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Rock legend’s autobiography hits the shelves

“Clapton: The Autobiography” by Eric Clapton. Readers hoping for sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll won’t be disappointed by the legendary guitarist’s autobiography. As he retraces every step of his career, from the early stints with the Yardbirds and Cream to his solo successes, Clapton also devotes copious detail to his drug and alcohol addictions, particularly how they intersected with his romantic obsession with Pattie Boyd. His relationship with the woman for whom he wrote Layla culminated in a turbulent marriage he describes as drunken forays into the unknown. But he genuinely warms to the subject of his recovery, stressing its spiritual elements and eagerly discussing the fund-raising efforts for his Crossroads clinic in Antigua. His self-reckoning is filled with modesty, especially in the form of dissatisfaction with his early successes. He professes ambivalence about the famous Clapton is God graffiti, although he admits he was grateful for the recognition from fans. At times, he sounds more like landed gentry than a rock star: Bragging about his collection of contemporary art, vigorously defending his hunting and fishing as leisure activities, and extolling the virtues of his quiet country living. But both the youthful excesses and the current calm state are narrated with an engaging tone that nudges Clapton’s story ahead of other rock ‘n’ roll memoirs.

“Ghostwalk” by Rebecca Stott. Drawing on alchemy, neurology, animal-rights activism, and supernatural visitations, this début novel is an ambitious, learned thriller. A Cambridge historian dies under suspicious circumstances, leaving behind the nearly completed manuscript of a book on the alchemical experiments of Isaac Newton. Her son, a research scientist, hires his former lover, Lydia, to finish the book. Meanwhile, a shadowy group of animal-rights activists escalate their violent attacks. As Lydia is drawn further into Newton’s 17th century world, she begins to believe that his ghost is haunting her and, perhaps, directing the murderous events of the present. Stott is a historian of science, and deploys her research effortlessly and demonstrates great attention to detail,

“The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumphs From the frontiers of Brain Science” by Norman Doidge. For years the doctrine of neuroscientists has been that the brain is a machine: Break a part and you lose that function permanently. But more and more evidence is turning up to show that the brain can rewire itself, even in the face of catastrophic trauma: Essentially, the functions of the brain can be strengthened just like a weak muscle. Scientists have taught a woman with damaged inner ears, who for five years had had “a sense of perpetual falling,” to regain her sense of balance with a sensor on her tongue, and a stroke victim to recover the ability to walk although 97 percent of the nerves from the cerebral cortex to the spine were destroyed. With detailed case studies reminiscent of Oliver Sachs, combined with extensive interviews with lead researchers, Doidge, a research psychiatrist and psychoanalyst at Columbia and the University of Toronto, slowly turns everything we thought we knew about the brain upside down.



“Towelhead” by Alicia Erian. Erian takes a dogged, unflinching look at what happens as a young woman’s sexuality blooms when only a predatory neighbor is paying attention. After 13-year-old Jasira is sent to live with her father in Houston (“I didn’t want to live with Daddy. He had a weird accent and came from Lebanon”), she finds herself coming of age in the shadow of his old world, authoritarian ideas, which include a ban on tampons (they’re for married women, he insists) and a friendship with a boy who’s black. Trapped between her father’s rigidity and a wider culture that seems without rules, Jasira is left to handle puberty on her own, as well as her budding sexual desire and an ongoing longing for love and acceptance. Her creepy neighbor, Mr. Vuoso, senses her desires, and she responds eagerly to his sexual overtures. His willingness to eroticize her is heightened by how exotic – as well as distasteful – he finds her, a halfÐMiddle Eastern child living in America on the eve of the first Gulf War. He hires Jasira to baby-sit for his son, and it’s clear that their relationship will destroy them.

Compiled by owner Stacey Colin at Harmony Books, 231 Broad St. Nevada City, 265-9564. Hours are Mon. through Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m-5 p.m.


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