BOOKS: Hard Facts

Doris Lessing writes a blunt, unapologetic autobiography

At 75, novelist Doris Lessing is publishing the first volume of her autobiography. Already she is skeptical. "Were I to write it aged 85, how different would it be?" That's Lessing -- always doubting, exacting, comparing. Under My Skin (HarperCollins; 419 pages; $25) is not so much a recollection of her early life in Southern Rhodesia as a dissection of it. Remote styles of life -- in a colonial outpost at the end of the British regime in Africa, with its hopeless yearnings and longings, and in communist circles of the 1930s, with their blithe and heartless dreams of a brave...

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