Books and Arts
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem(Doubleday, 511 pp., $26) I. Jonathan Lethem’s new novel is a bohemian rhapsody about an unwilling bohemian—a delicate little white pioneer named Dylan Ebdus, whose right- thinking parents decide, in the early 1970s, that a ragged street in swinish Brooklyn is the place before which to cast their only jewel.
North Elvis Costello (Deutsche Grammophon) Why don't we let rock stars grow up? The pop music domain is like a confederation of Never-Never Land and the Island of Lost Boys, where nobody can ever grow old and nasty behavior is the social code. It is some fifty years now since rock and roll began to emerge as a musical style and a cultural phenomenon, originally of a piece with the adolescent rebellion against postwar conservatism that the rebelled-upon used to call juvenile delinquency. The music's surviving originators—Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis, most of the
Support Any Friend: Kennedy's Middle East and the Making of the U.S.-Israel AllianceBy Warren Bass(Oxford University Press, 336 pp., $30)Imagine a fetching young president who takes office and tries to transform America's Middle East policies, tackling instead of sidestepping the Palestinian problem, not distancing but embracing the Israelis, wooing rather than resisting Arab radicals. And imagine a president who strives to achieve these goals at the very moment the Middle East becomes the focus of a vicious global struggle.
The Enemy at His Pleasure: A Journey Through the Jewish Pale of Settlement During World War IBy S. AnskyEdited and translated byJoachim Neugroschel(Metropolitan Books, 327 pp., $30)I was a college student when I first read, in Hebrew, S.Y. Agnon's novel A Guest for the Night, which tells the story of a Jew from Palestine who returns after the war to his native town in Galicia, the area of southeastern Poland that was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1917. There he finds the remains of a devastated Jewish community.
The Palestinian People: A HistoryBy Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal(Harvard University Press, 608 pp., $45)I.What are the Palestinians after? There are two basic interpretations of their actions in the past three years, which began with their rejection of the Barak-Clinton compromise proposals and the launching of the ongoing terroristic and guerrilla assault on Israel known as the Aqsa Intifada.
Regarding the Pain of Others By Susan Sontag (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 131 pp., $20) One of the great platitudes of our epoch is that images, in particular photographic or filmed images, transmit messages that are much clearer and stronger than words, which disguise the truth more than they reveal it. But in truth nothing could be less certain: a photograph can stun us, but taken out of context it may not convey any significant meaning.
The statistics are staggering. Winged Migration, a French documentary about birds in flight, took four years to make. It employed, as it proceeded, a total crew of four hundred fifty. It was shot in a global variety of places-or over them, rather-to capture the four principal migration routes: those used by North American birds, European and Asian birds, Asian birds, and Southeast Asian birds. Needed for the cinematography were gliders and model gliders, helicopters and model ones, light motorized aircraft, and balloons.
The Social Norms Approach to Preventing School and College Age Substance Abuse: A Handbook for Educators, Counselors, and CliniciansBy H. Wesley Perkins(Jossey-Bass, 320 pp., $45) In the 1950s, Solomon Asch, an enterprising psychologist at Swarthmore College, engaged in some remarkable studies of conformity. Asch wanted to find out whether group pressures would lead people to reject the unambiguous evidence of their own senses.
In the Land of Pain By Alphonse Daudet Edited and translated by Julian Barnes (Alfred A. Knopf, 87 pp, $13) The language requirement in American high schools has always been something of a curricular curiosity, and the abolition nowadays of the hopeful competence that it once proposed is but another sign of the withering away of the state of literary studies.