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combination of skül and savvy. Because they have metis—and metis cannot be taught, only acquired— Bobos adjust easily to new and challenging situations. At home with the concept of interrelatedness and possessing a gift for improvisation, Bobos have the perfect mind-set for a fluid society such as ours. For them there are no obstacles, only a series of problems to be solved. In readable prose, Brooks examines virtually every aspect ofBobo life: where they live, what they buy, how they love, what they believe, how they play and what we, as a nation, can expect from them in the future. Given the power of their collective intelligence as well as the wealth it generates, Bobos are fast becoming America's new standard-setters. They are the ones transforming small towns and small urban neighborhoods into communities centered on a coffee shop, books and a bike path. They are the ones designers have in mind when they create cars with yesteryearbodies and high-tech engines. And they are the ones who pay more than lip service to the idea of tolerance for all, for if Bobos have one credo, it's the orthodoxy of moderation. Bobos in Paradise does not purport to be a definitive scholarly study. It does, however, purport to explain why we suddenly find.ourselves paying seven dollars for a bar of oatmeal soap, contemplating a second home in Montana and trying to conjure a sense of community in a Tuscan-tiled kitchen while enjoying risotto croquettes with a group of individuals much like ourselves—people whose quests for achievement have left them feeling displaced and longing for roots. As with Bobo culture as a whole, there's much to admire in Brooks's book. Try it with hazelnut. (PS) The Silent Woman by Susan Dodd Wiltiam Morrow, 2001, 322 pp., $25 Susan Dodd's new novel, The Silent Woman, set in Germany in the World War I period, is based on the life and artistic career of Oskar Kokoschka. It vividly portrays the painter-protagonist 's obsession for Alma Mahler (also a historical figure), lost to him in the prewar era, inaccessible now—at least in the flesh. Oskar nears madness as he struggles to reclaim his goddess , his "Aphrodite." Dodd's novel is an insightful study of the psychology of obsession as well as of the nature of the ideal in the Romantic theory of art. Back from the war, wounded, a victim of shell shock, Oskar is "newly dead and safe" inDresden. Passionless, soulless, he must somehow reclaim his lost "Almi" in order to regain his potency—forlife as well as art. Oskar's obsession reveals, on a more general level, the absence of "coherence" in an age when the ideal has been tragically lost in the aftermath of carnage. For Oskar, there is personal chaos but suddenly hope: ifAlma is lost in the flesh, she is available, he discovers, in fetish via the work of one Hermine Moos, a Stuttgart dollmaker and Alma Mahler's dressmaker, who knew Alma intimately. Oskar immediately commissions Moos to fashion his own life-sized figure of Alma. His complex vision of his goddess as art object/lover gives unusual power to Dodd's handling of Oskar's romantic and artistic imagination . Oskar orders fine lingerie and The Missouri Review · 203 linen sheets for his "Silent Woman." He entertains the illusion that he is bringing his "woman" back to him, and he recoils with disgust when Fräulein Moos speaks of "Shipment . . . as if his beloved were freight!" For Oskar, the "idol" who will be arriving in a packing crate must be "his bride" for their "honeymoon cottage." He recognizes that he is "devoting himselfto fantasy and falsehood," yethow else "to keep himself alive?" The arrival of the packing crate with the life-sized figure of Alma causes Oskar to realize profoundly the extent of his delusion; this realization leads to considerable pain and suffering. He soon becomes two distinct persons: in public, a vivacious, talkative man; in private, introspective and grieving. If he finds solace in humor, referring to Madame as "rather beastly," inside he is bitterly struggling with the shocking disparity between actual and...


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pp. 203-204
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