THE WAL-MART EFFECT. So long as I'm talking books, I've been trying for days now to figure out how to recommend Charles Fishman's The Wal-Mart Effect, which is by far the most important, enlightening, and judicious examination of the new economy I've yet seen. Since all I've got for the tome is unadulterated, schoolgirl-like praise, a review wouldn't quite have worked, so I'm just going to shoehorn it in here. If you're at all interested in the subject, Fishman's book is among the top two or three I've ever read on a contemporary issue (the others, if you're interested, being Jason DeParle's American Dream and Thomas Geoghegan's Which Side Are You On?). It's masterfully written, deeply reported, and thoroughly analyzed: You'll close the last page thinking differently than when you opened the first, which is about the highest praise I can offer a book. Give it a look.