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The Redneck Manifesto--America's Scapegoats: How We Got That Way and Why We're Not Going to Take it Anymore, by Jim Goad (Simon & Schuster, $22).

Synopsis: White people get a bad shake in life. Particularly poor, rural white people, who are insulted with impunity while others (hello blacks!) get a free ride. "Racist" is a smear term just as "communist" was in the 1950s.

Representative quote: "People have become prejudiced against racists. In many circles, it's considered more heinous to hold unpopular racial viewpoints than actually to murder someone."

Noteworthy flaw: Chapter eight, "What's So Bad About Hatemongers, Gun Nuts, and Paranoid, Tax-Resisting Extremists?" fails to deliver on its promise.

Backyard Roughing It Easy, by Dian Thomas (The Dian Thomas Company, $14.99).

Synopsis: Camping and picnicking is fun right in the old backyard. If you lack proper equipment, improvisation is simple: a child's wagon or a flower pot is easily turned into a grill. Includes 70 pages of recipes for fun foods such as pudding cones and a volcano cake, which calls for a half-pound of dry ice.

Representative quote: "A portable hair dryer is one of the best ways of speeding up the charcoal briquets' preparation time."

Noteworthy flaw: Extensive "About the Author" section begins: "Dian Thomas: genuine, uncomplicated ingenuity. TV personality and best-selling author..."

The Sadomasochism of Everyday Life: Why We Hurt Ourselves--And Others--And How to Stop, by John Munder Ross, PhD (Simon & Schuster, $22).

Synopsis: "Whether they admit it or not, almost everyone is interested in pain and suffering. Scratch the most normal surface, and you will find a little fundamental erotic sadomasochism in just about everybody."

Representative quote: "Doesn't it feel great, or didn't it, at least when you were a kid, to pick at a scab? The itch, the dig, the final sting, the blood?"

Noteworthy flaw: Uh, not that great.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): book covers.


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