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Tipping Point: Our picks and pans ("Who Is Maud Dixon?," "Seeking New Gods," "Audrey")

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BOOK TIP

Who Is Maud Dixon?

Alexandra Andrews

So who IS Maud Dixon? In Andrews' debut novel, that’s the pseudonym for a writer whose first book is a bestselling phenomenon. The real person behind the alias is Helen Wilcox, who is a strong-willed, arrogant soul living a hermit-like existence. She doesn’t do press or make appearances, remaining a mystery to the public. She hires an assistant named Florence, an aspiring writer trying to figure out her own identity. On a trip the two take to Morocco, Florence awakens in the hospital, with no sign of Helen and with everyone believing that Florence is, in fact, Helen. Let the games begin. Andrews brings dark humor to the tale, along with a finely calibrated sense of suspense.

— Kristina Dorsey

 

CD TIP

Seeking New Gods

Gruff Rhys

The older I get, the more I have these vaguely dyslexic moments with regards to the names of products or people. This is something that happens with Welsh songwriter Gruff Rhys — perhaps most associated with the band Super Furry Animals — whom I confuse with British adventurer Bear Grylls, a man whose career, it might be said, puts him close contact with plenty of furry animals. So that doesn't help. Anyway, Gruff has mostly focused on a solo career over the last decade. Given his influence in Super Furry Animals, it's not surprising that he own material is very similar — which is to say distinctive, lulling, vaguely dreamy rock. To me, he's like a latter-day Brian Wilson if the Beach Boy surfed over to Wales and embraced paganism. "Seeking New Gods" is a consistent and very enjoyable listen with tunes like "Mausoleum of My Former Self," "The Holiest of Holy Men" and the quasi-hit "Loan Me Your Loneliness" warmly reminiscent of past work — even as Gruff goes "all Grylls" by wandering enthusiastically into the musical future.

— Rick Koster

 

MOVIE TIP

Audrey

This is a pleasant documentary about iconic actress Audrey Hepburn, but it seems to skim along the surface of her life rather than really delve in. “Audrey” touches on her incandescent presence on screen, as well as elements of her personal life that have been well documented — her absent father, her childhood in Nazi-occupied Holland, her quick ascent to movie stardom, her difficult romantic relationships, her devotion to working with UNICEF. Director Helena Coan interviews film critic Molly Haskell, director Peter Bogdanovich and Hepburn’s son Sean Hepburn Ferrer and granddaughter Emma Hepburn Ferrer, and it’s all very nice if not very revelatory.

— Kristina Dorsey 

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