A collection of features and interviews with authors, artists, linguists, and others on the theme of communication, its purpose and technique. Nabokov, for example, declares that his art consists of ""mustering the best words, with every available lexical, associative, and rhythmic assistance, to express as closely as possible what one wants to express."" Naipaul calls his writing ""a form of incompleteness. . . of anguish. . . of despair."" But the concern is not strictly literary: Shenker includes considerations of the language of Congo drums, Italian gestures, British stammers; of artists, cartoonists, and photographers. His interviews reflect eccentricities of personality -- S. J. Perelman's ouija board and his mynah bird; and the turmoil of the '60's -- Groucho Marx on kids' today: "". . . If they don't obey, give them the cat-o-nine tails."" The collection is so diverse that it is difficult to categorize; the features can be urbane, profound, or lightweight. Shenker is a deft interviewer who permits his presence to be seen, but only in relief to his subject.