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STEPLINGS

Steplings

Itís 2003 with the country embroiled in a war in Iraq. Nineteen-year-old Jason Sanborn feels lost. He dropped out of high school just two months shy of graduation, and now his former classmates are off to college, the military, or minimum-wage jobs. The only pressing date on his calendar is an upcoming appearance in court on an assault charge, and when his over-achieving, beloved girlfriend, Lisa, departs for UT Austin to study premed, Jason can hardly abide his hometown of Mesquite. When his mother died two years back, his father Burl, fifteen years sober, fell off the wagon briefly, but he has since met a new wife, Lily, in AA. Lily brings a daughter into the house: Emily, an eleven-year-old know-it-all whose existence irritates Jason.

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PURPLE HEARTS

Set during the turmoil of World War II, Purple Hearts is the story of the epileptic scion of an East Texas timber and oil fortune and his marriage to a stunning stranger desperate for sanctuary. Though naïve and virginal, thirty-year-old Georgie Karacek wins Sylvia through his charm and kindness. Longing to prove himself, he then hides his illness to join the Army. Sylvia's relationship with Georgie's overprotective mother proves difficult, so to make ends meet she takes on a boarder, Robert, in his absence. Soon he and Sylvia grow close, and he presses her to run away with him.

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GABRIEL'S EYE

From Publishers Weekly
Smith (Understanding Women; Uncle Dad) pulls the reader into a world of sexual longing and psychological introspection in this plainspoken but complex tale. The plot will catch the attention of anyone captivated by current headlines: Jeff, a 17-year-old boy, and Susan, his beautiful 28-year-old art teacher, develop a relationship that turns romantic and ends in tragedy. Jeff is a new student at the high school in Dallas where Susan teaches. When he slides shyly into a meeting of her after-school art club, she takes note: his awkwardness doesn't seem to match his preppy good looks.


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HUNTER'S TRAP

On the night of the vernal equinox in 1930, the novel's protagonist, Wilbur Smythe, puts in motion his plan to avenge the deaths of his wife and his employer, a wealthy Kiowa, both murdered by a banker greedy for the Kiowa's oil money. Smythe intends to kidnap the banker's seventeen-year-old daughter, Sissy, and hold her hostage to torment her father before killing him.

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THE VESTAL VIRGIN ROOM

The Vestal Virgin Room is an ebullient tragicomic novel that explores the hopes and fears of two small-time entertainers in pursuit of the American dream. For years Don and Dottie have been eking out a living with their piano, drum, and vocal act in mediocre night clubs and Holiday Inns; all over the Midwest. Now they're on the road again, but this time with a difference. This time, at the end of their tour, they'll be playing Las Vegas - only one night, only the lounge, only the intermissions, and not in a first-rate hotel. But it's a break, and secretly they're both got a lot riding on it.

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BUFFALO NICKEL

In 1917 oil was discovered on David Copperfield's land in Oklahoma - and overnight the Kiowa ferryman, a.k.a., Went On A Journey , became a millionaire. From his childhood in the tamed West of a reservation (where buffalo are imported from the Bronx Zoo) to his career as professional Indian in the celluloid Wild West of Hollywood, Buffalo Nickel vividly evokes all the drama and irony of David's life.

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THIN MEN OF HADDAM

Orphaned as a child and reared by an Anglo family, Raphael Mendez lives in a nether world, neither de la raza nor Anglo. Having dropped out of graduate school after a squabble with his fellowship sponsors, he is foreman of the ranch of his childhood. Paired against Mendez in this striking first novel is his cousin, Manuelo - practically illiterate, broke, the father of six starving children, and unable to find work. When Manuelo's desperation pushes him to the other side of the law, Mendez must choose sides.

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COUNTRY MUSIC

Country Music opens when Bobby Joe Gilbert, Hedorville's Bane to Virgins and Most Unlikely to Succeed, confronts an unwelcome question: "What are you going to do with yourself?" He is desperate to escape the chains thrown around him by his reputation, by his self-image, and by the limitations of his world. But the bonds are strong. A brief college career dissipates in endless games of pinball and a stormy friendship with Polly, a Lesbian pinball addict who resists his sexual advances and penetrates his psychic defenses.

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UNDERSTANDING WOMEN

It’s 1956, and James Robert (Jimbo) Proctor’s just turned sixteen when his uncle Waylan and his new wife Vicky invite him to spend a summer toiling in the New Mexico oil patch. Jimbo dreams that heaving heavy metal about will serve as well as a Charles Atlas course to make a man of him, but he lands smack dab into a domestic fracus that has his uncle living in his machine shop and sneaking out with Sharon, his secretary. Meanwhile, Jimbo’s aunt Vicky leads a protest against a fundamentalist book-ban and rails against American H-bomb tests on Bikini.

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UNCLE DAD

Acclaimed novelist C.W.Smith explored his own experiences as a divorced father-separated from his twin children-in a 1985 Esquire article. The response was so overwhelming that Smith was inspired to write this moving, refreshingly honest memoir of his own broken home.

There are no good guys or bad guys, no winners or losers in this sensitive and powerful account. There are only human beings trying to grapple with anger and lonliness and the unending pain of loss-and, ultimately, with the joy of mutual forgiveness and understanding.

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LETTERS FROM THE
HORSE LATTITUDES

In the 'horse latitudes' of the Gulf of Mexico, that zone where long periods of high pressure keep the winds away, becalmed sailors sometimes tossed the horse overboard to conserve water. In these unapologetically traditional and realistic stories, characters find themselves in circumstances which demand similar difficult and undesirable acts.


Because the stories are set in the Southwest and Mexico, from about 1920 through 1990, they often hinge on the suspicions, antagonism and ignorance the region's different cultures, races, and classes bear against each other.

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