BOOKS: STRIKING THE WRONG CHORD

A DISAPPOINTING NOVEL FROM E. ANNIE PROULX HAS NO HERO AND NO HEART

Not many novels manage to combine high literary aspirations with wide popular appeal. E. Annie Proulx's The Shipping News (1993) did so triumphantly. Critics loved Proulx's intense, sensuous prose. Readers for pleasure eagerly riffled through the pages because the author made them wonder what would happen next to the central character, a grieving widower who takes his two daughters and tries to start a new life on his family property in Newfoundland. After this Pulitzer-prizewinning performance, Proulx could count on her next novel churning up much anticipation.

What hardly anyone expected was Accordion Crimes (Scribner; 381 pages; $25), a book that...

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