Boston Globe

RUN OF THE MILL? NOT 'EMPIRE FALLS'

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In the Empire Falls of Richard Russo's clever and knowing fifth novel, the empire has all but fallen. Led by the mighty Whitings, its textile mills had powered the fictitious central Maine town for generations, but now only tatters remain.

The most visible remnants are the two old factories that stand hard by the Knox River, but there are plenty of others, including the clan's flinty, calculating matriarch, and memories woven deeply into the fabric of the community.


TRAVELS WITH EINSTEIN ON THE ULTIMATE ROAD TRIP Michael Paterniti ponders the nature of the universe, with the famed physicist’s

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It's a reassuring illusion to believe that we know where we're going and what will happen along the way. But who has not encountered the Big Event, the unplanned occurrence that forever changed our little plans and schemes?

It became like that for every thinking person when, in 1905, a flash of insight led Albert Einstein to the Theory of Relativity. We thought we understood the universe, and then we saw we didn't.


KEEPING TIME BY THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK

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For Ellen Franck, delight, devotion, and despair are all wrapped up in a Pickle.

That's what she calls her little niece Nicole, whom she's adored since the moment she saw her. Ellen lives in Manhattan and Nicole in Maine, so each visit is an event. They spend all their time together, eating the same food, sleeping in the same bed, waking up beside each other. It is behavior, Laura Zigman writes in "Dating Big Bird," "completely befitting two people in love."


'COLOR OF MONEY': THE PACE IS FAMILIAR

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If you've read le Carre or Ludlum, you've met men like Harry Strand before. He's a suave, middle-aged fellow living in quiet peace, particularly content because his previous life brought peril at every turn. Even those closest to him have no idea he was a secret agent, one of the best and most honorable of them. He knows too much about too many powerful people, but his skills have allowed him to stay comfortably hidden.


'BAD BOY' IS ANOTHER EASY RAWLINS MYSTERY THAT'S HARD TO RESIST

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If all you're seeking for your summer reading is a good mystery with a fast pace and suspense that lasts, you could do far worse than "Bad Boy Brawly Brown," the 12th book and seventh Easy Rawlins story from Walter Mosley.

But just as there's a lot more to Mosley than Easy Rawlins, there's a lot more to the Easy Rawlins series than good guys and bad.

One of the wonders of Mosley is that he so consistently and successfully blends plot and character with substantial social commentary.


THE ANNENBERGS AND THEIR WORK

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Billions in philanthropy ensure that many monuments to Walter Annenberg will remain when he dies, befitting someone who has achieved what he has. At 91, Annenberg is not only perhaps the greatest philanthropist of the century, but also one of its most accomplished figures.

Upon a base of insolvency, he built an impressive publishing empire anchored by TV Guide, which sprang from instinct and became a near monopoly in its field. Annenberg was no saint, but in "Legacy," Christopher Ogden's biography of Walter and his father, people attest to the son's strong moral center.


A FENWAY WITH CLASS AND GLASS? Mere copy of old park would be a failure

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Even before John Harrington announced last month that the Yawkey Trust would sell the Red Sox, it was a Boston given that replacing Fenway Park would require too much time, cost too much money, and ultimately be a disappointment to everyone involved.

One need look only as far as the FleetCenter to know that.


ADVANCING SENSELESS VIOLENCE AS A LITERARY GENRE

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Before Colin Harrison begins rolling out the 400-plus pages of mayhem and gore in his new novel "Afterburn," he offers up an enormously telling quotation from Jean-Paul Sartre that begins, "Torture is senseless violence . . . "

It's not the quotation itself that's revealing, but Harrison's decision to include it.


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