brought the Christ Child, with the snakernfacing the greatest challenge. Thernanachronisms are funny, as intended.rnOf the remaining contents, including arn”Masque in Five Tableaux” and a shortrnstory, the greatest entertainment comesrnfrom a few poems by the redoubtablernJoycclin Shrager, the story’s protagonist,rnin whom Disch sends up an all too commonrnexample of the modern poetessrnwhose poetry can only be distinguishedrnfrom prose by close scrutiny of the whiternspace at the margins. Here again, Dischrndoes not elude the claims of science fiction:rnthe corny images and shallow sentimentsrnare straight from the preoccupationsrnof fandom.rnThe book that best serves Disch’s visionrnof literature is Neighboring Lives,rnpublished with an endorsement fromrnAnthony Burgess. A rambling accountrnof the literati of the Victorian era providesrnhim (and his collaborator CharlesrnNaylor) with an opportunity to practicernthat most mature of the novelist’s arts—rngossip! So effective is the author’s techniquernthat one becomes absorbed in thernpersonal lives of the Cariyles, John StuartrnMill, Whistler, Rossetti, Swinburne,rnand even Chades Dodgson (Lewis Carroll).rnThe only drawback is that this remarkablerncast of 19th-century luminariesrnis observed rather than used in anyrndramaticallv satisfying manner. The onlyrnpersonage who is portrayed as eccentricrnand egotistical enough to rise abovernBRIEF MENTIONSrnTHE DESERTrnbv John C. Van DykernLayton, Utah: Gibbs Smith; 272 pp., $9.95rnThat the desert has been time and again the subject of a compelling work of literaturern— Doughty’s Travels in Arabia Deserta, Krutch’s The Desert Year, Abbey’srnDesert Solitaire—is proof both of the infinite subtlety of God the Creator and ofrnthe nearly infinite resourcefulness of the genuine literary artist. The word “desert,”rnin fact, has come under attack in recent times as a philistine misnomer, whosernmost virulent critics are those desert rats who happen as well to be writers. Thernwriter has as his job to make apparent what people ordinarily fail to apprehend, andrnso it might be thought that, in taking the desert for his subject, he is accepting thernhighest challenge his craft can offer him. But that is not how it appears to John C.rnVan Dyke. “And so it is,” Van Dyke writes in his “Preface Dedication,” “thatrnmv book is only an excuse for talking about the beautiful things in this desertrnwodd that stretches down the Pacific Coast, and across Arizona and Sonora.rnThe desert has gone a-begging for a word of praise these man cars. It never hadrna sacred poet; in me it has only a lover.”rnThe Desert was originally published by Seribner’s in 1901. Van Dyke was anrnasthmatic art historian and critic at Rutgers who, in the summer of 1898 and atrnthe age of 42, mounted an Indian pony and rode away into the Colorado Desert inrnthe company of his small dog. For the next three years, he crossed and recrossedrnthe “wastes” of California, Arizona, and Mexico, including the Salton Sea Basin;rnit was during these wanderings that he composed this book, “at odd intervals,rnwhen I lay against a rock or propped up in the sand.” His training as an art criticrnexplains his wonderful appreciation and understanding of the effects of lightrnacross the desert spaces, in the mountains and in the canyons, but his understandingrnof these phenomena is scientific as well as aesthetic, as is his interest inrnthe physical forces that create and shape the landscape (such as moisture andrnwind erosion) and in the flora and fauna that inhabit it. Ultimately his love for therndesert is a spiritual, rather than an intellectual, passion: “The weird solitude, therngreat silence, the grim desolation, arc the very things with which every desertrnwanderer eventually falls in love.”rnVan Dyke was a forerunner of today’s environmentalist who lied to see the irrigationrnof the Imperial Valley: “The desert should never be reclaimed!” he writes.rnAnd the final lines of the book arc a prophecy, as well as a description: “The gloryrnof the wilderness has gone down with the sun. . . . It is time that we should sayrngoodnight—perhaps a long goodnight—to the desert.”rn—Chilton Williamson, ]r.rnthe narrative is Thomas Carlyle, whosernpassions against evervthing from the pianornto books like this one enable thernreader to escape the tediously accuraternportrayal of his times.rnAdmittedly, Disch and Naylor did notrnset out to write a novel of ideas in thernmanner of Chesterton or Wells. Therndisappointment is that Disch’s experiencernwith science fiction did not creeprnup on him, providing a central metaphorrnor point of view by which his natural talentsrnas a satirist could have nrade this arngreat novel. If Neighboring Lives is anyrnindication, Disch the novelist may finallyrnsatisfy Disch the critic in his flightrnfrom the “callowness of youth” and “BigrnIdeas,” as he identified the problem inrnhis piece for the Atlantic.rnBrad Linaweaver is a member of bothrnthe Science Fiction Writers of Americarnand the Horror Writers of America.rnHe has been a Nebula finalist and arnPrometheus Award winner.rnSatyr and SatirernbyJ.O. TaternThe Satyrrnby Robert DeMariarnSag Harbor, New York: Second ChancernPress; 176 pp., $2L95rnIthink it only right to declare my interestrnat the outset, for I have knownrnRobert DeMaria for a quarter of a centuryrnas a friend and as a colleague atrnDowling College. After all these years, Irnshould have learned something fromrnthat experience, and just now threernpieces of advice come to mind: alwaysrnaccept an offer of homemade lasagnarnfrom Professor DeMaria; never raise afterrnhe calls during a poker game; andrnread The Satyr, now that you’ve got arnsecond opportunity.rnFirst published twenty years ago. ThernSatyr is the fourth of DeMaria’s 14 novelsrnand stands apart from his other worksrnfor its sheer playfulness, its experimentalrnnature, and its brevity. This work deniesrnordinary reality, focusing on thernpsychology of the individual—or so itrnseems, if we are to take at face value thern36/CHRONICLESrnrnrn