The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on August 31, 1975 · Page 16
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August 31, 1975

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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 16

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Des Moines, Iowa
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Sunday, August 31, 1975
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31.197S • DES M01NES SUNDAY CHARLOTTE BRUNK Ellubeth I (miniature by Nicholas Milliard, 1571) Sir Walter Ralegh, by Johi Wintoa (352 pafei); Coward, McCaon & Geoghegan, $15. This handsome portrait, lavish with illustrations in color .and black and white; chronicles the dramatic and tragic life of a brilliant figure of Elizabethan England. Sir Walter Ralegh's biographer lists him impressively — "courtier, soldier, sailor, explorer, poet, parliamentarian, patron of the arts, falconer, gardener, botanist, chemist, historian, war reporter and antiquary." He was a man of action and violence and tearing ambition; he also was a writer of delicate poetry that showed a sad and thoughtful side. His name, modernly spelled Raleigh, interestingly had several versions in his time — Ralegh, Rauley, Rauleygh. But in 1584 he decided on the spelling Ralegh and he pro- nounced it as "Rawly." Ralegh rose to fame 'as a favorite of Queen Elizabeth once she noticed him. He was then 28 and darkly hand-' some, bold and eager, elaborately garbed usually in white and silver. Elizabeth "realized his brilliance and his versatility, but she never: admitted him to her Privy Council" and thus Ralegh never realized his dream of being a statesman. "He was* to be her creature. His future, lay utterly in her favour." One Ralegh observer of the times, Sir Robert Nauntpn, saw Ralegh's career as a caprice of Fortune ..." she tost him up of nothing, and too and fro to greatness*, and from thence down to little more than to that wherein she found him (A bare Gentleman)." For Fortune substitute 'Elizabeth or her successor, James I, who sent Ra- "Sir Walter Ralegh, the Queen's 'dear Walter'. attributed to Federico Zuccaro (c. 1540-1609)." Portrait legh to that fatal block in the Palace Yard at Westminster. Winton, English historian and novelist, tells a vivid story with engrossing use' ofleC- ters and quotations' from records and writings of Ralegh's day, pointing it up throughout with fascinating | illustrative material. Ralegh is seen as a soldier, as leader of expeditions to the New World (he founded colonies in Virginia), as a writer of skill both in prose and poetry, as .hapless searcher for Eldorado in Guiana. There are chapters on his marriage, which infuriated the Queen, his final failure to find gold in the Orinoco, his years of imprisonment in the Tower of London, finally his execution for alleged treason in 1618, grippingly narrated by Winton. He concludes movingly with some words of Sir Walter Ralegh addressed to Death: " ... thou hast drawn together all the far stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of man, and .covered it all over with these two narrow words, Ht'c jo- cct." — Charlotte Brunk Like narrative of a newsreel film Ragtime, by E. L. Doctorow (270 pages), Random House; $8.95. To deal with a unique period in U.S. history, E. L. Doctorow has developed his own, peculiar writing style. It reads like the narrative for a newsreel film. His sentences are mostly short, punchy and flatly factual-sounding. He paraphrases quotations and uses no quotation marks. He freely blends fact and fiction, real and imaginary characters. And out of this he has developed an unusual and imaginative novel that seems somehow to genuinely capture the mood of America in the early 1900s. It pulses with the cross-currents of culture and society of an America in transition, an America on the verge of rapid and irrevocable change. Patriotism, free enterprise and Yankee ingenuity are still "reliable sentiments," as Doctorow puts it, but the seeds of socialism and social reform have already been planted. The novel paces along like one of the syncopated com- positions'of Scott Joplin and in it, "ragtime" becomes more than the budding new E. L. Doctorow musical style, it becomes the timing, beat and melody of an entire era of the nation's history. \l , Doctorow's work involves three families whose lives become entangled with the likes of J. P. Morgan, "Red" Emma Goldman, Henry Ford, Harry Houdinl, Evelyn Nesbit, Harry Thaw and Emi- lianoZapata. Under the author's clever rendering, the fictional char* acters become almost indistinguishable from the real Best Seller List <VM M NM YM TMIM) Fiction Tkii Wttk Uit Wttkt Wttk OiLiit 2 4 1 10 1 RAGTIME, by E. L. Doctorow. (Random Howt, J8.95.) 2 lOOKINtitORMIt.GOODBAR ( byJudKliRo»Mr.(SlmMA Schutttr.S7.95.) 3 SHOGUN, by Jamil CtawMAlhtntum,!112.50.) 5 6 4 THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY, by ItttlutlCrkktOfl. 3 9 (Knopf, 97.95.) 5 CENTENNIAL, fay J»m« Michtner. (Random How*, 6 ' 52 6 THE'MONEYCHANGERS, by Arthur tUXcy. (OouMtoiy, 4 22 $10.) 7 SHARDIK, by Richard Adams. (Simon iSchustir, J9.95.) 7 15 8 THE EAGLE HAS LANDED, by Jack Hi9>nj.( Holt, Rinthart 8 3 & Winston, $8.95.) 9 THE BOAT, by Lothar-Gunthtr Buchtwim. (Knopf, $10.) 