Book Article

OPENING ACTS

''I waited until evening, that twilight moment when the pavement was the same shade as the sky. I wore the dress with the long skirt and the lace collar, tiny white flowers printed on chiffon the color of dusk that made me nearly invisible against the fading day.... I might have been the vice president of the PTA, sent to drum up support for the next school levy. No one could have guessed my real business. No one could have guessed my handbag held a gun.'' -- First paragraph of Karen Novak's third novel, INNOCENCE ($24.95, Bloomsbury)

''In a dark corner of my kitchen, right next to the radio, sits a hideous enamel turtle that has not budged from this position since October 1993. During that memorable year, or so I have come to believe, the turtle's uncanny telekinetic powers contributed in some way to the Philadelphia Phillies' winning the National League pennant.'' -- From the first chapter of Joe Queenan's TRUE BELIEVERS: THE TRAGIC INNER LIVES OF SPORTS FANS ($23, Henry Holt)

Originally posted Jun 13, 2003 Published in issue #714 Jun 13, 2003 Order article reprints