Books: True to Tedium

THE BROTHERS ASHKENAZI—I. Singer—Knopf ($3).

European family chronicles that detail the rise & fall of a great fortune usually follow a pattern that permits little lively narrative, few vivid characterizations.

For the loss of these aids to good reading, such books usually possess an elusive quality that critics call solidity: elaborate documentation on the social background, careful discussion of daily family battles, naturalistic reporting on the details of clothing, finances, property. True to this pattern to the point of tedium. The Brothers Ashkenazi resembles a Polish Forsyte Saga packed into one volume, is dullest...

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