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Metropolitan Book Picks

[whitespace] Picks by Michelle Goldberg, Christa Palmer and Richard von Busack

Breakup: The End of a Love Story
By Catherine Texier
Doubleday, 160 pages, $19.95

Catherine Texier's new memoir is a liberating temper tantrum of a book, heart-wrenching, bathetic, embarrassing and more fascinating than a train wreck. Texier and her partner, Joel Rose, were, it seemed, the ideal boho literary couple. They co-published the influential literary journal Between C and D and had two daughters and a cozy duplex apartment where they wrote and read each other's work. Then, after 18 years, Rose left Texier for his agent. Breakup chronicles Texier's anguish as Rose vacillated between their life together and the glamour and celebrity he hoped to find with his new lover. Publishing the book appears to be an act of both revenge and catharsis for Texier. She comes out looking like a hysterical martyr, he like a macho monster. Written in diary form, Breakup sometimes frustrates with its melodrama and repetitiveness, but it captures the obsessively circular thoughts of the spurned lover, along with the denial, resignation, exhilarating clarity and paralyzing despair that accompany the end of a relationship. I winced, I cried, I spent the next week fantasizing about mauling Rose on behalf of womankind. (MG)

Invisible Republic
By Greil Marcus
Henry Holt, 304 pages, $12.95

Greil Marcus is the Fox Mulder of rock criticism, always searching for connections and conspiracy. Sometimes his speculations are little more than emotional hunches. Still, the hackle-raising possibilities with which he teases a reader suggest that he's on the right track. Marcus' latest book, now in paperback, analyzes The Basement Tapes, a cycle of songs recorded by Bob Dylan and the Band 30 years ago and released in various bootlegs and official versions. Marcus sees these songs as a cryptic message "from the old, weird America" that still exists (interdimensionally, in a sense) in recorded form. Marcus' musical detective work can be a lot more spine-chilling than The X-Files, too, especially when he traces the murder of "Pretty Polly," in the folk song of the same name, through Dylan's "Hollis Brown" to the raped heroine in Nirvana's "Polly." Of special local interest is Marcus' memoir of Harry Smith, the brilliant Bay Area archivist (and a real character) who started Folkways Records with his bootleg Anthology of Folk Music, a Rosetta stone for folk fanciers, a signpost on the road back to popular music that had integrity, passion and mystery. (RvB)

Blues for Hannah
By Tim Farrington
Crown Publishers, 243 pages, $21

Tim Farrington's Blues for Hannah is a beautifully written tale about the fragility of love torn by circumstance. Jeremiah Mason is struggling to maintain his unraveling marriage with his college sweetheart when late one night he receives a phone call from a police officer who informs him that his former love, Hannah, a beautiful, free-spirited blues singer, has died in a car crash. He is asked to go and identify the body and sets out to travel across the country to the accident site, taking his 8-year-old son with him. Blues for Hannah is a tender mediation on the different paths that love takes and is enriched with courage and loyalty. Farrington's prose is poetic, compassionate and supple, crying out for what the heart longs for--and has lost. (CP)

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From the July 27-Aug. 9, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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