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[whitespace] All reviews by Michelle Goldberg

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!
By Fannie Flagg
Random House, 480 pages, $25.95

Unapologetically middlebrow, Fannie Flagg's Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! is extremely entertaining in a trashy, escapist way, so long as you can get past its Hallmark-card mawkishness. Written in the folksy style that made Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe a bestseller, the novel tells the story of Dena Nordstrom, the gorgeous blond star of a TV newsmagazine. Nordstrom is brilliant, rolls out of bed looking smashing and is worshipped by everyone who meets her, but she suffers from ulcers and anxiety attacks and can't get close to people. Gradually, she tries to burrow to the bottom of a traumatic family secret, hoping it will help free her from her adult problems.


Louse
By David Grand
Arcade, 272 pages, $23.95

Louse is an engrossing, terrifying mind-game, a first novel that has elements of Kafka's The Trial, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, George Orwell's 1984 and Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery." In a massive skyscraper over a desert casino, Herbert Horatio Blackwell, a Howard Hughes-style millionaire, has created a sterile, multistory panopticon in which a whole society of bureaucrats and servants is imprisoned in an attempt to create an ideal society. Forced to inject themselves with drugs that eliminate their long-term memories, none of them really knows how they got to the "resort town of G," as the prison is called, or who they were before. Louse is told from the point of view of Blackwell's personal attendant, Herman Q.


Nureyev: His Life
By Diane Solway
Morrow, 625 pages, $27.50

Rudolf Nureyev was an international ballet sensation who partied with the likes of Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull and Andy Warhol. This new, meticulously researched biography contains lots of information about Nureyev's defection from Russia that was only recently declassified. Solway never really gets into Nureyev's head but her portrayal from the outside in is fascinating both for its impossibly glamorous jet-set milieus and for its glimpses of Nureyev's complex, magnetic blend of hedonism, discipline, genius and obsession. The scene of Nureyev escaping from his KGB chaperones and into French protection at a Paris airport is so thrilling and dramatic, it would seem unbelievable if written by a novelist and not a journalist.

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From the November 2-15, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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