Reed Whittemore is the big charmer of the little mags, the gadfly-warrior, the Yale man out on campuses west, whose poems and essays, at least the majority of them, have always been delightful, dynamic ""dabblings"", very distinctly his own. However, a Serious Reputation he has never had, and the collection here, embracing spurts of verse and specimens of critical pieces or stories, won't alter the Party Line stand. Whittemore deals in satires without it he's lost. Everywhere there is the characteristically suave crack, the characteristically flip fancy, whether, fiction-wise it is the girl with the inverted womb, a child's Christmas in New Haven, Daddums and Maddums of the affluent set running through life as if it were a New Yorker ad, the long, limericky lecture on alienation and the artist, or the title essay on the apprehension of the Real with Wells and Shaw as the hard-facts out-of date backs and Ford and Conrad the in-fashion in-depth boys, or his ""countdown"" cantos covering the social muse and the cold war. Through all these Whittemore is in top form, for what he does he does smashingly. But our hero is middle-aging now, and an enfant terrible, however but however rough housing, still majors only and always in the minors. Whittemore's talent is too good for that; he should enlarge, extend, over-reach himself, and no longer end ""inconclusively"" on a ""facetious note"" as he himself admits or shows over and over again throughout The Fascination of the Abomination.