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Not liking "San Miguel" would be like kicking kittens. T.C. Boyle is one of contemporary American literature's big guns, and "San Miguel" is a heartfelt, meticulous novel imagining the lives of three brave women on one of the least-known and most picturesque parts of the continental United States, during one of American history's liveliest periods, from the 1880s to the en…

Hoyt Lake Swimmer(based on an article in The Buffalo News, 4/1 4/1 2)cars passing or walkers with dogs, or both:somebody saw & phoned, & then Air Onehovered & the black mitts of divers minedunder whitecaps of 43 degree April watertoo dirty for eyes because – man down,man in; "his arms ending at the elbows,"he left clothes & shoes & glasses in bent grass,in underwear …

It's a sight gag you've seen David Letterman, in balmier days, pull off a million times. He'll be doing some bit on his show with mock danger involved -- some experiment by kid scientists, say, or feeding an animal you wouldn't want crawling around your bedroom. And then, suddenly, with a blood-curdling shriek, he'll pull his hand back or pretend to hold some body pa…

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Ingrid Bergman refused to cap her teeth or pluck her eyebrows to satisfy studio heads, but when it came to her craft, she didn't hesitate to chop her hair to play Maria in "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Ava Gardner rebuffed requests to fill in a facial dimple with plastic surgery. Sophia Loren gave a firm "no" when she was told to get a nose job after her first screen test.…

SELECTED ESSAYS By JOHN BERGER PANTHEON 588 PAGES, $35 THE SHAPE OF A POCKET By JOHN BERGER PANTHEON 264 PAGES, $24 "When my father died recently," wrote John Berger in the 1972 essay "Drawn to That Moment," "I did several drawings of him in his coffin, drawings of his face and head." He then immediately tells us an anecdote about the listless life d…