for a minute. He claims in an introductorynnote that these BBC talks are writtenn”no more than a couple of hoursnbefore they are taped”—something thatnwould be well beyond my powers. Still,nwhat I keep thinking is that since then1930’s, when Cooke arrived in America,nthe country has undergone a staggeringndecline. Cooke won’t ever tell us this,nalthough he must be aware of it sincenhe likes America and has never writtennabout it condescendingly in the mannernof so many visitors.nBut he seems to believe that to drawnattention to this decline would be badnmanners. Perhaps in poor taste. Thenman is too polite to express the exasperationnhe must surely sometimes feel.n(He does let this show once or twice,nas when he describes pornography asn”the clutter of filth that floats along withnthe First Amendment and is marketednfor lucre in the name of liberty.” Thisnis a rare outburst for him, however;nalthough he does also include in the collectionna good piece on Richard Nixon,nhinting here and there at a measure ofnTeleology and Murdernin a Candy StorenDavid Scott Milton: Kabbalah; HarcourtnBrace Jovanovich; New York.nby Louis EhrenkrantznIt is no secret that “Jewish” novelsnhave been successful, especially sincen1945. Philip Roth, Bernard Malamudnand Saul Bellow have received both popularnand critical acclaim, and Isaac BashevisnSinger won the Nobel Prize.nOne would assume, therefore, that anserious American novel with a Jewishntheme would attract a great deal of attentionnfrom critics and engender anstrong marketing effort by the publisher.nMr. Ehrenkrantz is editor of The CulturalnWatchdog in New York.n^Qm^mmmmm^^nChronicles of Ciiltttrcndissent from his colleagues in thenmedia.)nOn the whole, though, old Alistairnpretty much minds his own business,nnot butting in too much, whistling hisnown quirky melody as he saunters downnFifth Avenue on the way to the studio.nPerhaps on these occasions he tries tonreassure himself that it’s all much as itnwas in the year they built the EmpirenState building. On the other hand, perhapsnhe knows there have been vastnchanges, mostly for the worse. Onenwould like to know his opinion on thenmatter. If he were to speak out plainly,nof course, the neighbors on North Forknwould be bound to disapprove. Likewise,nany display of earnestness would benacutely discomforting to Cooke himself.nNevertheless, it would be good to hearnthe old gent speak his mind at last.n”Cooke’s Jeremiad” would be perfectnfor public television. All the right peoplenwould be listening. Cooke decidedlynhas the intelligentsia’s ear. That’s whynit would be nice if he would tell themnoff, just once. DnThe silence with which David ScottnMilton’s Kabbalah has been greeted bynthe literary establishment seems puzzling:nneither the New York Times nornthe New York Review of Books hasnbothered with it. A careful reading ofnMilton’s remarkable novel may revealnthe motivation behind the establishment’snbenign neglect.nKabbalah is difficult to categorize.nWhen Buddy Hall, a former high-schoolnhero, kills the owner of a neighborhoodncandy store in Pittsburgh, both Buddy’snchildhood friend—now a rabbi—and andetective become obsessed with “trackingnBuddy down.” John Strahan, thendetective, is compelled by his prior hatrednof the murderer and driven by anvengeful motive dating back to an oldnnnrelationship Buddy had with Strahan’snwife. Rabbi Akiba Moldavan, wrackednby poverty and preoccupied with Kabbalah,nan arcane Jewish mysticism dedicatednto revealing the unity of the universe—andnhence the rationale for thenexistence of evil—wants to reach Buddynbefore Strahan does. His goals are tonredeem Buddy (confront pure evil) andnto save his own soul in the process.nAll categories fail when it becomesnclear that the ultimate revelation willnbe shared by all, and not by the uncoveringnof a withheld secret, but by a deepeningnunderstanding of the teleologicalnuniverse the characters inhabit. Thenchase after Buddy transcends melodramanbecause the author is capable ofnconvincing us of the genuineness ofnthe issue: Akiba Moldavan, obscurenclergyman, believes that in confrontingnhis boyhood friend, he can come closento the center of the truth. Touched byn”the chaotic power of evil … he knewnnothing …. He told himself now, desperatenin his impotence: If a mannthrough Kabbalah could somehow unifynthe chaos, bring light out of dark, thenworld would be saved.” A chase withnsuch stakes is a contest worth notingnin our world more than “touched bynevil.”nThe success of such an ambitiousnventure depends upon the ability of thenauthor to make us believe in the significancenand the reality of his concernsnwithin the framework he builds for us.nThis book’s triumph seems to be thenintegrity of the enterprise: Milton obviouslynknows his seamy world of thendispossessed and desperate people. Hisnknowledge of Jewish mysticism is not ancheap one derived from opportunisticngurus, but is informed with an understandingna good deal more than superficial.nIt is his genuineness that holds thisnbook together for those of us who havennever used heroin or experienced thenanguish of attempting to save a seeminglynworthless life. For some 300npages, Milton keeps us identified withnthe fight against the ultimate ritualisticnaffirmation of emptiness and violence.n