'My Last Days as Roy Rogers,' By Pat Cunningham Devoto, Warner Books; 358 pages; $20.

"My Last Days as Roy Rogers" is a simple coming-of-age story. The setting adds richness and texture and gives a certain depth to Pat Cunningham Devoto's first novel -- saving it from being too cute.The setting is the South, a small town in Alabama, a town so Southern that someone born in Tennessee is considered a Yankee. The time is the early 1950s, summer, prime polio season.

The threat of polio is only a minor inconvenience for 10-year-old Tab Rutland. When you are born white and born into a prominent family, you traverse the countryside as you wish and have many light-hearted adventures.

Devoto populates her story with humorous characters and dialogue. Only Tab's mother, being an outsider, manages to pick up on the pain going around town. Still her anguish is mild and amusingly described.

The novel is as nostalgic as an old black and white movie. The heroine is as perky as Shirley Temple. Expect to be entertained, but not deeply moved, by "My Last Days as Roy Rogers." -- By Susan Whitney (The Deseret News)

'Why Not Me?' The Inside Story of The Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency, By Al Franken; Delacorte Press; $23.95.

Just about everyone but Rush Limbaugh would agree that Al Franken is both politically astute and pretty darned funny. Because Franken's last bestseller was titled "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations," Sir Rush of the Right is, we must concede, allowed to despise Franken's every literary innard.

But Franken's wicked sense of humor is just as sharp when the author/comedian skewers himself, as proved by "Why Not Me? The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency," his imaginary life as America's president. The book is an indictment of our political system and the candidates, pundits and voters who have brought it to its current slapstick state.

While his opponents front the usual well-oiled political campaign teams, Franken stumbles along with a clutch of lunatics. Because he feels behind the learning curve on real issues, Franken invents one: service charges at bank ATMs. He gets voted into office.

The best political satire plays no favorites; liberals as well as conservatives will find some of their political sacred cows on the butcher's block here. If Franken occasionally strays into tastelessness, that's a small price to pay. -- By Jeff Guinn, Forth Worth Star-Telegram

Library board to choose best nonfiction books

ATLANTA -- Get ready for another literary firestorm. Not satisfied with stirring up a controversy over the 100 greatest English language novels of the 20th century, the Modern Library board is set to choose the 100 best nonfiction books of the 20th century.

The Modern Library editors did learn something, though, after being criticized for having a panel of judges that included only one woman -- A.S. Byatt -- with nine male writers who were all eligible for membership in the American Association of Retired Persons. This time, authors Caleb Carr, Ron Chernow, Stephen Jay Gould, Charles Johnson, Jon Krakauer, Elaine Pagels and Carolyn See have been added to the panel to make it younger and more diverse.

Other judges include Modern Library editor Christopher Cerf, author Gore Vidal, former Library of Congress librarian Daniel J. Boorstin and author Shelby Foote.

The final 100 selections will be announced April 29 at BookExpo in Los Angeles. -- By Don O'Briant (Cox News Service)