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    New and recommended

    Al Capp: A Life to the ContraryBy Michael Schumacher and Denis Kitchen (Bloomsbury, $30)

    Richly told biography traces the complex, troubled life of the creator of the

    “Li’l Abner’’ comic strip.


    BenedictionBy Kent Haruf (Knopf, $25.95)

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    Haruf’s latest novel set in a small Colorado town takes a spiritual turn to look
    at death and dying.

    The Fall of Stone City By Ismail Kadare (Grove, $23)

    In the Balkans, a darkly comic, hallucinatory tale of the intertwined forces

    of tyranny and madness.