The Dog Star, by Doubleday, $3.00..
In these twelve stories set in the village of Arcadia in upstate New York, Mr. Jackson backtracks from The Lost Weekend and shows us the boyhood and adolescence of Don Birnam during the years l912 to 1918. The title piece is something of a stunt. Cast as a reply to a letter asking why he neglects the sunnier side of life, it interweaves reflections on the craft of fiction with the life stories of the three girlhood companions of Jackson’s correspondent, who grew up in Arcadia. Their destinies were, respectively, nymphomania and alcoholism; obesity and accidental death; unhappy marriage climaxed by murder of husband, child, and self. Most of the other eleven tales in the book hinge on the sexual tensions of the teens, dramatized against a background of smalltown mores.
Mr. Jackson again displays marked narrative ability, but even so he is unequal to making his subject matter seem other than trivial and unpleasant in the majority of these pieces.
Your Trip Abroad: The Handbook of Pleasure Travel, by Richard Joseph. Doiddeday, $2.95.
Though addressed primarily to prospective innocents abroad, this unusually comprehensive and intelligently planned handbook contains a good deal of information that will come in useful to the seasoned traveler. The author is inclined to write the ruthlessly folksy, tirelessly bouncy brand of prose that has become the professional patois of today’s travel dopesters, but otherwise his book shows a pretty civilized point of view — it starts out, very sensibly, by rebutting the mischievous legend that every foreigner is hell-bent on plundering the American visitor.
Mr. Joseph manages to dispense a phenomenal amount of factual information about all of the countries in Western Europe except Spain; about most of South America; Mexico and the Caribbean; and Hawaii. In addition to dealing with such obvious matters as fares, hotels, and prices, he lists restaurants, night clubs, outstanding shops, and “useful addresses" (pharmacies, travel agencies, consulates, and so forth). He offers sight-seeing itineraries and goes very thoroughly into the problem of tipping in each country. Your Trip Abroad is the best of the comprehensive travel books which have been put out to date.