10 3 Wattry advtntum of a U-boat cr«w. 10 THE DREADFUL LEMON SKY, by John D.MacDould. 9 23 (Lippmcolt,$6.95.) General Tkii 1*** Wttkt Wttk Wttk Of Lilt 1 BRUCHOFFAITH,byTh*adorcH.Whitf.(Athtiiwinand 1 14 Reader's Digest Press, $10.95.) 2 TM,byHaroWH.Bloomfield,M.O.,andMlchailP«ttrCaln 2 12 and Dennis T. Jafft. (Otlacortt, $8.95.) 3 SYLVIA PORTER'S MONEY BOOK, by Sylvia PorUr. 4 7 (Doubkday, $12.50.) 4 TOTAL FITNESS, by Laurence E.Morchouse and Leonard 3 17 Gross. (Simon & Schuster, $6.95.) 5 CONVERSATIONS WITH KENNEDY, by Benjamin C. 7 14 Bradlee,( Norton, $7.95.) 6 HOW THE GOOD GUYS FINALLY WON, by Jimmy Breslin. 5 12 (Viking Press, $6.95.) 7 WITHOUT FEATHERS, by Woody Allen. (Random House, 8 3 $7.95.) 8 THE ASCENT OF MAN, by J.Bronowski. (Little, Brown, 6 23 $17.50.) 9 THE SAVE YOUR LIFE DIET, by David Reuben, M.D. 10 4 (Random House, $7.95.) 10 KATE, by Charles Higham. (Norton, $7.95.) 9 lt*ud «n rwtrtt Own rim dun V» kWkMrt* In 111 < Stain. Wttkt are n*t ntctturtv ccnMcuttv*. MrtMlMM ones,,.', whose names and maneuverings highlight, intensity and manipulate the plot the way they shocked, stirred and changed the American psyche, to the accompaniment of the sensational newspaper headlines they produced. An Important part of Doctorow's genius in the novel is his ability to produce vivid Images of major events, then set them against quick, short sentence bursts that expose their Ironies. For example, Henry Ford, employer of many men (a good number of them foreign- born), a believer that most men are too dumb to make a good living, watches a new auto plop down off the assembly line and the car's twin appear exactly six minutes later. He experiences "an ec- stasy greater and more intense taan that vouchsafed to any American before him, not excepting Thomas Jefferson." He allots 60 seconds "for a display of sentiment." Then Doctorow concludes his description of the event with the observation that Ford "loved birds and animals and counted among his friends John Burroughs, an old naturalist who studied the humble creatures of the woodland — chipmunk and raccoon, junko, wren and chickadee." In Doctorow's vision of the era, fact and fiction, reality and Interpretation merge and become integral, inseparable parts of a narrative that exposes the foibles and Idlosyn- cracies of one of our nation's most complex and confusing eras. —Gary Heinlein A trio of reviews in brief Uncle Whiskers, by Philip Brown, illustrated by Eric Taasley (88 pages); Little, Brown, $5.95. A fragile, and true, story with haunting appeal is this one of a courageous cat named Uncle Whiskers who lived yean on literally two feet, his hind ones. An accident robbed him of one front leg and maimed the other. His stout heart and brave spirit and lively intelligence kept him going, helped him to be a dedicated hunter and stalwart company for the Browns. Philip Brown is a British naturalist and his little book is a touching memorial. Cat-lover or no, you will appreciate it. Heaven and Hell and the Megas Factor, by Robert Nathaa (113 pages); Dela- certe. 15.95. It is such a joy, in the midst of books on problems. of exposes, of novels inhabited by characters you are thankful you never knew to read this slight whimsy-fantasy about a joint effort of Heaven and Hell to reform human beings. If the author's name were not on the book, you would stiil know it for a Robert Nathan creation — he has been doing such delicate and witty little philosophies and commentaries on humanity for years. In bis latett be. has Buck- thorne, from Hell, meeting a pretty, other-worldly girl, Sophia, from Heaven, on the streets of New York City. He saves her from muggen and their romance and crusade begin. The hope of a cure for crime. A microbe? Unlikely? Probably. De- ligbtful? Ob, yes. Waiting to Hear From William, by Babs H. Deal; Doo- bleday, $5.95. William Mclaughlin, a writer with a great interest in the occult, has died and left a clause in his will that requests his widow Flora, brother Hank and friend Ted to assemble in the McLaughlin home in Dutchess county, New York — to wait for him. He has planned to return. Some engrossing conversation, meditation, argument take place among the waiters. Also some scary happenings. Good hammock reading. -C.B. A Beautiful Picture Is Only as Good as Its FRAME! .let us h«lp you with the proper selection. 1ft 07 ABB All ""US lU/o Urr TkisWNkOily Lramgs and art loth?:, . 187. She wrote of society's rejects The Leiely Hunter A Bi- egratty of Canon McCullen, •y Virginia Spencer Carr (III pages); Doobleday, tlt.10. Gore Vidal didn't like "her self-loving arias." A friend hoped she would not be "depicted biographically for posterity cloakrdfir White or wearing a halo." To an acquaintance, she "had a terrible power of destruction." Someone else called her "the Iron butterfly." But her mother loved Lulu Canon Smith. From the child's birth, Marguerite Smith aimed her eldest daughter for something special. Marguerite Smith was a Fame Mother, pushing her daughter toward great goals. The daughter, as ;Carson McCullen, took little • time to achieve those goals of fame and literary distinction,, in "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter," "The Ballad of the' Sad Cafe" and "The Member of the Wedding." But the cost was high. Carson