Hot Topic: Hormones 

This month's best-sellers hawk Zoloft, erase God, and ponder the post-apocalypse.

An advertising brochure for Zoloft is now a hot seller in local bookstores. How? Because it's cleverly packaged as a feminist pop-psych tome titled The Female Brain (Morgan Road, $24.95), by Cal grad Louann Brizendine. Now the director of UCSF's "Women's and Teen Girls' Mood and Hormone Clinic" (seriously), Brizendine has infuriated rival researchers with this breezy manifesto claiming that the behavioral differences between men and women can be explained by innate biological difference in brain structure, which is itself caused by hormones. She advocates Zoloft and estrogen therapy so effusively that you might well wonder if Pfizer is lurking behind the scenes as a cosponsor.

It's been 117 moons (that's nine years to you city-folk) since Charles Frazier took the literary world by storm with his debut novel Cold Mountain. Now he's back at last with Thirteen Moons (Random House, $26.95), for which he was reportedly paid plenty wampum ($8 million in US cash). Thirteen Moons riffs on the same basic concept as Thomas Berger's 1964 classic Little Big Man: A doddering codger recounts his outrageously colorful 19th-century youth, which entails being adopted by a doomed Native American tribe and bumping into famous characters at critical moments in history.

Cormac McCarthy apparently caught a screening of Ray Milland's 1962 exploitation flick Panic in Year Zero! and decided to refashion it as a postmodern novel. Either that or the cult-favorite author of favorites such as Blood Meridian and No Country for Old Men has been playing too many zombie-themed video games. How else to explain that in his best-selling new effort The Road (Knopf, $24), McCarthy squanders his talent on the hackneyed setting of a million bad sci-fi stories: a desolate post-apocalyptic landscape in which the heroes must fend off cannibals and freaks.

This has been a banner year for Christian-bashing books, pretty much all of them preaching to the converted — actually, the eternally unconverted — but two have sped straight onto the best-seller tables: Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion (Houghton Mifflin, $27) and Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation (Knopf, $16.95). As the most famous living evolutionist, Dawkins makes no bones about his intent: to awaken the world to God's nonexistence and banish religion forever. He doesn't limit himself to Christianity: He takes Islam to task as well, and even Buddhism takes a beating. Harris' earlier hit The End of Faith also trashed the Koran along with the Bible; apparently he was inundated with mail from Christians begging him to reconsider. And he didn't. Still, the popularity of these books proves that the United States is paradise for blasphemers; The Allah Delusion or Letter to an Islamic Nation aren't likely to pop up in a Riyadh Borders anytime soon.


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