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Short Takes: November 2009 

The Manual of Detection
Jedediah Berry
Penguin, 2009, $25.95
Berry’s dark, playful, and lucidly narrated debut novel is a journey through the mind of a meticulous dreamer. When Charles Unwin, a humble clerk at the elusive, all-seeing “Agency,” is suddenly promoted to investigate his former boss’s disappearance, the eponymous Manual helps him become the detective’s detective. Reading at Bard College’s Weis Cinema, 11/09 at 2:30pm, introduced by Bradford Morrow.

Soul of a Dog: Reflections on the Spirits of the Animals of Bedlam Farm
Jon Katz
Villard Books, 2009, $24
The New York Times bestselling author of A Dog Year and other canine chronicles poses the venerable philosophical question of whether animals have souls, exploring the topic through his relationships with animals, including a wildly affectionate but murderous barn cat, a chocaholic steer, and a dog with a singular talent for hospice work. Do dogs have souls? Katz’s title may offer a hint.

Reiki for Spiritual Healing
Brett Bevell
Ten Speed Press, 2009, $15.99
Reiki master and Omega Institute instructor Brett Bevell takes this traditional method of energetic healing of the physical body into the realm of healing the spirit. Reiki, he writes, “can be a doorway to spiritual awakening, to reaching that point of no separation between you and the Divine, and that Divine essence which is in all things.”

Divas On Screen:Black Women in American Film
Mia Mask
Univeristy of Illinois press, 2009, $25
An associate professor of film at Vassar, Mia Mask offers an wide-ranging academic disquisition on five iconic actresses—Dorothy Dandrige, Pam Grier, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Halle Berry—who “have deftly navigated the uneven terrain of racial, gender, and class stereotypes,” paving the way for new generations.

Collecting Under the Radar: Tomorrow’s Antiques
Michael Hogben & Linda Abrams
Red Rock Press, 2009, $26.95
Pine Plains author Abrams teamed with British auctioneer Hogben for this savvy survey of what collectibles are likely to increase in value, from Deco wall mirrors to mid-century costume jewelry, with some unlikely stops (cowboy spurs & horse bits?) along the way. If you have the flea market gene, this handsomely designed book gives great browse.

Summer Pleasures, Winter Pleasures: A Hudson Valley Cookbook

Peter G. Rose
Excelsior Editions, 2009, $14.95
Think local, cook seasonal. Food writer and historian Rose offers a bounty of unfussy recipes perfectly suited to dining al fresco on the deck or cocooning beside a crackling hearthfire. Each season includes a selection of breakfast dishes, take-along sandwiches, entrees to savor with friends, and desserts, with tidbits of local lore and destinations tucked in between.

click to enlarge the_manual_of_detection_jedediah_berry.jpg

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