McCullers — chronicler of the lonely, the isolated, the grotesque — went through life as "both a Joy and a burden," biographer Virginia Spencer Carr says. This excellent, full- .scale biography covers her illnesses, her psychic difficulties, her marriage(s) to James Reeves McCullers, jr., a .fellow southerner and a good storyteller whose dream of being a writer was swamp-. ed by his wife's success and his own dependence. Reeves's househusbandry and periodic care served her special genius, but Canon always asked for more.than most other human beings would or could give. She had a craving for company, for attention; for adulation that was insatiable through a life riddled with strokes, broken bones, a heart attack, breast cancer. Her bisexual nature unhinged her relationship with Reeves, and her drinking, through her whole adult life, took a heavy toll of her own creativity and other individuals' psychic energy. "She needed a certain amount of alcohol in her system to function creatively," Mrs. Carr says. This constant need for "a little toddy for the body" that runs through her life has the cumulative effect of making the interested reader want to swear off alcohol forever. As adept as she was in empathizing with society's rejects, she herself "seemed to plead constantly for approval" and "again and again played the role of a wounded sparrow." A literary success at 23 with "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter," Carson did most of her good writing early. 'For the second 25 years of her life, she was largely an invalid. That, coupled with her need always to be king of the mountain, drained Reeves arid ultimately left him alone in France with his own self- destructive urges. He finally committed suicide. Canon McCullers died in 1967, having fought her losing battle for a quarter of a century and having written her last book. "Clock Without Hands," against literally painful odds. Though this "life" is a well-written account, It at to Carson McCulleri's art, $1 her life, that one mutt to* for strengths. In her life are weaknesses and destructive qualities that were readily understood but not as easily forgiven by many who katw her. — Joan Bunk* Canon McCullers Who's keeping a diary now? Dog Days at the White House, by Traphes Bryant with Frances Spatz Leighton (332 pages); Macmillan, Good grief, another snitch at the White House. This one, for crying out loud, kept track of the presidential job apparently that did not tire him greatly since he also kept a diary and, following the lead ?f maids and •cooks before him, turned it over to • writer and presto,, another glimpse through the keyholes at the White House. Traphes Bryant started out working for President Tru- man as an electrician and was appointed keeper of the dogs by President Kennedy. He continued in that role until 1973 when he retired during the Nixon second term. It stands to reason that even a dedicated dog fancier would be hard put to write 332 pages about presidential canines, and Bryant doe* not disappoint. On the ruse that he has an anecdote about President Kennedy's dog, Pushlnka, Bryant really has an anecdote about Kennedy's skinny-dip- ping'in the White House pool with a tall blonde girl on the day that Jacqueline Kennedy was off on a trip of some sort. Now comes the good part. Mrs. Kennedy returns unexpectedly (did she forget her purse?) and while the staff sounds the alarm everyone scatters. President Johnson apparently was the dog-lovingest president Bryant served and of coune he recounts the famous Incident when LBJ lifted one of Ala beagles of/ the around by its ears. There is no picture of this incident, however, amazing in that the book contains 65'pictures of presidents and their dogs and their families. If you like a little bit about dogs and a lot of gossip. you'll love Bryant's book. I didn't, finding myself yawning over a line that Pat Nixon did not sleep in the same bed with her husband as Bess Truman had with her husband. In fact I found myself worrying about poor President Ford. Somewhere in the White House right now is a gardener, or a cook, or a valet who is scribbling and scribbling each night in a diary in order to satisfy the public's insatiable desire to peep through the keyholes at the White House. — Gene Raffcnsperget Wll bookyou on a tour at your new mldenbooks. Special Value Booki Young Reader* Diet Books Art Gardening Biography Cookbuoki Phutoinphy ETC OPEN NOW at Valley West, West Des Moines. Lower Level of Mall II IK RANDOM DK.TIONAKY n( the l..V,USH LAN<;I AU. i WIN THE RANDOM HOUSE i DICTIONARYOFTHE ! ENGLISH LANGUAGE j Unabridged,worth : S35.(X). Yours if your name is drawn in our drawing. Hourb: Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon. thru Fr Sat. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sun. 12 noon to 5:30 p.m. Your new Waldenbooks Store is the place to visit whenever the bookworm in you needs a little attention. You can come in and browse all day if you want to. Our people can show you bonks .ualore on any subject that . intercuts you.They can also y show you to our special value books, the kind that can save you a lot of money. So come and let us introduce ourselves at your new Waldenbooks Store. Phone 225-1753

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