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Geoff Dyer, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi: A Novel (Pantheon, $24)
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by Walter Robinson

Chick lit has come to bohemia, at least to judge from the handful of books that have recently arrived unbidden in the mail. I was immediately taken by the title character of The American Painter Emma Dial (W.W. Norton, $24.95), a novel by Los Angeles mother-of-two Samantha Peale. A 30-ish New York artist with striking gray hair and uncanny painting skills, Emma seems authentic to her core, and inhabits a quite believable contemporary bohemia set in SoHo, the East Village and Williamsburg, Brooklyn.