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[whitespace] By Christine Brenneman (CB) and Michelle Goldberg (MG)

book cover Breasts: Our Most Public Private Parts
By Meema Spadola
Wildcat Canyon Press, 249 pages, $13.95

Meema Spadola's Breasts continues the story of bazongas, cha chas or boobs as explored in her documentary film of the same name. In her book, Spadola effectively opens up dialogue about this subject and lavishes extremely serious attention upon the way women feel about this body part. Traumatizing and hilarious stories about breasts--told by hundreds of women of all ages and shapes--compose the bulk of this work. Breasts is at its best when recounting the preadolescent fear and glee about anticipating the arrival of one's breasts: "I told her that lima beans would make your boobs grow, so she went home and ate two cans of lima beans after school. She said she was about ready to puke afterwards." (CB)

book cover Central Square
By George Packer
Graywolf Press, 304 pages, $24.95

Central Square takes place in Boston, but its particularly urban pathos will be very familiar to San Franciscans. The book teems with cultish self-help groups, ineffectual social workers, condescending white liberals, broken-down bohemians and characters who think that they can change their lives by changing their identities. It follows Joe, a young American black man who finds he gets far more respect when he poses as an African expatriate; Eric, a blocked writer floored by his wife's pregnancy; Paula, a psychologist frustrated by her inability to truly help her clients; and The Community, a mysterious activist group that promises to restore meaning to its members' fractured lives. This is an utterly compelling book about being lonely in the big city, and Packer renders his sad, desperate characters with warm humor and intense sympathy. (MG)

book cover Word
By Coerte V.W. Felske
Warner Books, 416 pages, $24

In a vicious story of the Hollywood lifestyle, Coerte V.W. Felske transports the reader, however unwillingly, into the movie-driven anathema of depth that is L.A. Struggling screenwriter Heyward Hoon narrates our journey through "industry" parties, dinners at the hippest eateries and sexy encounters. A gaggle of questionable characters inhabits this story, including "Wannabeasts" (fame-seeking hounds), "8x10s" (all look, no content) and various other movie types that exist in this insular, elitist community. This story about aching for success and the price of achieving it in Hollywood is good, fluffy fun that will remind you why you live in Northern, not Southern, California. (CB)

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From the December 7-20, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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