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Slim pickings and a look ahead 

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The doldrums of August must carry over to the publishing industry. The only book of note that came across our radar that's releasing this month is Norris Church Mailer's “Cheap Diamonds” (Random House, hardcover, $24.95). It's the story of Cherry Marshall, a young girl from “Sweet Valley,” Arkansas, who moves to New York to pursue a modeling career. An actual sample line: “Sweet Valley was not the place for a girl with stars in her eyes, and I had stars big enough to blind me.” Warhol, Max's Kansas City and other'70s New York icons factor in.

The only other newish book to mention is Pamela Des Barres “Let's Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies,” (Chicago Review Press, hardcover, $24.95) which features (surprise, surprise) a chapter on “Sweet Sweet Connie” Hamzy.

So, a look ahead:

 Whither go the legal thrillers? If we had to tender a guess, we'd say that John Grisham has had his fill (his publishers on the other hand … ). If he had his druthers, we suspect the Jonesboro native would just soon write books like “Playing for Pizza,” which Random House is releasing on Sept. 25. The short novel details the cultural misadventures of an ex-NFL player, who as a last resort, signs on with professional team in Parma, Italy. Also, word is that Little Rock-native David Gordon Green will likely adapt and direct the film version of Grisham's “The Innocent Man.”

 In other adaptation news, HBO will produce a six-hour mini-series based on Richard Ford's Frank Bascombe trilogy of books, “The Sportswriter,” “Independence Day” and “The Lay of the Land.” James Mangold (“Walk the Line”) will direct. Ford spent many of his formative years in Little Rock, while his grandfather managed the Marion Hotel.

August House, the former Arkansas publisher, now decamped to Atlanta, will release El Dorado downtown developer Richard Mason's debut novel in October. “The Red Scarf” is a loosely autobiographical coming-of-age story set in South Arkansas during World War II. The accompanying bio for the book says that Mason's writings “reflect a time of brown sunburned feet, shirtless summers and very special country Christmases.”

Way down the road: North Little Rock-native Nate Powell's next graphic novel won't come out until 2008, but eager fans can preview several pages on the Top Shelf Comix website (www.topshelfcomix.com). “Swallow Me Whole” is a love story about adolescent stepsiblings who're battling schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, family breakdowns and more. “Sounds of Your Name 2.0,” a 360-page anthology of Powell's previous work, is available through Microcosm Press for $15.

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