PerceptiblesnPhilip F. Lawler: Coughing innInk: The Demise of AcademicnIdeals; University Press of America;nWashington, DCnThe festest-growing healthnproblem in America is not herpes.nRather, it is a condition that manifestsnitself in wide eyes and slacknjaws: astonishment. (It also cannbe used to explain why P. T. Barnumnwas such a smashing success.)nRecent reports indicatingnthat the American educationalnsystem is zooming down thentubes have been the cause of astonishmentnof late. Mr. Lawler,nwith wit and perception, detailsnthe state of aSsais that has led tonthe educational mishmash. QnJXM. Stewarts ViOainFrance;nW. W. Norton; New York.nIn the opening p^es of A Villanin France, a secondary figure offersnan analysis of two centralncharacters based on what he’snseen of their tennis play. That hisnperceptions prove accurate isnhardly surprising: John McEnroenis not the only one who revealsnaspects of personality throughnsf)orts behavior. But games arenstill games. Because their rulesnare arbitrarily contrived andntheir objectives of no inherentnconsequence, they cannot engagenthe deeper faculties of the mindnor heart. And though adroitlynperformed, A Villa in France is angame.nMr. Stewart, who writes detectivenstories under the name ofnMichael Innes, develops his plotnand its resolution skillfijlly, managingna passable forearm smashnin the conclusion. Moreover, hencan pull off a volley of literary allusionsndeftly. But for exploringnthe human coixlition, Mr. Stewart’snauthorial jjerspective does notnseem superior to a seat in courtsidenbleachers. True, one of hisncharacters converts to RomannCatholicism and spends his lifenexploring philosophy. However,nsince neither Kierkegaard nornAquinas can be assessed on thenbasis of racket technique, Mr.nStewart apparendy prefers tonkeep his attention diverted else­nwhere—on the free-swinging bisexualitynof one of his characters,nfor instance. After depicting hisnCatholic sage in a disparagingnlight, he expediendy kiUs him offnin a train accident without anynserious imaginative contact withnthe problems of feith, evil, or regeneration.nA reader of EvelynnWaugh or Walker Percy is likelynto cry, “Fault!” Indeed, thoughnMr. Stewart takes love as one ofnhis themes, the reader may wellnconclude thinking of it as a tennisnscore. nnShari and Bernard BenstodcnWho’s He When He’s atnHome: A James Joyce Directory;nUniversity of Illinois Press; Champaign,nILnFew writers—and none with angreater stature—were or are asnblatandy smug as James Joycenwas. While modesty is, of course,na virtue to be commended tonmost, excessive pride resulted Innvalue in Joyce’s case. Joyce, itnmust be stressed, was not allnbluster and no backbone; althoughnhe never explicitlynclaimed that he knew eterjthing,nthere is evidence that he, singularlynor through his deputies,ntried to become familiar withnmost things, from atoms (ornAdam) to Zoroaster (or zygotes).nThus, those wishing to come tonterms with Joyce (all but FinnegansnWake, that is, as it is impossiblento come to terms with it)nmust do some homework. Therenare several trots to choose from.nThe Benstocks’ book, now availablenin a handy paperback (easiernto juggle along with Ulysses andna pencil) is one that should be innthe stable of serious Joyceans. DnCree McCree: Flea MarketnAmerica; John Mulr Publications;nSanta Fe, NM.nThe earliest systems of exchangenwere based on bartering.nAs the coining of money becamennearly universal, the practicen&ded in all but primitive societies.nLater, some speculated that thenpassion for plastic (i.e., creditncards) would soon render obsoletengrubby cash. So far it hasn’t.nOne reason for the Mure of plasticnto reign supreme is the prevalencenof “nonofficial” buyingnhabits in the American public.nWhen the economy boomednand the use of plastic was at itsnzenith, most people made thefrnpurchases in commercial establishments—thatnis, stores—whichnwere equipped to process plasticnand collect sales taxes. When theneconomy began to sag, bothncommercial sales and the use ofnplastic dropped. There was onenarea, however, whose vitalitynblossomed in dfrect proportionnto the commercial establishments’nshrink^e. It might bennncalled the “other” market. Thisnmarket eliminates both inflationarynprices and sales taxes.nComprised primarily of gar^ensales and flea markets, it has longnexisted, but became ubiquitousnonly when people could nonlonger maintain the “style tonwhich they had become accustomed”nin the face of spiralingncosts and ever-widening unemployment.nThe author of FleanMarket America is a “professionalnflea,” thus the book is also a sortnof guide to selling as well as buyingnsecond-hand goods. It includesnan index of major fleanmarkets around the U5. and offersnadvice on all aspects of gan^ensales. The subtitie is “A BargainnHunter’s Guide.” It is. DnKay Nolte Smith: Mindspell;nWilliam Morrow; New York.nSummertime reading is a specialngenre. Comprised primarilynof &st-paced fiction, it is perenniallynin competition with thenmyriad other activities available.nFor those whose “summertimenreading” extends well beyondnthe perimeter dictated by thencalendar, its lure must also defeatnthe temptations offered by annew season of TV programmingnor professional football.nMindspell is engaging summertimenreading. It centers aroundnthe scientific drama of geneticnengineering and the psychologicalndrama of witchcraft and reincarnationnWhat makes Mindspellnsomewhat unusual is that Mrs.nSmith has for her protagonist anwoman who is neither a feministnnor a downtrodden wretch; shenis also a moral but unabashedncapitalist. Tlie obligatory love interestnis included, of course, butntastefully. Much of the twaddlenthat is presented as contemporarynfiction often seems fit only tonfiiel the charcoal grill or the fireplace.nGiven the presence of andecendy written plot and the ab-nnioweiiilierl983n