THE CART AND THE HORSE by Louis Kronenberger
Kirkus Star


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Louis Kronenberger is in a category all his own, not because of his originality but simply because no one else writes his sort of essay anymore: a blend of the old fashioned (modesty and good sense) coupled with the modern (brittle, brisk combativeness). His latest collection centers on the tastemakers, from Madison Avenue to the Academy to the Foundations, those who administer a kind of cultural chloroform, and who are apparently as drugged as anyone else. High, low or middle, in the world of art, society or morals, things are, like the economy, mixed, and mixed-up too. Values are a jumble (one of the chapters plaintively asks Whatever Became of Personal Ethics?); vulgarity is as persistent as TV antonnae, and not only on TV; talent is turned into a ""tool""; the hard edges taken off experience; the Status Search- the wedding of God and Mammon- finds the serious and sensitive on the same road as Babbitt who has changed into an ""enlightened"" businessman anyway, etc. The indictment isn't new of course, and though the attempted analysis into the raison d'etre behind all this isn't either, the book is still a good one: refreshing in style, charming in cultivation and worldly in wit- especially that. There's an epigrammatic knowingness here and it is not assumed-- Kronenberger having had a long run at Time; he has been (and is) a tastemaker (an undrugged one) himself.

Publisher: Knopf