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July Releases

Susan Salter Reynolds reviews new books by Deanne Stillman and Oksana Marafioti

Desert Reckoning
by Deanne Stillman
(Nation Books, 320 pages, $26)
It was 110 degrees on the day hermit Donald Kueck shot a deputy sheriff and disappeared into the High Mojave. This raven’s-eye view of the manhunt weaves together the threads leading to that bloody moment. Stillman looks for the heart of the crime in the history of the desert, a frontier besieged by drugs and subdivisions. Mysterious and terrifying, the book recalls In Cold Blood channeled through Mike Davis.

 

American Gypsy
by Oksana Marafioti 
(FSG Originals, 368 pages, $16)
At 15, Marafioti emigrated from the Soviet Union to L.A. with her Romany mother (a singer) and father (a musician who dreamed of playing with B.B. King). Her parents divorced soon after the move. Sorting through homesickness (forgetting her native language) and hilarity (her father’s bizarre work as a psychic), Marafioti tries to answer that endlessly fascinating question: What does it mean to be an American?