ALEXAXDERPLATZ, BERLIN Alfred Doblin; translated by Eugene Jolas Viking ($5).
The birth of books is never quite legitimate, and often their parentage is hopelessly confused. Few carry their lineage so plainly in their lineaments as Alexanderplatz, Berlin, first Big Book obviously fathered by Maestro James Joyce's potent, muchdiscussed, comparatively little-read Ulysses. Author Doblin makes no acknowledgment to Maestro Joyce; none is necessary.
Like Ulysses, Alexander platz is a many-charactered merry-go-round with one unheroic central figure bobbing through the realistic din. Not less topical than Ulysses, Alexander platz is more sordid, more...