Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 9, 1974 · Page 88
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June 9, 1974

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 88

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, June 9, 1974
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Page 88
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SPEAKING OF BOOKS Mature solution for libbers "THE HALF-SISTERS," by Cynthia Propper Seton, W.W. Norton, $6.95 In this short novel, Cynthia Seton comes quietly to the defense of the liberal, educated, middle-class woman who became a housewife and is now h a v i n g second ^ thoughts about her decision. r Seton's earlier writings are also somewhat in this vein. She defends the family as an institution, but challenges the mother to grow through the years by "self- improvement," reading (and in her case, writing) and thinking in her own time and space. Even with five children ( f o u r of them daughters), she admits to snatching her freedom on a daily and sometimes physical basis. But, unlike her collections ^of essays, which reveal her "~ thoughts on coping with everyday family life, "The Half-Sisters" is a time-lapse review of the life of a woman from the time she is 11 until her daughters are in college. These daughters, perhaps like Seton's own, are questioning the limited roles still available to women today. The story traces a pattern of growth which many women, pressured after World War II to marry, keep house and raise children, have followed. One half-sister, Billie, broke her engagement because she "couldn't ,~ stand... .life closing in on me that way. Everybody mobilizing. It was like total war and the single objective was my unconditional surrender." But Billie is driven into marriage as her friends pajr off. Erica Thoroughgood, the principal half-sister, also marries, although to her "a wedding is a celebration of such f a i l u r e for a woman. . . .a failure to take hold of life, a great quitting ceremony." Twenty years later, she decides to take hold of life but unlike Ibsen's Nora, she elects to stay with her family. Billie and Erica are linked by Erica's father's marriage to Billie's mother, which gives them shared August vacations. As girls, they feel that their half-sisterhood is a potent force, but only as they approach middle-age do they allow that force to work. In 1937, Erica is 11 years old and growing up wholesomely in the Bronx with her "modern woman" mother and lawyer grandfather, while Billie is learning to sail and swim and play tennis in elegant Moriches on Long Island. The women are reunited as they are about to graduate from college in 1948 (Erica attends Smith, which is Seton's alma mater) and again 20 years later when Erica buys a house in Best Sellers This survey is based on reports from more than 250 bookstores in 110 communities throughout the U.S. FICTION "Watership Down," by Richard Adams. "Jaws," by Peter Bench- iy"The Fan Club," by Irving Wallace. "The Snare of the Hunter," by Helen Maclnnes. "Burr," by Gore Vidal. GENERAL "Times to Remember," by Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. "Plain Speaking," by Merle Miller. "Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors," by Piers Paul Reed. "Thomas Jefferson," by Fawn M. Brodie. "Working," by Studs Terkel. Killer off the beach "JAWS," by Peter Benchley, Doubleday, $6.95. Cynics are fond of saying that if Jesus were to return to earth in, for instance, Chicago, he would forthwith be clapped into a mental institution. Thomas Jefferson similarly would be jailed for daring to exercise the rights , he, himself, wrote into the Constitution. What would happen if a killer shark killed a bather a short distance from a Long Island resort town financially dependent upon summer vacation trade? That's how this gripping adventure yarn by Robert Benchley's grandson begins. What happens, naturally, is that the incident is hushed up in the interest of commercial tranquility. But the great white shark doesn't 26m cooperate. He keeps right on killing and the town fathers are forced to accede in a closing of the beaches. There is more to this story than this moral dilemma, and there are bound to be comparisons with Melville's story of the great white whale, man's ceaseless assault upon nature, or vice versa, and the like. But to tell more here would ruin a fine story for you. I will say one thing more: it isn't true that a picture is a l w a y s w o r t h t h o u s a n d words. I cannot believe a picture could possibly convey the reality of a shark attack quite so well as Benchley's words to it, from the standpoint of both shark and victim. --L. T. Anderson-- K V ) Moriches which is near Billie's summer home. Despite the separations, the bond between them is intact and the influence they have on each other is strong. Erica is still "impressed by Billie's carefree, daredevil ways. She has always considered herself a little train on her track, derailed