W ritten in English and set in NewnYork City, Manuel Puig’s Eternal Cursenon the Reader of These Pages is scarcelynrepresentative of Latin American fiction.nThe story, told exclusively in dialogue,nbrings into intimate relationship an74-year-old Argentine and a 36-year-oldnAmerican. Ramirez, exiled from Argentinanfor political reasons, has beennbrought to the United States by anhuman-rights group and is an invalid in anGreenwich Village hospital. He apparentlynhas forgotten his past and lost hisncapacity for certain emotional responses.nLarry, with a Ph.D. in history and an atuactionnto Freudian and Marxian theory,nhas made a mess of his life. Divorced,nunemployed, living in a filthy apartmentnin the Village, he accepts the job ofnpushing Mr. Ramirez’s wheelchair. A situationnof mutual dependence develops.nRamirez, with an obsessive hunger fornvicarious experience, pumps and manipulatesnLarry until the younger man objects:n”Sometimes I feel like you’re tryingnto suck the life out of me.” Larry, besidesnneeding the job, discovers coded in thenold man’s books a prison journal (thenfirst words of which provide the novel’sntitle). Editing this document would furthernhis academic career.nThe relationship is complicated bynpride, guilt, and deceit, and the conversationsnbecome a complex of father-sonnrelationships, indeed, of family relationships.nIt is compelling reading, butnultimately bewildering. It is difficult tonknow when the conversations are realnand when they take place in the oldnman’s mind. Both men make assertions,ndeny them, and later reaffirm them.nEach is uncertain of when the other isntelling the truth, and since the novel isnexclusively dialogue, the reader has nonbasis for certainty either. A number ofnpatterns and themes are developed invitingnsynthesis and promising to satisfynour desire for meaning, but ultimatelynthese remain ambiguous. One reviewernperceptively describes the novel as “andisheartening, brilliant book in whichnthe reader participates by foolishlyn24inChronicles of Culturenrushing in to fill the blanks the authornperversely leaves.” In one sense, the cursenof the title falls upon the reader whonstruggles to attain a clear, coherentninterpretation.nSome puzzling contemporary novelsnleave us with the strong suspicion thatntheir riddles are ultimately indecipherablenor, if decipherable, not worth the effort.nSuch a judgment of this novelnwould be unfair because it does displayninsights (criticism of Freudianism andnMarxism, for example) which inspirenPedology & PedagogynNeil Postman: The Disappearance ofnChildhood; Delacorte Press; NewnYork.nMortimer J. Adier: The Paideia Proposal:nAn Educational Manifesto; Macmillan,nNew York.nby Allan C. CarlsonnOt ur children are being snatchednaway just as surely as if they were beingnphysically kidnapped. The villains arenobscure, but the results are clear. Twelveyear-oldnmodels draped in sexually enticingnclothes and posed in erotic contortionsnstare with limpid eyes out of thenadvertisements in leading magazines. Anseven-year-old serves as guest host of thenraucous Saturday Night Live. Swedishnsex educators, panicked by surging levelsnof teenage pregnancy, propose issuingncontraceptives to seven- and eight-yearolds.nDisney’s movie version of the childnis generally displaced by the adultlikencreatures found in The Exorcist, PrettynBaby, Paper Moon, The Omen, and ThenBlue Lagoon. The rate of serious crimenamong American youth under the age ofn15 has risen 11,000 percent since 1950.n”Nonscrious” child crime (burglary,nDr. Carlson is a vice president of ThenRockford Institute and editor o/PersuasionnAt Work.nnnconfidence that contemplating its ambiguitiesnwill not be effort wasted.nVargas Llosa is probably right aboutnthe forces inclining Latin Americannwriters toward social and political commitment,nbut these three books demonstratenthat some of those writers are willingnto eschew such commitment in ordernto focus upon language, style, narrativentechnique, intimation rather than statement,nand on vivid expression devoid ofnovert meaning. Dnlarceny, and auto theft) is up 8,300 percent.nA New York town recendy indictednfour ” boys,” ages 9 to 13, for the rape of anseven-year-old girl. Children on currentntelevision sitcoms are portrayed as worldlynlittle adults. Sexual innuendo on thenlips of a tightly sweatered, prematurelyncurvaceous eleven-year-old is a surefirenlaugh; what was once considered psychopathicnhas become normal. Children’srightsnadvocates press for the eliminationnof “legal discrimination” againstnchildren. The pederasts are not farnbehind, working through several nationalnorganizations for the “right” ofnchild-love.nEducator Neil Postman, in his disturbingnbook The Disappearance ofnChildhood, looks to the past to explainnthis massive cultural shift. Borrowingnarguments from Philippe Aries, Lloyd denMause, and other historians of the family,nPostman argues that childhood—nunderstood as a distinct stage of life spanningnthe years 7 to 17—is a cultural creation,nmoreover, a relatively recent one.nThe Greeks, he notes, had no concept ofna child. While the Romans did evidencensome appreciation of childhood as a stagenof life needing special protection (infanticide,nfor example, was finally outlawednthroughout the Empire in 374 A.D.),nthat perception disappeared during thenmillennium which followed Rome’s collapse.nIn that era, everyone over the agen