reminds American Christians of theirnneed to discover a true humihty, thatnOriginal Sin makes people equal, andnthat the real enemy in life is not “anothernnation, race, or class,” but “one’snown sin.” The final lesson of his experiencesnand reflections is that the realn”solution to decadence” is “authenticnChristian faith.” But Vree assumes anconnection between socialism andnChristianity, as though Christianitynalone were incomplete. Vree’s assumptionndamages his analysis; ccnBrent Chesley is a doctoral candidatenin English at the University of NotrenDame.nLaboriousnHedonismn321 CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnPerry Pascarella: The New Achievers:nCreating a Modern Work Ethic; ThenFree Press; New York.nhi America, speaking out against worknwas once like saying nasty things aboutnmotherhood. Even now that attacks onnmotherhood have become common.nPerry Pascarella makes it clear in ThenNew Achievers that work is still sacred tonthe yuppie mentality. No longer, however,nis work the spiritual exercise it wasnin Calvinism; restraining the corruptndesires of a fallen nature is not the aim.nRather, the ambitious computer programmernnow must drive himself hardnso he can buy a new BMW. It’s hightechnmaterialism.nPascarella trys hard to transform airconditionednoffice buildings into cathedralsnfor the new creed expounded bynsuch authorities as Taoist/physicistnFritjof Capra and theologian HansnKiing. But the prose style is as suspectnas the new faith:nThe manager’s ability toncontribute to humanndevelopment and create viablenorganizations in today’s valuesnenvironment will depend onntwo things that are far morenimportant than the technicalnskills he or she may have. Firstnis the matter of what thenmanager believes—what his ornher worldview is. Second is thendegree to which the managernwill employ a managementnstyle that expresses these beliefs.nThe reader cannot but wonder aboutnpeople like John DeLorean, whose engineeringnexpertise was divorced fromnany coherent sense of moral obligation.nThe possibility that hoards of businesssuitednmen and women will follow innhis erratic footsteps is disturbing. (CSV)nWet Cementnby Brian MurraynIain Banks: The Wasp Factory;nHoughton Mifflin; Boston.nIain Banks’s first novel invites comparisonnwith the work of Ian McEwan.nDuring the mid-1970’s, McEwannbegan to establish himself as one ofnBritain’s most successful writers of fiction.nFirst Love, Last Rites—his firstncollection of short stories—sold unusuallynwell and won the prestigious SomersetnMaugham Award. The CementnGarden, his first novel, was widely andnon the whole very favorably reviewednon both sides of the Atlantic. McEwan,nobserved the critics, employs prose thatnis vivid and remarkably controlled; henconstructs plots that are as riveting asnthey are tightly constructed.nStill, some critics have admitted tonbeing puzzled by McEwan’s frequentndepiction of unpleasant charactersncaught in unsavory situations, and bynhis apparent preoccupation with manynof those bodily details that polite peoplenavoid mentioning in mixed groups atnsupper parties. They point, for example,nto The Cement Garden, in whichnfour school-age siblings quietly buryntheir widowed mother in a trunk in thencellar and, left to themselves, grownincreasingly filthy and weird. Thesenchildren, suggested the American novelistnAnne Tyler, are “so consistentlynunpleasant, unlikeable and bitter thatnwe can’t believe in them, and we certainlyncan’t identify with them.”nBut the ghastliness in McEwan’s fictionnis not often gratuitous. Like WilliamnGolding before him, McEwan is anserious, unusually gifted artist whosenuse of the disgusting and the bizarrenhelps him reveal the thin margin thatnseparates civilization from chaos, andnthe human from the brutish. SurelynMcEwan does not want us to “identify”nwith his characters as much as he wantsnus to recognize them as perhaps onlynslightly exaggerated representatives ofnBritain’s lower and middle classes duringna period of profound socialndiscontinuity—a period in which thenwide collapse of traditional behavioralnguidelines has been accompanied bynthe steady rise of a youth subculturenthat loudly promotes the notion thatnman’s main purpose in life is to pursuennnpleasure, however mindless or fleeting.nIain Banks’s first novel. The WaspnFactory, is set against a rather drearynScottish landscape and features charactersnwho would not look out of place inna volume of McEwan’s stories. FranknCauldhame, its narrator, is a tubbyn17-year-old who once carefully plottednthe deaths of a couple of his relatives,nand who now amuses himself by torturingninsects and strangling hares. Frank’snolder brother Eric is an escapee from anpsychiatric hospital, who enjoys settingnfire to dogs. The father of this charmingnpair is a demented biochemist who hasnwritten a book arguing that the earth isna Mobius strip, not a sphere.nLike McEwan, Banks clearly wantsnhis readers to ponder again the uncomfortablenfact that human beings —nparticularly males—are eminently capablenof committing the most repulsivencrimes. And like McEwan, he appearsnto be interested in the continuing ramificationsnof what in this country used tonbe called “the generation gap.” In ThenWasp Factory, as in many of McEwan’snpieces, adolescents are shown taking anneasy retreat into a solipsistic void wherenadults are simply assumed to be superfluousndolts, and where older culturalnmores have not the slightest bearing.nUnfortunately, Banks is not yet thenwriter that McEwan is. The Wasp Factoryndrags badly at times and includesnsome transitions—and a “surprise”nconclusion—that are simply clunky.nBanks also appears to be uncertain ofnhis tone. The Wasp Factory thus oddlyncombines a Roald Dahl-like drollerynwith the sort of forced scatological jocositynthat one finds in frat houses andnthe National Lampoon. Though ThenWasp Factory is occasionally arrestingnand largely well-intentioned, it certainlynis not—despite its publisher’s claimsn—another Lord of f/ie F/ies. ccnBrian Murray is professor of Englishnat Youngstown State University.nWorms in the BignApplenby David VicinanzonKaren Gerard: American Survivors:nCities and Other Scenes; HarcourtnBrace Jovanovich; San Diego.nThe title of this book is misleading.nKaren Gerard’s subject is one city. NewnYork, and the “scenes” she discusses arenrandom sketches of New York’s political,neconomic, and cultural life. Ge-n