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Sunday, March 30, 2014 - 3:00am

Miss Lonelyhearts No More: Three Surprising Books of Advice

It amazes me that those of us who bridle at advice from people we know parents, spouses, neighbors crave it from those strangers we call authors. Stand in front of any magazine rack and gaze upon the endless lists of promises on the covers: advice on how to publish your first novel, lose weight, or put that spark back into your love life. Think of that corner in the bookstore devoted to "Self-improvement." Books with "how to" in the title including my latest effort number in the thousands.

Here are three astonishing examples of the advice genre, books so different in form and content that I doubt they would gravitate to any other shelf but my own and now maybe yours.

I realize the shared theme among these three odd volumes: survival. Fisher offers ways of shopping, gathering and cooking that could sustain a family during the deprivations of the war years; Hudson helps us understand the forces of nature that sustain life on this planet in all its wondrous variety; Cahan teaches us that even those crammed on to the Lower East Side of Manhattan Island (where I was born) are not islands unto themselves. We survive together.

Roy Peter Clark's most recent book is How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times.

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