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AIR FARE by Alice Ferlaud (Peregrine-Smith: $9.95)

September 03, 1989|SONJA BOLLE

This collection of "color" pieces from National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" might make a more appropriate audio cassette than a book: Most of the entries are verbatim transcriptions of radio features, including sound effects. Ferlaud is based in Paris, where she covers such quirky subjects as a man who raises snail eggs for gourmets, a truffle hunt and the rigors of shopping in a French produce market. Her superficial reportage lacks the charm and insight of her obvious model, Janet Flanner's "Genet" columns in The New Yorker. NPR uses these fluff pieces as filler on slow news days, and the idea of them existing in permanent book form seems as incongruous as a bronze cast of a fruit fly.

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