The Last Whole Earth Catalog

These two illustrations come from The Last Whole Earth Catalog, recently published in this country by Penguin at £1.75. Apart from weighing 2lbs 11oz, this book is an amazing, illustrated scrapbook of tools and accessories needed for survival on the planet Earth. Scanning through the 450 pages of this mammoth catalogue will keep the purchaser interested and amused for many days and evenings.

Mind Games

A PERSONAL ANTHOLOGY. Written and edited by Jorge Luis Borges. Published by Picador at 45p.

There is no writer who amazes, baffles and intrigues me more than Borges – Argentina’s leading man of letters.

This is the selection of work on which he’d like his reputation to rest. I don’t think it’s his best work. But at least most of it hasn’t been printed in this country before – Penguin’s ‘Labyrinths’ selection draws heavily from the ‘Ficciones’ anthology.

Borges is a writer whose pure logic takes him and your thoughts along straight lines over the edge of the world and back to where you started. If you have grown out of Cosmo’s novelettes and like to think now and again, Borges is your man. This is a good selection of his lunatic-mathematical stories. It’s a pity I can’t like his poetry.

Peter Holmes

Law Triumphs, Justice Doesn’t

The Magician by Sol Stein. Published by New English Library. Paperback, 40p.

One of the most upsetting and at the same time most outstanding novels I have read recently is ‘The Magician’ by Sol Stein. The point of the book is to show that the law doesn’t necessarily equal justice, in fact the two can quite often be used for different ends.

Briefly, the plot is about a vicious assault on a sixteen year old schoolboy and the legal consequences. Much of the story is concerned with the ensuing court case or else in studying the characters of those principally involved — the culprit responsible for the seemingly pointless attack, the parents of the victim and the aggressor, and Ed Japhet, the schoolboy. The novel also comments on the state of American society – not the seamy, junk-neon, spectacular country that is usually over-glamourised, but middle America with its institutions and on-the-surface respectability and tranquility, hiding its inner turmoil.

Sol Stein’s style is both convincing and literate, without ever becoming boring. And the final twist is startling, although not altogether unexpected. A feature film is soon to be made of ‘The Magician’ and if the script is sensibly handled, and without the essence of the story being lost, it should prove to be a major event in cinema.

‘The Magician’ is an important book that has something significant to say. At the same time it is a very captivating book.

Denis Lemon

A Bold Study of Abnormal Sex: World Famous Best Seller

They Live In The Shadows

‘Syphilis’ is no longer a shocking, or even an impolite word. Everywhere, people talk about venereal disease as unfortunate, but natural… and curable.

We’re more broad minded today but not about every thing. Two things – HOMOSEXUALITY AND PROSTITUTION – are still considered by the majority of the population as the lowermost depths of depravity, or subjects for bawdy humour.

As it happens, homosexuals and prostitutes are real people – with very real problems.

Here, for the first time, is a book about what they are like, and what their problems are.

From the blurb, you’d expect the book to be at least controversial. Find out for yourselves. It’s presently being remaindered at only lOp, at several book shops in London, anyway. And you’d hardly guess it was the dear old Wolfenden Report. Dressed in sheep’s clothing?

Bona Bargain Basement

Back to School With Alice

03-197207XX-10“Schools Out” — Alice Cooper — Warner Brothers Records

Whilst riding high on a wave of near overexposure in the press, and following a sell-out, critically acclaimed London concert, out comes Alice Cooper’s new album “School’s out’’. And after four previous albums, this one really makes it.

Musically it is far superior to anything they have done in the past, whilst Alice’s own songs and vocals have become more spectacular. The title track “School’s Out” is a teeny-bopper celebration of the start of the summer vacation. It might sound pretty banal, but wait till you hear it. Alice with his words and bizarre scream/vocals turns it into the Armageddon of all school breakups.

The group’s last albums have each had one or two outstanding tracks, but very little else. However, this time they succeed in producing an album which keeps your attention for more than just the opening track.

The second track is “Looney Tunes”, a seemingly innocent pubescent rock song, until the story takes a nasty twist. White-coated men come to take the song’s hero away. He’s just cut his wrists with a stolen razor.

This is followed by “Gutter Cat versus The Jets” which parodies the plot of “West Side Story’’; in fact it ends up being a straight rip-off from it. This theme reappears on the second side of the album, it’s influence being most noticeable in the symphonic “Grand Finale’’, which ends the album.

The record comes packaged in a facsimile of an old school desk, and the disc is itself tastefully surrounded by a pair of white non-inflammable paper knickers (see Grinspoon for further comments),

“School’s Out” will become one of the pop classics of 1972. It will be hated and ignored by the older and more staid generations, but loved by kids and those who appreciate the essence of what good rock’n’roll is all about.

Doug and Denis.

A PAIR OF WHITE KNICKERS, OR, A GIFT

I was surprised to find that inside the copy of Alice Cooper’s latest long-playing record that the nice man at Kinney (WEA) had sent me, there was a pair of white knickers.

I don’t know how they knew, but they fitted perfectly. In all this hot weather we are having at the moment it’s nice to have something so refreshingly cool to put on.

Know what I mean loves.

Julian Denys Grinspoon.