once by an affair, but soon realigned toward the future. Billie is seen as a kite on a'very long string, living each day by itself with her head "together." The gentle tensions of the book are provided by the conflicts aroused by Billie in Erica, who is about to become derailed again after a pleasant 20 year marriage to a college dean. Erica's story is well-told. Seton's style is clever without being too cute, repetitious without being boring and colloquial without being trite, but lacks the emotional release of Erica Jong and Doris Lessing, who handle similar themes on a more sensitive level. Her style does not allow her to strike deep chords of recognition within her readers, but she does write a new set of lyrics to an all too familiar melody. The conflict between Billie's apparent freedom and personal honesty, and Erica's security and "virtuous" dishonesty is one which many women must resolve within themselves. By encouraging a "super sister" union of these two contrary half-sisters, Seton offers a mature solution for women who "waver uncertainly along the line between cleaving and wrenching free." --Melissa C. Bradford A good Mac ' "ZALESKI'S PERCENTAGE," by Donald MacKenzie, Houghton Mifflin Co. $5.95. Donald MacKenzie has been writing fine crime novels, and 1 have been reading them, longer than I care to confess. One thing is certain, though -- while I have been growing older, MacKenzie has been getting better. He writes books that are vivid, brisk, convincing, exciting and suspenseful. "Zaleski's Percentage" is an example of MacKenzie at his ingenious best. Casimir Zaleski steals a jewelled cross which, as a Polish commando in World War II, he had once liberated from the Nazis. But he doesn't cover his tracks, and both the p o l i c e and a-master criminal named Gerber are out to take it away from him. If you've ever read a MacKenzie novel, you won't have to be encouraged to read this one; if you haven't, you couldn't pick a better place to start. --Albert F. Nussbaum-- Crossword Puzzle CRYPTOQUIP W G T K S V T D A E T G J J A T H K V N H C N - S D H U P H J C E T W M H S V D M D V J E P W V ~ K E H J C P T H C N E P D W K K ^ W U K Today's Cryptoquip clue: V equals A /·' Answer for Sunday, June 2, Cryptoquip: HOW MANY YOUNG FANS KNOW THAT THE PufULAR UKULELE IS A SMALL GUITAR OF PORTUGUESE ORIGIN? ACiiGSS 46 Pirate's flag 83 An 1 Climbing 47 Stravinski astringent pepper 48 Humbled 84 Lower 6 Native 51 Dried 86 Friar bear of orchid 87 Slew Australia tubers 88 Peridot 11 Military 52 Most 89 Stir subdivision haughty 90 Garment , 16 Jerusalem 56 Tendon 91 Petty thorn 57 Captain's demon 17 A fabric boss · 92 December 18 Soap plants 58 Graph 24, et al. 20 Israeli 59 Mongrel 94 Hillside city 60 State of dugout 21 Opening, agitation 95 Vilify in chess 61 Lear's 97 Biblical 22 A, B, or C daughter name 24 Sleeveless 62 Specter 98 Hot desert garments 63 Fashion wind 25 Crazes ·· 64 Self 100 Impel 27 Redact 65 The Penta- 102 Armory 29 Unless (L.) teuch 104 Lowest 30 First Lady 66 Pursue points 31 Amphibian 67 Capital of 105 Agog 32 Son of Kish Lombardy 106 County in 33 Actor Sparks 68 Ringlets New York 34 Roman road 70 Twenty-four 107 Bails 36 Popular sheets of 108 Otaries author paper 109 Take posses- 37 To certify 71 Hidden sion of 39 Leveret 72 Chest sound (archaic 40 Dieters 73 Murmuring var.) 42 Weather sounds DOWN word 74 Buffoon l Too late 43 Palm 75 Party goody 2 Greek cockatoos 78 Ascend letters 45 Weaver's 79 Meade and 3 Hebrew reed Lee letter 4 An Old 41 Roll into 71 Connection Testament a ball 73 Furnishes people 42 Lawgiver 74 A son of 5 Washroom 44 Put to Atreus 6 Alaskan flight 75 Imprisons bear 46 Ranee's 76 Very young 7 Mountain husband salmon nymph 47 Sultan's 77 A cardinal 8 Vestments decree , number 9 Costello 48 Valuable 78 Love god 10 Toothless possession "9 Large animal 49 Drunken desert 11 Carps spree 80 One to whorr. 12 Neglect 50 Negative title is 13 Decompose ion transferred 14 Scheme 51 Icelandic 81 Vertebra or 15 Advanced tales nerve study group 52 Stage 82 Leaf of the 16 Deduction 53 French calyx 19 Biblical school -85 Raise in name 54 African relief , 20 Large region 86 Motors ungulate 55 English 90 Carouse 23 Nests of river 93 Beverage pheasants 57 Blackbird 94 Israeli 26 Entre -- ; 58 Burns seaport between us 61 Irritated 95 Capital 28 Composition 62 English of for two county Latvia 32 Soak 63 Bishops 96 Author 35 A winter wear them Gardner apple 65 Ensnare 97 Soaks 36 Noxious 66 Anathema 99 Spanish plant 67 Broadway hero 37 Story hit 101 Scottish writer 69 Eighth of explorer 38 Hindu poet an ounce 103 Compass 39 Arduous 70 Wholly reading Average time of solution: 61 minutes. 20 24 Jo" 3T 48 49 56 1 60~ 68 83 ~8B 98 16 76 104 35- 45 107 41 93 65 99 25 61 84 94 26 57 85 89 51 78 17 21 IOO I OS 108 42 70 1OI 8 37 10 32 62 9O 27 SB 86 28, 79 18 22 102 IO6 109 38 44 71 96 13 67 103 29 63 87 97 5i 59 80 91 19 55 June 9, 197$r. j/^'

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