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Fiction writer J. California Cooper calls herself “a semi-recluse,” but she has ventured out of her East Texas home to promote her second novel, In Search of Satisfaction, a family saga about the decades following the Civil War. Populated by slaves’ descendants, venal landowners, misfits of every stripe, and Satan himself, Satisfaction is quintessentially Southern; though it ends happily enough, it’s marked by calamity. Cooper, who won the American Book Award in 1989 for her short story collection Homemade Love, demonstrates a practiced ear for Southern dialects, and if her pacing is at times erratic, her work’s cumulative effect is powerful. She reads at 12:30 p.m. at Reprint Books, 455 L’Enfant Plaza SW. (202) 554-5070; and at 6 p.m. at Vertigo Books, 1337 Connecticut Ave. NW. (202) 429-9272. (Kate Brewster)