The Patient Has the Floor

by Alistair Cooke. Knopf, $16.95. Mr. Cooke has been called upon to address a number of professional groups other than the medical, and he has approached most of them in the same way. He gives his hearers the layman’s (translation: victim’s) view of their deficiencies, and does it with such courtesy and wit that only the most illtempered and myopic stuffed shirt could complain. His remarks on “The State of the Language” should be required reading for anyone proposing to write anything more complicated than a check. The piece is a fine diatribe against, and compendium of, the pointless euphuisms that clutter American prose. He considers them “barnacles.”