HORSE-TRADING AND ECSTASY by Barbara Probst Solomon


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A ragged stocking of a book into which Solomon has stuffed an assortment of literary essays, interviews, political analyses, and a few bits of nostalgia. These miscellaneous writings span the last 30 years and cover such topics as the Hannah Arendt/Eichmann controversy of 1964, the trial of Jean Harris, and the Klaus Barbie trial and its impact on French self-esteem. Among the literati Solomon interviews are Norman Mailer, Lewis Mumford, mad Gregor von Rezzori, author of The Death of My Brother Abel. As an interviewer, Solomon is limited by her seeming inability to keep from injecting herself and her opinions into the conversation. Too often, a potentially interesting discussion sidetracks into an analysis of what Solomon thinks about the subject and, embarrassingly, into what she supposes her interviewees' reactions are to her erudition and sensitivity. In the Mumford interview, for example, Solomon seems more intent on establishing just how she disarmed the reluctant author and how her intuitiveness led her to ask what she seems to consider perceptive questions: "Your questions on city planning bored me," she recalls Mumford telling her near the end of their interview, ". . .but with Melville, you were on the right track." Having been a resident of Europe for many years and having associated with the Spanish left during the Franco regime, Solomon is on steadier ground when she turns her attention to post-Franco politics and to the implications of the war-crimes trials of Eichmann and Barbie. There are many pages of insightful reporting here, but also much that is outdated and self-promotional. A mixed package.

Pub Date: March 28th, 1989
ISBN: 86547-348-X
Publisher: North Point/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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