character of the novel’s chief protagonist,nMarge Hogan, who is herself thenquintessence of ambivalence. She isnmeant to be regarded, for all her foiblesnand failings, as a noble sort,nwhose tenacious loyalty to the landndeserves our respect. But, looked atnsquarely. Marge Hogan proves to be anremarkably undistinguished humannbeing, and we should not be deceivedninto interpreting her intemperate andnoften indiscriminate bursts of energy asnthe signs of an edifying inner strength.nShe is weak. She is in fact quitenambivalent in her attitude toward thenland. But she is also ambivalent in hernattitude toward her husband, towardnher boyfriend, toward her son, towardnherself. In sum, she is a house divided.nThe novel presents us with her “messagento the world”; expectantly wenaccept it, we open it, and we find tonour disappointment that we are staringnat a blank piece of paper. The MargenHogans of the world are legion, andnthey have nothing to teach us.nTesting the Current, like Leavingnthe Land, is set in the 30’s; but that isnjust about the only point on whichnthey can be profitably compared.nMcPherson’s story is much more controllednand more deliberately shapednthan Unger’s. The story takes placenwithin the bounds of a 12-month periodnin 1938-39 and concerns a youngnboy, Andrew Thomas MacAllister,nwhose fortunes we follow as he makesna passage from his eighth to ninthnyear. Tommy MacAllister belongs to anwealthy, Midwestern family, and innthe persons of his mother and father,n16/CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnBOOKS IN BRIEFnhis two older brothers, his variousnfriends, neighbors, and acquaintances,nhe is surrounded by an array of remarkablynunprosaic human beings. Sonfar, we might say, charming, but nothingnreally extraordinary here. But thenstory is being told to us by youngnTommy MacAllister himself, and that,nin the manner in which McPhersonnbrings it off, is truly extraordinary, antour de force. The boyish voice we hearnthroughout the work is authentic andnconvincing; we feel as if we are seeingnthe world through the eyes of anneight-year-old. McPherson has accomplishednan impressive feat of thenimagination.nThe novel begins with a quotationnfrom Stendhal, to the effect that originalitynand truth are to be found only inndetails — obviously the principlenwhich guided McPherson in his writing.nTesting the Current fairly floats onndetails. Every nook and cranny of thenyoung protagonist’s consciousness isnexamined, sometimes from more thannone perspective. Frankly, as I read onnthrough the novel I kept waiting fornthe whole thing to collapse, for detailsnto begin to cloy and dullness to set in.nBut it never happened. McPhersonnmaintains masterful control over hisnmaterial, and everything that wentninto the story had a purpose and contributednto the intrinsic logic of thennarrative—well, almost everything.nThe one real flaw in the novel is anscene toward the end of the work innwhich a young Black provides Tommynwith a lurid and detailed description ofnan act of sexual intercourse he hadnFree Market Energy: The Way to BeneSt Consumers; edited by S. Fred Singer; Universe/nHeritage; New York; S8.95. Need more gas for cars and more electricity for air conditioners?nSimple, say 12 leading energy authorities: just turn off government regulation and turn onnentrepreneurial initiatie.nThe Rising of the Moon by Gladys Mitchell; St. Martin’s Press; New York. Mitchell was innher day considered a ri’al of Dorothy L. Savers and Agatha Christie. In this classic detectivennovel, first published in 1945, she outdid the competition and raised the thriller to the level ofnliterature.nFore!: The Best of Wodehouse on Golf by P. G. Wodehouse; edited by D. R. Bensen;nTicknor & Fields; New York; $7.95. At his best, Wodehouse was a comic genius. His talentnfor social whimsy is shown to its dottiest advantage on the manicured greens and in thenisolated society of English golf courses.nThe Meaning of More’s ‘Utopia’ by George M. Logan; Princeton University Press. In anserious reexamination of More’s political theory, Logan locates More in the tradition of Platonand Aristode. The Utopia emerges not so much as a work of Christian humanism (much lessnof satire) but as a corrective both to humanism and Vlachiavellian political theory.nnnwitnessed. What is wrong with thisnscene is not simply the crude languagenemployed in it—so jolhngly incongruousnto the language of the novel asna whole. No, what makes the scene sonwrong is its almost totally gratuitousnquality. Not only does the scene notnserve the main purposes of the novel,nbut it actually militates against thosenpurposes. What prompted, I wonder,nthis loss of nerve, this unfortunatenconcession to vulgarity?nAll too many writers—Unger, fornexample—fall back on the expedientsnof sex and violence as an escape fromnthe hard work of character development.nA similar, if less noticeable,ntactic is the depiction of eccentricity,nwhich reveals an incapacity to come tongrips with real people, or even believenin them. The writer avoids the task ofnstriking the mean in developing characters.nIn saying this I do not intend tonimply that he should be striing for ankind of noncommittal blandness, butnrather that he should try to discovernthe complex truth between the extremesnof sanctity and satanism to benfound in the overwhelming majority ofnhuman beings. In choosing eccentricity,nhe chooses distortion. Charactersnare writ large but crooked. The focusedndepiction of eccentricity, raisingneccentricity almost to the level of annorm, amounts to a kind of caricaturenof human nature. Too much of it hasnjust the opposite effect upon readersnfrom what the writer intended. A surfeitnof eccentricity in fiction contributesntowards the creation of a worldnwhose main claim to fame is that it isnsimply bizarre, and bizarre for the sakenof being bizarre. That, after a while,ngets boring.nUnger’s novel is marred by the presencenof too many characters whosenprimary value rests in their eccentricity.nAlso, there is too much violence innthe book which seems calculated tonmeet no other purpose but to titillatenthe reader—a little excitement thrownnin to shr up the lads dozing in the backnrow. These may be only faults which anyoung writer will inevitably outgrow.nAs for McPherson, he is already anpolished craftsman, and for him, one’snhope would be that he not allow himselfnto be enchanted by the siren songnof easy notoriety, that he trust the bestninstincts of his considerable talent, ccn