Mr. Perlmutter, being a Jew, necessarily grew up in a triple capacity: as Jew-watcher, Gentile-watcher, and God-watcher. This collection of short pieces on various incidents and events in his career as a watcher is intended to provide an insight into the author's Jewish neshuma and, to a less extent, into his affiliated political convictions. But an essential question goes unanswered in the book: Why? Why the book? There is little or nothing in it that is essentially new to anyone, Jew or Gentile, who grew up in any part of this country in the '30's and '40's. There is even less in the author's approach or style to make identification with those events an agreeable experience. The pale imitation of Salinger in the early chapters, and the often pointless excursions into such areas as camp movies in the later ones, make this book something of a puzzle, editorially and critically -- perhaps one that is not worth solving.