A list of newly released paperbacks.
“Adventures of the Artificial Woman” by Thomas Berger (Simon & Schuster, $13). In this variation on the story of Pygmalion, Berger (“Little Big Man”) portrays a robot woman whose rise to stardom and power isn’t at all what her male creator intended. Carol Doup Muller said the book “takes on just about everything that deserves satirizing in our pleasure-seeking, perfection-obsessed, celebrity-worshipping, hubris-ridden modern world.”
“Snow” by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely (Vintage, $14.95). The latest novel by the prize-winning Turkish writer (“My Name Is Red”) starts off with a suicide epidemic among Muslim women in a Turkish town, after the government prohibits all females from wearing headscarves to school. Wingate Packard called this an “intense and provocative novel.”
“The Laments” by George Hagen (Random House, $14.95). A delightful debut novel about a white Rhodesian family constantly on the move for reasons of both career and politics. With comic élan and a gothic touch or two, Hagen brings alive the advantages and downsides of touching down on four continents before the kids are even in high school.
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“A Carnivore’s Inquiry” by Sabina Murray (Grove, $13). The PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author of “The Caprices” slips some meditations on cannibalism in history, art and literature into a tale about a female drifter whose mother may have committed hideous crimes. Deloris Tarzan Ament called it “a gothic triumph.”
“Wake Up, Sir!” by Jonathan Ames (Scribner, $14). In Ames’ latest novel, narrator Alan Blair is wealthy, alcoholic and, above all, unreliable — especially when it comes to his (possibly nonexistent) valet. Adam Woog found the book “by turns very funny … and very sad (alcoholism not being the all-out hoot it used to be).”
“I, Fatty” by Jerry Stahl (Bloomsbury, $14.95). A fictional treatment of silent film-star Fatty Arbuckle’s rise and scandal-plagued fall in Hollywood. John Hartl wrote, “Stahl imagines a resilient, creative showman whose bouts of melancholy … rarely overcame his delight in his work.”
“Little Earthquakes” by Jennifer Weiner (Washington Square, $14). A novel about three very different women bonding over the stresses of early motherhood. Melinda Bargreen called this “grown-up chick lit … full of snappy dialogue.”
“The Sunday Philosophy Club” by Alexander McCall Smith (Anchor, $12.95). Editor-sleuth Isabel Dalhousie is the heroine of this new mystery series by the author of “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.” Adam Woog found both the book and Isabel “intelligent and entertaining.”
“The Rule of Four” by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason (Dell, $7.99). The secret of a Renaissance text that has long stumped scholars is finally cracked by two Princeton seniors, in this “Da Vinci Code”-flavored bestseller.
“Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of The Birds of America” by William Souder (North Point, $15). This look at how Audubon’s masterpiece was created was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize.
“His Brother’s Keeper: One Family’s Journey to the Edge of Medicine” by Jonathan Weiner (Harper Perennial, $14.95). In his latest book, the Pulitzer Prize-winner (“The Beak of the Finch”) portrays what happens when a young man is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and his older brother, a genetic engineer, investigates every possibility — gene therapy, stem cells, brain vaccines — that might save him. D.J. Morel noted that the book is “far more about people than science.”
“Rising from the Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class” by Larry Tye (Owl, $15). A book arguing that African Americans got their first leg up in American society, not with the civil-rights movement, but with the employment opportunities offered by the Pullman Palace Car Co. Bruce Ramsey dubbed this “a well-researched and sympathetic history, a slice of Americana worth knowing.”
“Vermeer in Bosnia: Selected Writings” by Lawrence Weschler (Vintage, $15). A retrospective of essays spanning more than two decades, by the highly regarded writer for The New Yorker.
“Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and Her Missing Crew” by Brian Hicks (Ballantine, $14.95). The story behind the merchant ship that in late 1872 was found drifting undamaged in the North Atlantic, but with her crew missing. Eric Sorensen said the book offered “a strange story of many weird turns, but a tidy, reasonable explanation as well.”
“Who Let the Dogs In? Incredible Political Animals I Have Known” by Molly Ivins (Random House, $14.95). The syndicated columnist levels her wit at Reagan, Clinton, both Bushes — and many others.
“Misunderestimated: The President Battles Terrorism, Media Bias, and the Bush Haters” by Bill Sammon (ReganBooks, $15.95). The Washington Times’ Senior White House Correspondent suggests that Bush’s detractors have “misunderstood his appeal to the American public and underestimated his considerable political skills.”
“Off Ramp: Adventures and Heartache in the American Elsewhere” by Hank Stuever (Picador, $14). Antic essays about discount funeral homes, waterbed outlets and other matters, by a Washington Post writer. J. Patrick Coolican praised Stuever’s “curiosity, taste for the offbeat, humility and mellifluous phrasing.”
“The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter That Saved Greece — and Western Civilization” by Barry Strauss (Simon & Schuster, $14). An account of the Greek naval victory against the Persians, without which Athenian democracy and classical culture might never have flourished. Irene Wanner found Strauss’ writing “accessible and geared for a general audience.”
Compiled by Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times book critic, with contributions cited from staff or freelance critics for The Seattle Times.