istic in many respects: everyonenknows, for example, that the animalsnusually appearing as mainncharacters actually live by instinct,nnot the platitudinous moralsnthey inevitably pronounce atnthe story’s end. Despite their patentlynincredible elements, however,nfables endure because theynreflect underlying humannrealities. The very foundation ofnour humanity, our moral consciousness,ncomes into sharpernfocus when it is imaginatively relocatednin beasts. And thoughnthe proverbs underscored by fablesnmay seem unbearably trite,nthey represent an accumulatednfolk wisdom that survives becausenit is firmly rooted in the actualnexperience of many generations.nUnfortunately many modernistsnchoose to sever themselvesnfrom the past generations andnthe lessons they would teach us.nConsequently, in creating thenmodem febles oiNarcissa LouisnAuchincloss leads the reader notnto a reiteration of timewom sawsnbut rather to a “glimpse into thenethical malaise of our century.”nIt is primarily 20th-century NewnYork City that Mr. Auchinclossnhas in view, though, and thereforenthe dustcover declarationnthat his fables “probe the heart ofnmodem American life” seemsndebatable. Even if blood doesnflow more freely on its streetsnthan anywhere else in America,nNew York does not seem otherwisenqualified for designation asnthat particular part of America’snmetaphoric anatomy. Indeed, althoughnMr. Auchincloss’s skillfulndepictions of feckless and misguidednlawyers, artists, businessmen,nand priests are doubdessnaccurate reflections of peoplenactually found in the upper echelonsnof that city, their acutenmoral myopia makes them seemnmore tmly Uke talking beastsnthan any creature ever imaginednby the ancient Greek fabulist.nTherefore most readers in Kansas,nMaine, or Idaho wiU probablynconclude this collection echoingnthe perception of one of Auchincloss’sncharacters: “The wholenthing was too ghastiy to seemnquite real.” (BC) DnThe Inevitability of StructuralnDeclinenClaire Rayner: EverythingnYour Doctor Would Tell YounIf He Had the Time; PerigeenBooks; New York.nThe tyranny of gravity isnsomething that aU humans strivenagainst to no avail. Gravity isnv^^iat causes the numbers on anbathroom scale to roU increasinglynhigher and postures to bendnlower. Were a person to weighnhim or herself on the Moon, notnonly would that person standnmore erectly, but he or she wouldndiscover that the weight totalsnless. Studies in clinics devoted tongerontology are ongoing; the objectivenis to find out why thenhuman body wears out: growsnChronicles of Culturenold. The answer might prove tonbe quite simple. As has beennknown for some 200 years, allnobjects with mass have a gravitationalneffect on all other objectsnwith mass. The most well-knownnexamples of this are Newton’snapple being pulled to the bosomnof Terra and the tides caused bynthe moon. Perhaps the fact that anperson comes into contact withnmore and more objects throughoutnhis days is key. The amountnof stress on the body becomesnmultiplied. As all areas on or innany given body are not as structuraUynsound as others, somentend to give out under the strain.nThere is no escape from objects.nGravity is always with us. It is anno-win situation. Physicians playnspecial roles in aU of this. Notnonly do they have to try to maintainntheir own masses, but theynmust try to help repair or at leastnalleviate breakdowns occurringnin the systems of others. As thennumber of humans proliferatesn(which causes an increasing pullnon others), the doctors becomenmore harried. Questions thatnpatients may have can go unaskednor unanswered because of thatnother great tyrant, time. Ms. Raynernprovides succor throughntext and diagrams. Ultimately, itnisn’t much. But it helps. DnThe Cartoon asnCultural TracenJohn Gardner: Icebreaker;nG. P. Putnam’s Sons; New York.nPurists will never be satisfiednwith John Gardner’s resurrectionnof Ian Fleming’s James Bond.nSimflarly, there was that breednthat thou^t Sean Connery couldnnever be replaced by anyone—nGeorge Lazenby in On Her Majesty’snSecret Service (1969)nseemed to be aU the evidencenone could ever dream of. Still,nRoger Moore has proven himselfnto be a capable Bond, even in thenface of Connery’s return to thenrole. The Bond purists who carefullyncompare Gardner’s threenbooks to Fleming’s novels, alwaysnto the former’s loss, intimate thatnthere is something bordering onnsacrilege in the character’s reappearance—whichnis ridiculous.nJames Bond is now as much anpart of popular culture as DicknTracy and Dagwood. Few becamenindignant when the artists ofnthose strips died and the fiinniesncarried on. This is not to diminishnthe abilities of Chester Gould ornChic Young. It is to say that sometimesnthe character transcendsnthe creator.nJames Bond Mark II is more annnproduct of the cinema than of thenoriginal set of novels. Icebreakerndoesn’t sound as if it was writtennfor the screen; it sounds as if itnwas written because of the portrayalsnof Connery and Moore.nMr. Gardner, in the true Bondntradition, is a stickler for detail.nHis acknowlec^ments and photonon the dust jacket (the latter,n”courtesy of Saab-Scania,” showsnhim astride a snowmobfle presumablynin Finland, the primarynsetting of the novel) indicatenthat he soaked up local color beforengetting to work. There cannbe Utde doubt that Gardner spentntime with Fleming’s books (andnperhaps with Kingsley Amis’snColonel Sun). Similarly, he mustnhave logged many hours in anscreening room: the cadence ofnthe dialogue is scriptlike; onencan im^ine the action as capturednthrough Panaflex lenses.nWhUe the new Bond novelsnare essentially prose cartoons,nGardner’s books do providensomething of value: an inventorynof some of the most notablenproducts and services of the day.nFor example, inlcebreakerBondnstays at the Inter-ContinentalnHotel in Helsinki, reads EricnAmbler novels, drives a Saab 900nTurbo (with certain modifications,nof course), wears insulatednclothing made by Damart, shootsna Heckler & Koch P7, and so on.nPrecise names and an aura ofnquality are essential to the Bondnbooks. Should these books survive—-andngiven the popularitynof James Bond, they probablynwiU: Fleming’s first in the series.nCasino Royale, appeared inn1953—^then they will be a veritablenTut’s tomb for literary archaeologistsnof the next century. Wencan only hope that Bond remainsna true-blue Westerner (he takesnon the Soviets and a neonazi organizationnin Icebreaker withnthe semi-able assistance of thenCIK and the very able help ofnSUPO, the Finnish Intelligencenand Security Agency) and thatnhe retains his impeccable taste. Dn