Alibi V.13 No.32 • Aug 5-11, 2004 

Speed Reader

Little Black Book of Stories

A.S. Byatt
Knopf
hardcover
$21

Several entries in this elegant new book of short stories incorporate elements of imaginative fantasy. This Little Black Book should prove to be yet another celebrated collection by one of Britain's most talented living fiction writers.

Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy

David Stevenson
Basic Books
hardcover
$35

In this fat treatise, Stephenson expertly examines the somewhat dubious internal politics that inspired nations to initiate and exacerbate a pointless war that set the stage for the even greater calamity of World War II.

Madeleine is Sleeping

Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum
Harcourt
hardcover
$22

Composed of bite-sized fantastical segments, Bynum's debut novel spins a surreal modern day fairy tale about a French girl who falls into a deep sleep. According to advance readers, the story is much more lively than it sounds.

Waking Raphael

Leslie Forbes
Bantam
hardcover
$25

By most accounts, Forbes' third novel offers up a surprisingly entertaining tale revolving around, of all things, the restoration of one of Raphael's paintings. This one's an intelligent, quick-as-mercury thriller.