Travis Bickle

You may, or should, be familiar with Todd Gitlin's terrific book "The Sixties." It turns out he also has a lot of fascinating observations about the 70's as well: Bad ideas traveled fast without even the benefit of the Internet. Heavy drugs helped (though Nixon didn’t seem to need anything more than alcohol). Conspiracy theories spawned theories of who benefited from conspiracy theories. There was gold at the end of Gravity’s Rainbow. Even Oliver Stone was not necessary. For example, Wheen notes, “It was A Clockwork Orange which convinced [Arthur] Bremer that he must shoot George Wallac

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Smugged by Reality

Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York By Adam Gopnik (Alfred A. Knopf, 336 pp., $25) I SOMETIMES WONDER if Adam Gopnik was put on this earth to annoy. If so, mission accomplished. Mind you, he finds himself in fine company in my illustrious literary perp walk. Francine Prose, with her pinched perceptions and humorless hauteur—every time she brings out a new book (she is depressingly diligent), I find myself grumbling, “Her again?” I’ve never gotten the point of Paul Auster and his swami mystique and probably never shall, unless I move to Brooklyn and achieve phosphorescence.

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