Books: The Fifth Element

THE STONES OF FLORENCE (130 pp.)—Mary McCarthy—Harcourf, Brace ($15).

The opening words of this book—"How can you stand it?"—bear witness to Author McCarthy's candor. She itemizes the disadvantages in which Florence is rich: the noise, the occasional rudeness, the oppressive summer heat, the lack of nighttime pleasures, the daytime drabness. It is true, she says, that because of the frightening traffic, "Many of the famous monuments have become, quite literally, invisible, for lack of a spot from which they can be viewed with safety." And it is maddeningly true that "As for the museums,...

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