Books: From Philistia to Bohemia

PRIVATE COLLECTION by Jean Starr Untermeyer. 295 pages. Knopf. $5.95.

At 13, after a family quarrel, Jean Starr decided to commit suicide. When she opened her bedroom window in Zanesville, Ohio, she was afraid to jump and compromised by trying to beat out her brains with a hairbrush. This serio comic vein runs throughout her new book, which describes a lifelong love affair with art and with artists, "those people who have been most meaningful to me."

Parading Lions. After the abortive suicide, the gawky adolescent girl was sent to a boarding school in Manhattan,...

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