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The journalists, politicos, and barflies who inhabit Texas Monthly writer-at-large KAREN OLSSON’s first novel, WATERLOO (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), could have strolled right off the streets of Austin, real-world counterpart to the title’s fictional Texas capital. This wonderfully observed tale traces the personal and professional struggles of Waterloo Weekly reporter Nick Lasseter bracketed by the double-edged dealings of his lobbyist uncle, Bones, and the backroom bloodying of freshman assemblywoman Beverly Flintic. Olsson’s voice is pure pleasure, such as her take on Waterloo’s legislators and musicians, two populations “united in their desires not to have to work too hard…and to drink beer paid for by somebody else.” She has leaped onto the literary scene fully formed and spun a worldly, golden novel from a parochial pile of straw.