Category: Web

Home Web
Playing by Perverted Rules
Post

Playing by Perverted Rules

Lobbying for Freedom in the 1980’s: A Grass-Roots Guide to Protecting Your Rights; Edited by Kenneth P. Norwick; Wideview/Perigee; New York. Susan J. Tolchin and Martin Tolchin: Dismantling America: The Rush to Deregulate; Houghton Mifflin; Boston. What is freedom? To the ancient Greeks, freedom existed in the margins: it was that vacuum of authority between...

Finer Fleet of Clay
Post

Finer Fleet of Clay

Bernard Malamud: The Stories of Bernard Malamud; Farrar, Straus & Giroux; New York. Isaac Bashevis Singer: The Penitent; Farrar, Straus & Giroux; New York. Morality is religion’s province. Contemporary secularists do not see this, averting their eyes from the religious sources of their own moralities. Such aversion makes a kind of sense; deprived of any...

Post

Solipsism, Genius & Madness

Edward Albee: An Interview and Essay; Edited by Julian N. Wasserman; University of St. Thomas; Houston, TX. Vladimir Nabokov: Lectures on Don Quixote; Edited by Fredson Bowers; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; San Diego. We often hear that language is under siege in America today, that it is being assailed on all sides by people who, either...

Fiction for a Flat Earth
Post

Fiction for a Flat Earth

Françoise Sagan The Painted Lady; E.P. Dutton; New York. St. Cyril of Jerusalem is reported to have told his catechumens that “The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon.”...

Post

Traveling in Spiraling Circles

Harrison E. Salisbury: A Journey for Our Times: A Memoir; Harper & Row; New York. A Journey for Our Times is a frustrating, almost schizophrenic book. One approaches it with anticipation if only because the author is an experienced journalist with a unique fund of knowledge about the Soviet Union. But ultimately, Salisbury manages to...

Post

Transcendence of Mere Opinion

Thomas Mann: Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man; Frederick Ungar; New York. The true artist living in a time dominated by politics finds himself traversing a path that is both arduous and dangerous. He begins with a search that is committed to life rather than to just the intellect; that search is replete with ambiguity and...

Horrors & Hope
Post

Horrors & Hope

Paul Johnson: Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Eighties; Harper & Row; New York. Impresario Sergei Diaghilev of the Ballet Russe rose to give his address. The year was 1905. “We are witnesses to the greatest moment of summing-up in history,” he declared: in the name of a new and unknown culture,...

Myths, Visions, Passions
Post

Myths, Visions, Passions

Martin Seymour-Smith: Robert Graves: His Life and Work; Holt, Rinehart & Winston; New York. Douglas Archibald: Yeats; Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, NY. Although the era of “High Modernism” is well in the past, the pantheon of modern literature still seems to many a palace of confusions. The paradoxes and contradictions, the conflicting impulses that informed...

Post

Beyond the Public View

Tadeusz Konwicki: A Minor Apocalypse; Translated by Richard Lourie; Farrar, Straus & Giroux; New York. Contemporary Poland, for many reasons, disquiets the West. To those who nurture visions of a painless and peaceful accord between the Soviets and the United States against the supposed “common enemy” of nuclear weapons, the squashing of Solidarity to placate...

Post

Small is Significant

Walter Walker: A Dime to Dance By; Harper & Row; New York. Geoffrey Norman: Midnight Water; E.P. Dutton; New York. Existence — which is all there is, to answer Peggy Lee — consists of little things: there was only one Big Bang, and should there be another, none will be around to record it. Toe...

Post

Eviscerating the Heartland

Gore Vidal; Duluth; Random House; New York. Gore Vidal has spawned another repulsive novel. Having experimented with historical travesty (Burr, Julian, 1876) and fag chic (Myra Breckinridge), Vidal has turned his fictional abilities to the world of soap operas and drugstore gothic novels. He has not risen above his material. Even the publishers do not...

Liberal Worship and Conservative Judgment
Post

Liberal Worship and Conservative Judgment

Joyce Carol Oates: The Profane Art: Essays and Reviews; E. P. Dutton; New York. Kenneth S. Lynn: The Air-Line to Seattle: Studies in Literary and Historical Writing about America; The University of Chicago Press; Chicago. Beyond any reasonable doubt, Matthew Arnold knew far more than did Samuel Johnson. Curiously, however, he was far less confident...

Before the Borscht Belt — and Beyond
Post

Before the Borscht Belt — and Beyond

The Literary Humor of the Urban Northeast, 1830-1890; Edited by David E. E. Sloane; Louisiana State University Press; Baton Rouge. Chicago’s Public Wits; Edited by Kenny J. Williams and Bernard Duffey; Louisiana State University Press; Baton Rouge. It is a commonplace that humor arises from the amused recognition of the dis­parity between the ideal and...