundit breaks from his usual tales of espio-nage to whip up an improbable tale of an Army brat and The King. It almost works. But there’s a kind of stiffness in the telling, as though somebody’s father was trying to dance at a rock concert. I couldn’t help wondering what Buckley’s very funny son, Christopher, an altogether more nimble storyteller, would have done with this coming-of-age tale.
Our read: Not as cool as The King, but still a clever premise.
— Bill Marvel
By Sheldon Siegel, Bantam, $24.95
Mike Daley is one of a multitude of fictional lawyers who practice in the pages of novels. An imperfect man, Daley is reminded, with depressing frequency, of his imperfections. He is a failed priest and a failed husband. He was fired by one of the finer firms in San Francisco because he didn’t bill enough business. Still, he tries to be both a good lawyer and a good man. It isn’t often easy.
Enter the case of Prentice Marshall Gates III, the local district attorney and candidate for California attorney general, who has been found in a hotel room with a dead male prostitute whose face was wrapped in duct tape. He wants Daley — who is no friend — to defend him.
The book unfolds according to the conventions of the genre, but a certain predictability does not get in the way of the reader’s pleasure in watching a competent, flawed, and appealing man do his job.
Our read: A guilty pleasure for poolside or plane. — G.N.
The Secret Life Of Dust
By Hannah Holmes, John Wiley & Sons, $22.95
Dust is our beginning and it will assuredly be our end. With every breath, we take in tens of thousands of particles. Holmes suggests that by age 6, our children have consumed at least a cup and a half of pollen, pesticides, lead, dander, fibers — the parts and pieces of our crumbling world.
Here, a science journalist tracks the dust streams that pour across from Saharan Africa, fertilizing South American rain forests, and that carry the Gobi, particle by particle, across the Pacific Northwest.
It’s alarming to learn that our every action produces tons of the stuff, from tire dust to the invisible clouds that arise from cooking, vacuuming, gardening, and powdering baby. A whole dust food chain lives off it, fungi to mites to cockroaches, and their decomposing bodies and droppings add to the mess.
It’s a wonder we aren’t up to our necks in it. Our read: It’s the kind of dirty book that’ll have you reaching for the Pledge. —
By Bill Marvel and Geoffrey Norman Marvel is a senior
features writer for The Dallas Morning News. Norman is the author of nine novels and several nonfiction books.