THE SECOND STONE by Leslie Fiedler


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Leslie Fielder's first novel is probably as plump a sitting duck as you are likely to find since Fielder, the most obstreperous showman (or showoff?) on the literary scene today has been the American novel's severest and not always fairest critic. On the other hand, it's hard to criticize this Roman spring of some other Stones as a novel; it is a talkathon. It is also generically a matire in which that strident voice can be heard on most of the cultural and racial platforms of the day; there's Fiedler on being a Jew (""Get the gestalt""); Fiedler on being a Negro; Fiedler on the emasculation of the American male; etc., etc. The barest pretense of a narrative concerns Mark and and Hilda Stone (Mark is a Rabbi attending a World Conference on Love sponsored by a contraceptive manufacturer; Hilda is 36 and four months pregnant) when they come to Rome. There they meet Mark's oldest friend, Clem ""the other"" Stone, a National Book Award winning writer who has abandoned his wife and his work. There's an unseductive seduction, a demonstration- against the Americans, and some marital rapprochements (Hilda goes back to Mark; Clem will go back to his wife) ... A shockbuster, much of this would be easier to absorb, even accept, if Fiedler were not so preoccupied with bodily functions, bodily by-products, and what used to be referred to as bad habits. As one of his characters says, ""It is a matter of taste not morality"". How true.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1963
Publisher:  & Day