The Best Books of 1994

FICTION

1. In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien (Houghton Mifflin). A boyish politician, spooked by an election defeat and by undead memories of Vietnam, retreats to a Minnesota lake to sort things out. He and his wife, who has spooks of her own, slip separately through the trapdoors of the mind into the subterranean world where morality, evil and reality itself are shifting phantoms. O'Brien, who served in Vietnam and in 1979 won the National Book Award for Going After Cacciato, once more displays his enormous talent.

2. The Afterlife and Other Stories by John Updike (Knopf). Again,...

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