Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

PAPERBACKS

September 12, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

ANTONIETTA by John Hersey (Vintage: $11; 304 pp.). The last novel by the author of "A Bell for Adano" traces the history of a wondrous violin named after Stradavarius' second wife. After leaving the luthier's Cremona workshop, the fabulous instrument passes through the hands of a succession of musicians, including Mozart, Berlioz and Stravinsky, before becoming the investment-cum-plaything of a vulgar corporate raider. An entertaining if slight roman a treble clef.

THE KOBE HOTEL by Saito Sanki, translated from the Japanese by Saito Masaya (Weatherhill: $12.95; 199 pp. paperback original). Saito Sanki was an unsuccessful dentist and a frustrated ballroom dance instructor before he achieved fame as an unconventional haiku poet. The quirky stories and poems in this collection are based on his experiences in broken-down hotel in Kobe during World War II. From his seedy room, the narrator chronicles the activities of a decadent pageant of black marketeers, pimps, prostitutes, draft dodgers and drunks. Available for the first time in English in Saito Masaya's spare translation, Sanki's work depicts the struggles of ordinary people to endure war, defeat and occupation.

TASTES OF PARADISE: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants by Wolfgang Schivelbusch, translated from the German by David Jacobson (Vintage: $13; 237 pp., illustrated). This engaging study traces when various stimulants became popular and with whom. Because it was seen as energizing, coffee was linked to the middle-class Protestant work ethic, while chocolate had leisurely, aristocratic associations. Schivelbusch offers interesting background information for the ongoing debate over attitudes toward drug use in contemporary society.

PEREGRINE FALCONS by Candace Savage (Sierra Club Books: $20; 145 pp.). The near-extinction of the peregrine falcon after WW II revealed the pernicious effects of DDT and related pesticides. An aggressive breeding and release program and restrictions on the use of these chemicals have helped the falcon make a partial comeback: There are now 15,000 breeding pairs worldwide. Savage describes the return of the peregrine as encouraging but sobering: No one knows what effect the thousands of tons of toxins released into the environment each year may have on falcons--or any other species.

THERE GOES MY BABY! by Lynn Johnston (Andrews & McMeel: $8.95; 128 pp., paperback original). The latest collection of "For Better or For Worse" suggests that Lynn Johnston is as much a novelist as a comic-strip artist. She often seems less concerned with providing a daily laugh than with probing how the middle-class Patterson family would react to contemporary social questions. Ellie and her brother settle their aging parents in a retirement community; in junior high school, Elizabeth discovers a girl she admires may have an eating disorder. A few papers dropped the strip earlier this year, when one of Michael's teen-age friends came to grips with his homosexuality, but only the most prudish conservatives could be offended by Johnston's sensitive treatment of the subject.

THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION POCKET GUIDE TO EMERGENCY FIRST AID (Random House: $3.99; 86 pp., paperback original) and THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION POCKET GUIDE TO SPORTS FIRST AID (Random House: $3.99; 90 pp., paperback original). These concise manuals focus on simple mnemonics: RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) for sports injuries; ABC (Airway, Breathing, Circulation) for general first aid. The outdated treatments in many guides (e.g. sucking the venom from a snake bite) have been replaced with modern, straightforward instructions. Although no book can replace first aid training, keeping these guides in the medicine chest can help ensure proper treatment of minor injuries.

ONE MILLION by Hendrik Hertzberg (Times Books: $14; 201 pp.; paperback original). Hertzberg's book-length graph illustrates just how many units make 1 million: 200 pages at 5,000 dots per page. Although Asian civilizations used larger numbers to calculate time, the term million wasn't used in the the West until the 14th Century. Hertzberg cites various statistics to break up the pages: 527,137 children under 15 arrested in 1991; 777,119 lawyers in the U.S.; 864,000 miles, the diameter of sun. Alas, the entire printing of the book wouldn't contain enough dots to represent the Federal deficit.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|