Books and Arts
A Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary, Volume 4; Se-Z edited by R, W, Burchfield (Oxford University Press, 1,454 pp., $150) The Story of English by Robert McCrum, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil (Elisabeth Sifton Books/Viking, 384 pp.,$24,95) American Talk: The Words and Ways of American Dialects by Robert Hendrlckson (Viking, 231 pp., $18.95) Take My Word For It by William Safire (Times Books, 357 pp., $22,50) A Word or Two Before You Go ..
Right Reason By William F. Buckley, Jr. edited by Richard Brookisher (Doubleday, 454 pp., $19.95) On the cover of this latest collection of William Buckley's newspaper columns is the photograph (presumably he had a say in selecting it) of a man ill at ease with himself, looking out on the world as if from a battlement, fearing that some blow must fall from an unexpected quarter. The head is held taut, hunched back on his shoulders, as if it had once been severed, sewn back on, and can be moved now only stiffly, as in fact he moves it on television.
The Marriage of Bette and Booby Christopher Durang Miss Universal Happinessby Richard Foreman During his brief sojourn in the Sunday pages of The New York Times, the English drama critic Benedict Nightingale indicted a central strain of current American drama as "diaper plays," by which he meant works that ignored the urgencies of the political and social world, focusing instead on a surrogate hero's problems with his parents.
The Quality of Mercy: Cambodia, Holocaust, and Modern Conscience by William Shawcross (Simon and Schuster, 464 pp, $19.95) Great human disasters, natural or manmade, put bureaucrats to a test not only as public officials but as human beings. Normally insulated from the consequences of their actions by layers of government, and accustomed to the abstractions of statecraft, they suddenly are forced to deal with a problem in which every action (or inaction) can have an immediate effect on whether people will live or die.
Lincoln: A Novelby Gore Vidal(Random House, 658 pp., $19.95) Lincoln, Lincoln, burning on In the nation's pantheon— A mystery of like degree: Did he who made Myra make thee?Gore Vidal compels respect both for his output and his virtuosity, particularly for the latter. To compare his last book Duluth with Lincoln is a startling experience, even though his earlier work has prepared us for such shocks. Duluth was a puckish and willful attack on the business of characterization in conventional novels.
A Different Kind of Presidency: A Proposal for Breaking the Political Deadlock by Theodore C. Sorensen (Harper & Row, 134 pp., $11.95) If Senator Gary Hart gets back on the track toward the Democratic Presidential nomination, and if the candidate decides to follow the carefully considered advice of his campaign co-chairman, Theodore Sorensen, here's what will happen.