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Book World Raves

"The Choosing of the Jewels," one of the many tapestries shown in "Luxury Arts of the Renaissance," by Marina Belozerskaya (J. Paul Getty Museum, $100) (Muse Du Moyen Age (Cluny), Paris)

The Lake, the River & the Other Lake , by Steve Amick (Pantheon). Behind all the small-town shenanigans lie the terrible old familiars of fear and loss, and they give this gentle novel a weight that makes it worth cherishing. --Carrie Brown

Last Night: Stories , by James Salter (Knopf). All of these stories share Salter's exquisite prose, his talent for flitting gracefully between points of view, his uncanny ability to sum up a character in a single detail.

--Michael Knight

Legends: A Novel of Dissimulation , by Robert Littell (Overlook). A spy novel that portrays today's Russia as a kleptocracy -- a gangster state for which the United States is largely responsible. -- PA

The Lost Mother , by Mary McGarry Morris (Viking). Eleven-year-old Thomas Talcott and his little sister, Margaret, have been abandoned by their mother. A perfectly lovely book about perfectly awful things. --Richard Grant

The Man Who Lost the Sea , by Theodore Sturgeon (North Atlantic). This ongoing series forms a keystone not only in the edifice of science fiction, but in that of 20th-century literature as a whole.

--Paul Di Filippo

March , by Geraldine Brooks (Viking). A life-sized protagonist -- the father of those "Little Women" -- is caught inside an unimaginably huge event: the Civil War.

--Karen Joy Fowler

The March , by E.L. Doctorow (Random House). Follows Sherman's army on its cataclysmic march through Georgia, then up into the swamplands and hill country of the Carolinas. --John Wray

Memories of My Melancholy Whores , by Gabriel Garca Mrquez (Knopf). Classic Garca Mrquez. Full of surprise and grace: This is a story of love; a man mustn't die without knowing the wonder. --Marie Arana

Misfortune , by Wesley Stace (LB). This ripping transsexual romp set in Romantic-era England reads like some inspired collaboration between Dickens and filmmaker Pedro Almodovar: full of orphans, decadence, flouncy skirts, greed, wild farce and all manner of meditation on sexual identity.

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