The Dark Fields of Venus


by Basile Yanovsky. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, $7.95. Dr. Yanovsky kept a “logbook” on his work in venereal disease clinics in New York City. His text consists of short sketches of the patients and records of his conversations with them. The patients, most of whom explain their predicament with “You know how it is . . .” quickly become monotonous, but the doctor’s peppery, exasperated opinions do not. In a time awash with permissive sympathy, it is refreshing to come upon a man who has the nerve to believe: (a) anyone above the grade of halfwit should be able to avoid syphilis; (b) anyone, including halfwits, should know how to wash; (c) public clinics should be clean, efficient, and economical.