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And Our Critics Commend

November 03, 1985

The Old Gringo, Carlos Fuentes (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). "An opalescent novel" speculating on the disappearance of Ambrose Bierce in Mexico in 1914. Though the narrative "is not always easy to follow . . . the translation by Margaret Sayers Peden can hardly be questioned. One forgets that this iridescent, violent, smoky novel was conceived in another language" (Evan S. Connell).

The Unloved. From the Diary of Perla S., Arnost Lustig (Arbor House). "Elusive and compelling." Perla S., the 17-year-old Jewish girl who keeps the diary that makes up this novel, "alternately seizes us and loses us. We keep fixing on the actions, emotions and speculations of this adolescent, only to have them change shape and fog over" (Richard Edger).

Family and Friends, Anita Brookner (Pantheon). This "very artful novel" about a wealthy emigre family living near London "is no pastiche but something new." Anita Brookner's "set pieces move in original ways, and it is in their movement that the novel finds its considerable witchery" (Richard Eder).

Migraine: Understanding a Common Disorder, Oliver Sacks MD (University of California) is "an erudite, literary and thoughtful medical treatise on migraine for laypersons and physicians, emulating some of the best in classic medical writing" (Joel Yager).

Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families, J. Anthony Lukas (Alfred A. Knopf) "intimately traces the lives of three Boston families" during the urban warfare between 1968 and 1978. "The result is a book that pulls the reader along as if it were fiction, but has a greater impact because of the alarming realization that even though the people changed, Boston has not" (David Holstrom).

Riches and Honor, Tom Hyman (Viking) "is absolutely not literature . . . and yet, (it) is far better written than many a novel with literary aspirations . . . This is an adventure tale that combines elements of Old Testament sibling rivalry with 20th-Century psychosis . . . But there's also a touch of 'Rambo' in all this, and more than a touch of "The Maltese Falcon' " (Carolyn See).

Prolongevity II, Albert Rosenfeld (Knopf). "Most people assume that whatever is alive must eventually grow old and die, unless aborted prematurely. Albert Rosenfeld believes that this this scenario isn't preordained, and that increased financial support for research on the aging process could . . . radically improve the quality of human life, psychologically and spiritually" (Katharine Rich).

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