Book critic Maureen Corrigan on the year's best books (that she's read): "Cold Mountain" by Charles Frazier; "Matters of Chance" by Jeannette Haien; the reprint "Independent People" by Haldor Laxness; the short stories "Publish and Perish" by James Hynes, "Lives of the Monster Dogs" by Kirsten Bakis; for non-fiction: "Big Trouble" by J. Anthony Lukas; "Halfway Heaven" by Melanie Thernstrom; "The Gay Metropolis" by Charles Kaiser; volume 2 of "W.B. Yeats" a biography by R.F.
Commentator Maureen Corrigan reviews The Real Thing, by Miles Orvell. Corrigan says the book is one of those works that attempts to explain just about everything in terms of one theory. Orwell's theory is that American culture has been driven by the tension between imitation and the desire for authenticity.