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DECEMBER 8

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Autobiography of a Family Photo, a melancholy novel narrated by an unnamed African-American girl, has a sadly common subject—dead-end lives in a lower-class Brooklyn neighborhood, as recalled by someone who escaped. In brutally candid vignettes dating from 1966 through 1979, this adolescent introduces her transvestite eldest brother, who never returns from Vietnam; her remaining siblings, constantly at odds; and her father, who “slipped off” because his wife was unfaithful. A photograph that’s missing two family members serves as the book’s grim centerpiece. Author Jacqueline Woodson covers familiar ground, but creates a sympathetic main character who’s bluntly honest about her seemingly hopeless environment and dangerously naive about sex. Woodson reads at 7 p.m. at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Ave. NW. $8. For reservations call (202) 783-7370. (Nathalie op de Beeck)