opera singer, her fortuitous secondnmarriage to an older man with a young.nson, and brings us into the climacticnevent of the novel—Lisa’s incarcerationnin a nazi concentration camp and herndeath and that of her son. The novel’snnarrative technique shifts again in thenfinal section, this time giving us fantasynand imagism interwoven into Lisa’snreturn to the white hotel, her reunionnwith her dead mother, the healing ofnall childhood wounds in an act of forgivenessnand love, and Lisa’s final transcendencenof death, presumably into thenstate of divine grace commonly associatednwith heaven.nWne cannot fault D. M. Thomas fornhis style in The White Hotel, nor fornthe novel’s structure. It is as complexna narrative as has been witnessed inncontemporary fiction in a long while.nPresumably, however, a novel is annorganic entity, with its sets and subsetsnmelding together into a dimensionnof artistic unity. Yet, for all the brilliancenof Thomas’s narrative, one cannlegitimately wonder what this book isnall about, or, more precisely, why thenelements of this novel are placed togethernin the way that they are. Thennovel most definitely breaks into twonparts: the psychoanalytic mystery of anyoung woman’s libidinous obsession,nand the tale of an ordinary woman’snlife, culminating in the novel’s mostnpoignant section—the torture death ofnLisa Erdman as one more casualty ofnhuman brutality. The two parts, however,nseem not to fuse, and one wondersnwhat the elucidation of Lisa’s psychenhas to do with the later events of hernlife, how her childhood traumas arenessential to the story Thomas wishesnto tell of history and massive humannsuffering amidst and within the contextnof everyday, simple lives. Neither isnThe White Hotel helped by the factnthat the first part of the novel is farnmore interesting than the second. Lisa’sndeath is the most poignant aspect ofnthe novel, but it is set amidst somenrather rambling and relatively dull ren32inChronicles of Culturencountings of her life in Germany as anwife and stepmother. In comparisonnwith the unusually imaginative start ofnThe White Hotel, the second part seemsnto falter. What the final section of thennovel endeavors to elucidate is anyone’snguess; the book is not cohesive enoughnto suggest what Lisa’s transcendence intonheaven may mean, given the story’s precedingnstructure. Thomas’s novel seemsnlike an elaborately wrapped packagenwhich, once opened, reveals a jumble ofnpretty and intriguing items that neverncome together into any significant pattern.nThis is indeed unfortunate, fornThomas seems to be a writer of greatncreative gift and craft who, if he had hadna finer sense of his subject or theme,nmight have produced a work ofnmagnitude.nWh ile The White Hotel seems unablento express ,its theme clearly andnprecisely, “William Wharton’s Dad is anmodel of the realistic novel in its abilitynto present a description of an ordinarynlife and its ordinary details. Stylistically,nDad is simple and unpretentious, quitenthe contrary of The White Hotel. Itsnmessage is clear and its theme is gentlynand easily presented. The story is thatnof a son’s relationship to his father atna time when the father is critically illnand undergoing all the traumas of sen­nIn the Mailnility and old age. It is also the story ofnthat son’s relationship to his son andnhow the two perceive the older man’snsufferings as related to their lives andnwhatever personal meaning and fulfillmentnthey may wish to find in life.nIt is unfortunate that the very meritsnwhich make Dad a poignant novel willnkeep it from attaining much successnwith literary critics. The White Hotel,nwith all its vast and puffed-up symbolism,nis far more likely to receive criticalnpraise among elitists than is Dad. Dadnpresents its message clearly and movingly,nthere is very little in Dad thatnrequires extensive explication or analysis.nThus, contemporary critics are likelynto overvalue The WhiteHoteland undervaluenDaii simply because, since the daysnof James Joyce, any novel worth its saltnmust beheavily and contortedly symbolicnand abstruse to win the praise of the literarynestablishment. It is indeed unfortunatento see the attempt to reflect on man’snimmediate reality so strongly undervaluednin our era, for realism has thenpower to reveal profound truths in thensimple actions of everyday life. Whilenit is not likely to garner high criticalnpraise. Dad is far more significant thannThe White Hotel, if only because of itsnpower to engage the reader in the worldnof its protagonists and their sufferings,nnnShakespeare as^P&litical Thinker edited by John Alvis and Thomas G. West;nCarolina Academic Press; Durham, North Carolina. A collection of essays whichnconsider the political thought of Shakespeare as evidenced in his plays.nPrairie Winds by George W. Dirreen; Vantage Press; New York. An hi istoricalnnovel based on the lives of the pioneers who’first settled the Midwest.nChurch Authority and Intellectual Freedom by Christopher Derrick; IgnatiusnPress; San Francisco. An analysis of the apparent coWlict between Vatican authoritynand Catholic intellectual freedom.nTombstone by William Hattich; University of Oklahoma Press; Norman, Oklahoma.nA tribute to the historical significance of the town of Tombstone, Arizona, originallynpublished in 1903; reissued in the sam”e format with original photographs and anforeword by John D. Gilchriese.nnn