by Phoebe Adams
Good bad books, although regrettably scarce, are not unknown, but a good nonbook is something quite new in the world. It is a unique and surprising pleasure to report the appearance of a good nonbook. It is called ANDY WARHOL’S INDEX [BOOK] (Random House, $12.95; $4.95 paper), and presumably Mr. Warhol is responsible for it, but don’t be misled by that word, book, into expecting to read it. The thing is a marvelously amusing construction which pops, squeaks, unfolds extra flaps, and extrudes what looks like a Cubist bomb on a string. It also reeks goatishly of glue, but this aspect may be a happening. The package contains a lot of photographs of Mr. Warhol and film-making friends, all looking scruffy with the same stylized determination that Hollywood devotes to looking elegant. It contains some satirical and even literate printed matter, and ultimately, more or less against the principles of the proprietor, it makes a point: art is what an artist does, and discussion of it is irrelevant. This idea, generally adopted, could save us all a lot of trouble.
ONE OF OUR MILLIONAIRES IS MISSING (Grove, $4.50), by the Danish author LEIF PANDURO, is a novel so light that one is tempted to anchor it with a paperweight. In this frippy tale, one Jonsson, grown frightfully rich in the United States, proposes to make a quiet visit to Denmark, his childhood home, to which he hasn’t given a thought in sixty years. Since the old pirate is a valuable, and somewhat fragile, national resource, he ends up traveling on a government mission, dogged by a doctor, a psychiatrist, a security force, a bevy of servants, and a mad old Swedish sidekick from Texas. Mr. Panduro, cheerfully disrespectful of everything, rolls official entertainment, psychiatry, medicine, and sentimental childhood memories into a muddle that recalls the inventions of P. G., or, in another medium, Rube Goldberg. On the side, Mr. Panduro clobbers policemen (stupid), security officers (stupider), spies (stupid and lazy), and diplomats (stupid, lazy, and drunk). Nationality has nothing to do with the matter. The Danish police are as dumb as anybody, while the Russian and American spies are equally indolent and incompetent. Their chief amusement is a running bet on whose boss will get drunker at the next reception. The book is a positive massacre of sacred cows, executed with wit. It is a pity that this farce of harmlessness in high places cannot be called realistic.
I AM A LOVER (Angel Island, $5.95; $3.95 paper) is a reissue of a still fascinating picture book. The photographs, by Jerry Stoll, show people ambling about their business in the multiracial, semi-artistic, semi-slum neighborhood of Telegraph Hill. The pictures are accompanied by quotations, selected from a wild variety of sources by Evan S. Connell, Jr. This jigsaw text is sometimes ironic, sometimes sentimental, sometimes savage, and now and then superbly, deliberately irrelevant.
BRAVO STRAVINSKY (World, $15.00) is an unusual portrait of an artist. ARNOLD NEWMAN, photographer, and ROBERT CRAFT, Stravinsky’s friend and colleague, followed the composer about through weeks of work, concerts, plane trips, parties, and more work. While Newman took pictures (Stravinsky refused to pose or to repeat an action that had been missed), Craft asked questions, argued, listened, and took notes. The method could easily have led to syrupy canonization, but has not; what emerges is valuable information from and about Stravinsky, his music, his philosophy, and his memories.
FINLAND (Praeger, $7.50) by ELLA KIVIKOSKI is part of the Ancient Peoples and Places series. Professor Kivikoski, a veteran and distinguished Finnish archaeologist, describes the identifiable prehistoric cultures of the country with the precision one would expect and with occasional dryly humorous implications. She observes, of the late prevalence of offering stones in certain inland areas, that it “is not so much because they were more characteristic of those districts, as because they were further from the bishop’s palace in Turku. . . .” The prehistoric cultures of Finland had a strong resemblance to those elsewhere in Scandinavia, both in what the people made and in what they chose to import. Professor Kivikoski detects a network of trading operations that ran from the west coast of Norway to the lake behind what is now Stockholm to southern Finland, and from there east into Russia or southward to the Mediterranean. She also discusses the distribution of the inhabitants of Finland, which varied considerably from one period to another for reasons that archaeology has yet to determine with any certainty. The objects that traveled, or in some cases merely roosted, through all this long-gone moving and commerce are very well pictured in ISTVÁN RÁCZ’S EARLY FINNISH ART (Praeger, $15.00). They range from pieces of quartz, bashed to a handy shape some 9000 years ago, through stone axes of satiny, lethal elegance, to silver jewelry with Christian motifs.
JESSE HILL FORD’S collection of short stories, FISHES, BIRDS AND SONS OF MEN (Atlantic —Little, Brown, $5.95), includes some that have appeared in the Atlantic.