use the books as a means to becomena demi-Julia Child or annupdated Don Juan, but they arenrare). How to be Your OwnnLiterary Agent is a handy, thoroughnbook that panders to readersn•who are would-be ^vriters,nthough it could be a tool for thenWASTE OF MONEYnPotty Training in PrintnRichard Price: The Breaks;nSimon & Schuster; New York.nby Allen BrodskynThe most striking feature ofnthis highly acclaimed new novelnby a highly regarded young authornis its baseness: both thendialogue and first-person narrationnare extraordinarily vulgar.nThe author’s excuse for this isnrealist intentions: his charactersnare inner-city people, often poornand poorly educated, that is,npeople whose speech may bensprinkled with profanity. Thatnnot all people from this kind ofnbackground talk this way is notnapparent from Richard Price’snfiction. Besides being unpleasantnand offensive, the vulgarity isnoften gratuitous and exa^erated;nthe dialogue irequendy soundsnjust false. More important, thenvulgarity serves no literary purpose:nit reveals nothing aboutnthe characters that could not benbetter expressed otherwise, norndoes it surest any theme. Muchnof this vulgarity is meant to benfijnny (the narrator has an ambitionnto become a professionalncomic). Unfortunately, althoughnthe novel provides one or twonlaughs, the language and crude-nMr. Brodsky operates BrodskynCommunication Training innPhiladelphianbona fide practitioners whonwork to make it. Speculating, ofncourse, is easier. Imagine: a writeupnin xhcNew York Times BooknReview … a fight for paperbacknrights . . . Elaine’s . . . the PolonLounge… Meryl Streep… ClintnEastwood… •nness generally fail even as himior.nLack of self-discipline andnvagueness of ambition typifynPrice’s characters, but he offersnno ironic perspective on thein.nWhen the novel opens, the narrator,nbom in the Bronx, raisednin Yonkers, and the first collegengraduate in his family, has justngraduated from a fictional schoolnobviously modeled on Price’snalma mater, Cornell. Placed onnColumbia Law School’s waitingnlist, he moves back into hisnfather’s Yonkers apartment tonwork for a year before reapplying.nWhile visiting with a collegenfriend in a Columbia Law Schoolnstudent lounge, he decides againstnlaw school and abandons hisnplanned future as a lawyer fornrather frivolous reasons: hendoesn’t like his friend’s new lawschoolnmanner and he doesn’tnlike the looks of the lounge ornthe students.nA competent novelist can usena first-person narrative to revealnthe depths and richness of a complexnprotagonist’s inner life, butnall Price’s first-person narrativenreveals is the young man’s superficiality,nhis unjustified antagonismntoward his college friends,nhis sexism, and his racism. Thennarrator describes women primarilynby their sexual characteristicsnand relies on stereotypesnto describe minorities (“a hot littlenchickie, a gymnastic-thighednsweet sixteen,” “A Chinaman…nstarted How Dow Cow Yowingninto the receiver”). It is surprisingnthat reviewers have not criticizednPrice’s work for this. Perhapsnstereotyping is acceptablenif it is supposed to be humorousnor realistic. Unfortunately, Price’sn”realism” results in stereotypesnof the lowest order. And hisnnarrator-protagonist is so selfcentered—henisolates himselfnfrom his family and friends andnignores his religion and culmren—that he has nothing to offer tonanyone in the novel or to anyonenwho reads it. There is Mttie valuento a novel’s representing in unrestrainedndetail an ethnic group’snsupposed manner of talking andnbehaving if that novel does notnprovide some greater perspectivenon its characters than theynhaVe of themselves. Because ThenBreaks lacks such perspective,ndisplaying instead an extremelynlimited view of people and ofnstorytelling, it is an ugly book DnGoodbye, AlreadynErnest Lehman: FarewellnPerformance; McGraw-HUi; NewnYork.nbyKathiWaitenA prime source of informationnabout an author can be found onnthe dustcover of his book;nthrough his accomplishmentsnlisted there, he hopes to earn thenadmiration of his readers. Afternone reads Farewell P&formance,nhowever, the brief biography ofnErnest Lehman serves only tonleave the reader confused, if notndisgusted.nFarewell Performance mightnbe called a “modem-day” lovenstory. It involves identical twinnbrothers who despise each otherntoo much to feel any love; anynMrs. Watte is on the staff of ThenRockford Institute.nnnfeeling either of them has fornanother person can only be describednas bestial lust. Also includednin this fairy-tale romancenare a whore, an undiscriminatingnhomosexual, a felon, and a lushnwho murders her lover in a jealousnrage. The sex is so graphicallyndetailed that one would benembarrassed to read it in a lockednroom; the language goes beyondnthe offensive. Add to these a shallownstory line. The sum of thesenparts is an X-rated bomb.nThe dustcover reminds usnthat Mr. Lehman is a six-timenAcademy Award nominee, thenwinner of more Best ScreenplaynAwards from the Writer’s Guildnof America than any other writernin the Guild’s history, and thenscreenwriter for The Sound ofnMusic, West Side Story, and ThenKing and I. The juxtaposition ofnthese accomplishments withnwhat lies between the covers ofnthe book transforms his novelninto either a study in schizophrenianor a proof of debased conformism,noften called the call ofnthe market. DnOf Sacraments &nSuicidenCees Nooteboom: Rituals;nLouisiana State University Press; BatonnRouge.nThe question of meaning isnfinally a question of pattern. If nonpattern exists “above” the flux ofnthe temporal universe, then stablenmeaning is impossible and allnhuman choices are finally andnequally absurd. If, on the othernhand, notions such as good andnevil derive firom an immovablenontological pattern, as the Judeo-nChristian tradition teaches, thennevery man’s behavior has vaUdnmeaning insofar as he makes itnconsonant with that pattern. Innthe solemnity of religious ritual,nmankind affirms his faith in andn^iiii43nJune 1983n