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March 28, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

MIGRATIONS TO SOLITUDE: The Quest for Privacy in a Crowded World by Sue Halpern (Vintage: $10; 212 pp., illustrated). These brief essays explore some of the strategies people adopt to escape the pressures of urban overcrowding, from the brothers at a Trappist monastery in Kentucky to a self-sufficient old couple who have withdrawn to a cabin in the woods. The more interesting chapters focus on how people cope with environments that deprive them of privacy--an AIDS hospice, the intensive-care unit of an urban hospital, a metropolitan shelter for the homeless. A formerly homeless woman offers the book's most telling comments as she describes how people have to relearn social and survival skills when they finally obtain a place to live.

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