Endangered Pleasures


byBarbara Holland.Little, Brown, 192 pages, $18.45.
Ms. Holland’s amusing essays defend “Naps, Bacon, Martinis, Profanity, and Other Indulgences,” and do it well. Her basic enemy is what she sees as overextension of the work ethic—a state of mind linking taxes to morality, “by which everything that produces taxable income is fine with us; losing your shirt at Las Vegas or Pimlico is unfortunate but morally okay; losing it at the Saturday-night poker game is wicked, because the winners won’t be telling the IRS.” The pleasures Ms. Holland celebrates produce no taxable income, and she is fair about her selection. There are, she points out, “those who disapprove of idleness, gin rummy, slang, song, unauthorized sex, naps, socialism, and jacuzzis for moral reasons. They enjoy it; moral indignation is a pleasure, often the only pleasure, in many lives. It’s also one of the few pleasures people feel obliged to force on other people.” Ms. Holland is not trying to force pleasures on anyone. She merely reminds us that many are there for the taking.