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  Violence is inherently compelling in the arts; from the Bible to 15th-century paintings to the latest Hollywood action flicks, violence always grabs our attention. As we near the end of the twentieth century, one cannot look back upon it without feeling aghast at the staggering amount of violence that has transpired. Violence seems to permeate our culture and the entertainment that seeks to define our culture now more than ever. Often it is base, speaking to the lowest common denominator and wholly lacking in the subtleties that shape art. Sometimes, however, violence inspires contemplation. Books are perhaps the best medium for thoughtful examination of any subject, and this month we've brought together a group of authors who have spent a good deal of time studying violence.

Acclaimed German author Christ Wolf recreates the ancient myth of Medea, a woman accused of murdering her children in a jealous rage.

Journalist Gini Sikes talks about the year she spent researching her book 8 Ball Chicks, a provacative examination of young female gangbangers.

Harmony Korine, known for writing the movie "Kids" and his recent directorial debut with "Gummo," tries his hand at fiction.

Poet Peter Balakian writes of the genocide of his Armenian ancestors at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government in 1915.

The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln is reimagined in David Robertson's Booth, and the author writes about how America continues to be shaped by violence.

The quick rise and violent fall of the Death Row Records empire, and its notorious leader Suge Knight, is the subject of Have Gun Will Travel. An excerpt recounts the fatal shooting of rapper Tupac Shakur while Knight drove him to a Las Vegas party.

Next month our theme is "Landscapes," and we'll be featuring the work of favorites Jonathan Lethem, Bill Bryson, and Jon Krakauer, as well as fantastic books by newcomers Lisa Carey, Jesse May, and Dalia Pagani.

Larry Weissman

Bold Type Editor

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