actually fits neatly a politics of selfindulgentnfantasy in which even revolutionn(or, more precisely, revolutionarynattitudinizing) forms but another marknof one’s supposedly superior sensibility.nIn the Wink of an Eye presupposes thenmind-set, so common in academia, thatnjust knows that the United States is corrupt,nthat leftist terrorists are fundamentallynon the side of right, and similarnaxioms of the higher political sagacity.nReaders beguiled by such visions of thenworld may find the book amusing rathernthan inane. Others, who expect politicsnand political fiction (however comic) tonhave some grounding in reality, are likelynto find the novel pointless and unfiannynthroughout.nRevolution is the ostensible subject ofnthis novel in which copious citationsnfi”om Che Guevara are the author’s ideanof how to endow cardboard figures withnsome of the solidity decent fiction requires.nIn a plot filled with bizarre, hecticntwists, amiable Bolivian radicals use theirnprofits from robbing—or “liberating”—nbanks first to buy a small section of theirncountry, then (profiting hugely from petroleumndeposits) to annex Bolivia and,nin time. South America. In a reversal ofnthe “Good Neighbor Policy,” they evennbail the United States out of impendingnfinancial catastrophe. All goes splendidlynuntil the real establishment, the powernbehind all thrones (even behind thenKremlin!)—the Mafia—cracks down. Thennoble little band then must find a new paradise,none literally and appropriatelynout of this world. The whole work hasnthe zany turns of Vonnegut’s comicbooknnovels, but it lacks even the imaginativenenergy infusing some of his betternsituations.nReal revolution is not the true subjectnof this exercise in armchair radical posturing.nRevolutionary politics is clearlynsecondary to private sexual fiilfillment.nTwo characters in particular illustratenthat for Kelly Cherry radical politics isnbut theater of the self One—18, “pro artnand litde else”—discovers her cause:n”playing, in real life, Joan of Arc … anmodem version,” she will lead a generalnstrike against everything. At this the authornsmiles indulgently, inviting readersnto accept the character not as a potentiallyndangerous airhead but as a charmingnwaif. The girl is “[n]aturally… antiinflation,nanti-Thatcher, anti-Nuke, andnanti-American,” so her heart is in the rightnplace. Naturally. Most admirable of all isnthe ultra-autonomous character whonsmokes cigars and sculpts in metal firomnher loft in the Bowery. Since radicalismnis but a pose, the outcome of the revolutionnis unimportant; each member of thenlittle band acquires an appropriate sexualnpartner, and we have the perfectn”happy ending” to a consummate novelnfor the decade of self-fiilfillment wherenthe only true comedy lies in unintentionalnself-satire.nMuch can be learned fl-om the endingsnof these three books. McClanahan’snThe Natural Man closes on a note ofncontinuity, a legacy from Motik McHorningnwhich knits together past, present,nand future. Fisher’s Hornpipe dwindlesnOf Jewish Humans & ItaliannHumanoidsnAlberto Moravia: 1934; Farrar, Strausn& Giroux; New York.nAharon i^ppelfeld: Tzili; E. P. Duttoti;nNewYork.nby Bryce Christensennl^harles Darwin wrote no novels,nthough he wrote a great deal of fiction,nnone of it good. In The Descent of Mannhe argued not only for the scientificnprinciple of natural selection, but for annimaginative vision defiining man’s placenin the world as simply that of an animal.nBelieving that he had discovered amongnthe simpler creatures analogs for all ofnMr Christensen is assistant editor for thenChronicles.nnnto a stop as the title character and hisncreator do not know where to turn fromnthe shallowness they perceive. In thenWink of an Eye ends with the pseudorevolutionariesnheading into space—^likenthe book, totally weighdess in a self-madenlittle world cut loose from earth’s reality.nOne could hardly ask for a betternsymbol than this—all the more perfectnfor being unwitting—of the smug moralnsolipsism infecting many of America’s “intellectuals.”n(Unsurprisingly, Kelly Cherrynis “Permanent Writer-in-Residence” at anbig-name university.) No wonder, then,n”serious” fiction seems divorced fromnmuch of life or must turn to the past andna provincial setting to escape the enervatingnforce of the abstractions and doctrinairenposes that blunt Fisher’s Hornpipenand make In the Wink of an Eye anparody of itself.nThere is, perhaps, a remedy for thisnsort of coterie fiction—skilled but imitative,nhothouse, and academic. It beginsnwith Dr. Johnson’s sturdy advice: “Clearnyour mind of cant.” Dnman’s most complex intellectual, emotional,nreligious, and moral activities,nDarwin asserted that no absolute metaphysical,nontological, or spiritual gulfnseparated a man from a dog, an insect,nor—^for that matter—^from inanimatenmatter. As one of his critics put it, his wasnthe Medusa myth in reverse: he turnednstones into men. This was, of course, notnscience, as the codiscoverer of naturalnselection, Alfred Wallace, pointed out,nbut merely speculative philosophizing—nimplausible, unsatisfying philosophizingnat that, in Wallace’s view. The humannmind and spirit, Wallace maintained, arenutterly unique and cannot be explainednby any strictly naturalistic evolutionarynschemata. Unfortunately, cultural forcesnmore powerful than Wallace prevailed:nDarwin’s fiction triumphed as dogma.niii^SillnOctober 1983n