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Books: Leisure reading

'Maximum City'

By Suketu Mehta

Knopf, $27.95.

Suketu Mehta, a journalist and fiction writer from Bombay, "the biggest city on the planet" with 14 million people, left the city in 1977.

In preparation for this book, subtitled "Bombay Lost and Found," Mehta went back to see how things had changed.

He examines the city in unusual ways — looking at the criminal underworld of rival Muslim and Hindu gangs; a bar dancer who chose the only life available to her after a childhood of poverty; delving into the stories of people who leave the villages for life in the city. He tells numerous stories of the diverse people who live in severe congestion.

Mehta writes very well. He personalizes the city by infusing his own story into the narrative — this could very well become the classic story of Bombay, which the author sees as the megalopolis of the future. —Dennis Lythgoe

'Moving in His Majesty and Power'

By Neal A. Maxwell

Deseret Book, $14.95.

Neal A. Maxwell, a gifted and legendary apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 23 years, died of leukemia in July. The author of more than 25 books, he finished this gem — a book of his thoughts and reflections — 10 days before he died.

Not surprisingly, he deals heavily with suffering, something he understood intimately, in what will surely be considered a benediction to his highly literate and creative writings. He speaks with great appreciation of "the freedom of choice — "not to be made among passive, unattractive alternatives but among vibrant, alluring choices!"

Speaking of the cosmos, Maxwell writes, "It is like viewing a divinely choreographed, cosmic ballet — spectacular, subduing and reassuring!" He expresses gratitude for a "divinely inspired constitution" and warns against the "squabbling" that often occurs over small things. Maxwell warns against "misusing our authority," "covering our sins" and "gratifying our vain ambitions."

Finally, Maxwell suggests "looking beyond the scar tissue of the past" with empathy, remembering that our concerns should be for "what once was — not what is becoming. . . . Proud flesh — the extinct remains of the past— is appropriately named." —Dennis Lythgoe


By Kay Redfield Jamison

Knopf, $24.95.

Jamison, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, focuses on what she thinks is one of the important keys of living, "exuberance, the contagiousness of laughter, the giddiness of new love, the intoxicating effects of music and of religious ecstasy" while also addressing "the dangerous desire to simulate exuberance by using drugs or alcohol."

She further defines exuberance as "kinetic and restrained, joyful, irrepressible — a restless, billowing state. . . . Exuberance leaps, bubbles and overflows, propels its energy through troop and tribe." She also finds exuberance is contagious yet fragile.

What's more, she believes exuberance leads to "infectious enthusiasm" in a leader, which can be either "wonderful" or "calamitous."

This is a book that treats one of the most important words in our language with understanding and sensitivity. Jamison is a fine, thoughtful writer. —Dennis Lythgoe