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Books: Leisure reading

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'Standing Up Country'

By C. Gregory Crampton

Rio Neuvo, $16.95

This classic "biography" of one of the great places on earth — the canyon lands of Utah and Arizona — has been out of print for a number of years. Originally published in 1964, it was an immediate hit not only with the scholarly community of the West but with the general reading community. Written by Gregory Crampton, a prominent University of Utah history professor, it has been re-edited in paperback, and historical and modern photographs matched to the story.

Crampton led the survey team that catalogued all the significant archaeological and historical sites treated in the book. The original edition inspired a new generation of photographers who discovered this beautiful region, and some of their most spectacular work is included here. This volume belongs in every Utah home. — Dennis Lythgoe

'Magic Terror'

By Peter Straub

Random House, $24.95.

In this new seven-story collection, Peter Straub demonstrates an incredible range. Only one of the short stories in "Magic Terror" is remotely similar to Straub's best-known novel, "Ghost Story." His new stories are different from his previous work and from each other, as well. Each is scary in its own way.

The one unifying aspect of his work is Straub's moral view. He believes people can't escape the evil they sow.

The most satisfying mystery in this new collection is "Porkpie Hat," a long story that starts out being about jazz and ends up being about racism and about the way family secrets echo down the generations. "Porkpie Hat" is hauntingly sad.

"Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff," on the other hand, is memorably funny. Black humor was never any darker than in this tale of torture-for-hire gone wrong. — Susan Whitney

'Car Camping'

By Mark Sundeen

HarperCollins, $13.

Crude, irreverent and well-written, "Car Camping" is Mark Sundeen's memoir of being 22 and hanging out around Utah. Sundeen smoked some dope. He drank some beer. For a time, he was a river guide on the Moab Daily.

He describes it: "If the passengers knew enough English to ask what a certain landmark was called or what kind of rock that cliff was, I just made something up and they all seemed to believe it. One of the words they understood was Butch Cassidy, so I would make up stories about how he used to live right here on this river. They liked that."

If you've read enough about coming to the desert to be silent and spiritual, if you want a reprieve from being uplifted, read this. — Susan Whitney