The City Beatnby Bill KauffmannRed Lovenby David EvaniernNew York: Scribner’s;n340 pp., $19.95nR ed Love is “third generation Leninist”nporno star Suzie Sizzle’snyet-unmade dream project, the lovenstory of her aunt and uncle, the Rosenberg-likenspies Dolly and Solly Rubell.nUntil Suzie’s industry develops a revolutionarynconsciousness, we’ll have tonsettle for David Evanier’s novel of wit,nfine malice, and the same title.nBut first, a cavil: do we really neednanother book about this vile brace ofntraitors? The Communist Party nevernamounted to more than a band ofnjabbering foreigners and slummingnheiresses in a couple of big East Coastncities. At its peak in 1932, the CPnpresidential candidate won 103,000nvotes — about one-ninth the tally ofnSocialist Norman Thomas. Plenty ofnAmerican radicals (Huey Long, ArthurnTownley, Bob La Follette, FathernCoughlin, Francis Townsend) attractednlarge followings in the prewar yearsnbut, with the happy exception of Huey,nnovelists and historians have slightednthem. Even Eugene V. Debs, ourngreatest Marxist, a patriot whose socialismnwas seeded in his “beloved litdencommunity of Terre Haute, where allnwere neighbors and friends,” isndwarfed by the contemptible Rosenbergsnin American myth-history.nOkay, that’s ofiF my chest. Now on tonthe novel.nRed Love is narrated by GeraldnLerner, an apostate Communist out tonbury once and for all the Rubells andnthe god that failed. Lerner came to thenparty in the late 50’s, after Khrushchev’snindictment of Stalin had denudednthe CP of all but the most wretchednlosers. The remaining comradesn”didn’t f , work, or change theirnsocks — ever. They were eaters, shouters,nscreamers, slurpers. Healthy revolutionarynmales in their thirties had ton32/CHRONICLESnREVIEWSnbe F.B.I, men.”nAnd yet, the legend goes, there wasna sunny Depression morn when progressivenyouth dreamed “a dream ofnjustice,” as Leonard Michaels says innhis wildly inappropriate blurb for RednLove. (Did he read the book?) Communismnwould stamp out religiousnfaith and parochialism and family lovenand other impediments along the roadnto Utopia. The spoilsport Emma Goldmannwas warning that Bolshevismnmeant only “a change of masters,” but,nwell, a cold heart like Emma’s couldnnever feel what Vivian Gornick termedn”the romance of American communism.”nIn the halcyon 30’s, comradesnwere young and gay and life was annendless summer day.nLerner learns that even in its goldennage, communism had all the romancenof a rape. The stateside Communistsnwhom he encounters in his investigationnof the Rubell case are Jews whonscorn Judaism: on holidays they roastnpigs and sing Christmas carols andnwatch blue movies and mock “thenyarmulkes” — the schleps who cling tonthe old ways. Accounts of Stalin’snpogroms are dismissed as fascist propaganda;ndisillusioned returnees from thenLincoln Brigades are deemed shellshockedncounterrevolutionaries.nEvanier, I think, sensed that thenRubells’ tale verges on the stale; RednLove’s virtue is its gallery full of portraitsnof other wasted lives. Young Pioneersnin New York City chant “Downnwith the Boy Scouts” and watch anboxing match in which Science knocksnout Religion and the referee; an oldncrone keeps a bust of Stalin on hernbookshelf and addresses her disturbednson as “fellow worker”; Paul Robesonnrecords play, and play, and play.nEvanier writes frequently for Commentary,nbut Red Love is no repentantnrant by a guilt-ridden ex-lunchroomnTrotskyite. Some passages are actuallynfunny:n— A comrade recalls Solly’s attitudentoward his Roy Cohn-like nemesis, HynBriske: “If Solly had his way, he mightnhave exterminated this scumbag, butnonly if he was told to do so. His firstnnnapproach would have been to attemptnto correct Hy’s thinking.”n— Solly gushes over the LittlenWoman: “Dolly … is the most beautifulnperson I have ever met. . . . She isnin pain so much of the time from hernback, her headaches, and the sufferingnof the workers. She has such revolutionarynanger; she never deviates fromnit. She referred to Eisenhower thenother day as a “guttersnipe in stripednpants.” And “a privileged fascistndog.” … I mean, she talks that way tonme. I have learned so much from hernintegrity.”n— Solly’s sister laments at a postexecutionnrally: “To think he didn’t livento experience the joys of television.”nA few of Evanier’s burlesques fallnflat: Hy Briske’s audacious disrespectingnof Ike, for one, and an extendedntake on an anti-Semitic Arkansas radionpreacher named Reverend Bob. (Arkansasnis one of those states out there,nwhere white-hooded lynch mobs rulenthe roost and gap-toothed Brylcreemednclerics are named Billy or Bob, or, if tonthe manor born, Billy Bob. So say thenTV Movies of the Week, anyway.)nEvanier stumbles when he venturesnbeyond Jersey City. A brief chapter setnin Alabama is downright embarrassing.nAmerica’s open wound — slavery andnlater injustices visited upon black citizens—nis quite beyond cartooning.nEvanier’s South is limited to BullnConnor and Noble Sidney Poitier Negroes:nit’s the celluloid South of MartinnRitt, flat and unconvincing.nWhen he sticks to the city beat,nthough, Evanier is gimlet-eyed andnunsentimental. Vivian Gornick andnthe other CP apologists can burnishnand whitewash all they want, but DavidnEvanier knows why the Rubells didnit — and why thousands of other intelligentnhuman beings pledged allegiancento the ideology of totalitarianism.nEvanier gives us the key in an exchangenbetween Solly and a CP muckamuck,nas the hapless spy ponders hisnimminent execution.n”I love my babies,” Solly sobs to thenwoman.nThe comrade is unmoved.n