Alibi V.13 No.49 • Dec 2-8, 2004 

Speed Reader

Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River

Peter Heller
Rodale Books
hardcover
$24.95

They say kayaking down the Tsangpo is akin to snowboarding down Everest—not just dangerous, but quite a bit stupid as well. Heller chronicles a 2002 attempt by an ornery team that somehow lived to tell the tale.

Scream Queens of the Dead Sea

Gilad Elbom
Thunder's Mouth Press
hardcover
$22

Set in a Jerusalem mental hospital, this crazed debut is told in the first person by a narrator who shares the author's own name. Critics have called it a hilarious, inventive novel that shows enormous promise for this new Israeli writer.

Banishing Verona

Margot Livesey
Henry Holt
hardcover
$24

This quirky story about the love connection between a semi-autistic house painter and an older, pregnant radio show host is blessed with lush language and idiosyncratic characters. It's been described as quality chick lit.

Hannah Coulter

Wendell Berry
Shoemaker & Hoard
hardcover
$25

A skinny new installment in Berry's Port William series, a twice-widowed rural lady provides an elegant and moving account of her life and love affairs, weaving in stories about the adult lives of her children as well. Advance readers have said this slim novel is up there with Berry's best.