Originally published in 1985, Mary Monroe's engaging debut novel, The Upper Room, features Ruby Montgomery, an obese, indomitable character who steals her best friend's baby daughter and flees to rural Florida, where she establishes herself as an almost mythical figure. The dialogue and setting are reminiscent of Zora Neale Hurston, but the story has a bizarre, violent edge à la Stephen King. Fantastic and exaggerated, the novel may seem dated in its descriptions of race and sex, but it is a candid portrayal of the cold-blooded yet fascinating Mama Ruby. (Dafina, $24 338p ISBN 1-57566-910-2)
The awkward pun in the title of this comic novel suggests much about what lies within. In Angels Prostate Fall by Marshall Terry, an English professor at a Texas university, has prostate cancer and describes in elaborate detail the operation he undergoes and its aftermath (" 'Here's your diaper,' the nurse Amanda says. 'You had better wear it home' "). Terry writes with verve and style, but his subject limits the reach of his tale. Fellow sufferers will appreciate his humorous meditations on his condition, but others may prefer to steer clear. (Southern Methodist, $19.95 176p ISBN 0-87074-463-1)
Correction:The agent on the sale of Prue Leith's Leaving Patrick (Forecasts, Oct. 8) to St. Martin's was Jane Dystel.