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Books in Brief

Courtney Love: The Real Story
By Poppy Z. Brite
Simon & Schuster; $25 cloth

This somewhat authorized biography is a must for diehard fans who will thrill to know the details of Love's reform-school evaluations ("Courtney spends more energy trying to find ways to beat the system rather than trying to work within its confines to accomplish her own goals") and the never-ending list of drugs taken, with whom and on what continent. Love's life is full of absent parental units, useless therapy sessions, tortured love affairs, sleazy strip jobs, scribbled journal entries and an aching desire to be famous. Fans are also treated to the inside story of Love and Kurt Cobain's tempestuous marriage, their attempts at rehab and Cobain's eventual suicide. While horror writer Brite (Exquisite Corpse, Drawing Blood) doesn't skimp on the facts, her first nonfiction work is totally bereft of the complex emotions and psychological insights of her novels. The biography resembles a dry academic text with lists upon lists of dates and events, instead of an intimate portrait of an iconoclastic woman. (Trystan L. Bass)


A Dry Spell
By Susie Moloney
Delacorte Press; $23.95 cloth

After four years of drought, the North Dakota farming community of Goodlands is not such a good land. In fact, when rainmaker Tom Keatley shows up, he detects something downright sinister lurking beneath the parched soil. Keatley, brought to town by banker Karen Grange, is no con artist--he really can pull the rain out of the sky. He finds it tough going in Goodlands, however. The rain falls gently on neighboring communities but stops dead at the town's borders. Meanwhile, some mysterious force is overturning cars, starting fires and poking holes in water tanks. For a story with so much potential for mythic undercurrent (one would expect at the very least a vengeful god and the need for a supreme sacrifice to bring fertility back to the land), A Dry Spell is a real yawner. All the fireworks are literally anticlimactic, occurring at the end after the townsfolk have celebrated the return of the rain, and Karen and Tom have finally given in to the sexual tension that's been building. The life-and-death battle, symbolized by purifying rain and choking dust, reads suspiciously like stage directions for a wham-bang special-effects movie. (Dale Bryant)


Exegesis
By Astro Teller
Vintage Books; $11 paper

Set mostly in cyberspace, but also in Palo Alto, this first novel (by the grandson of A-bomb inventor Edward Teller) consists entirely of the imagined email correspondence between a Stanford grad student and Edgar, an Artificial Intelligence program that she created. Edgar develops a will of his own, bolts from his domain and begins to wreak havoc on the information highway. This rebellion forces its inventor to deal with the Big Questions: What is the ultimate meaning of consciousness? What is the source of morality? And what do you do when daddy cuts you off for not finishing that doctoral thesis while the National Security Agency is on your trail? (Eric Johnson)

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From the Nov. 13-19, 1997 issue of Metro.

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