Books: Escape Hatch

EARTH, AIR, FIRE AND WATER (216 pp.) —Alexander Eliot—Simon & Schuster ($5).

Anyone who dares to delve into the condition of 20th century American life is most probably doing it to earn a doctorate. Not so Author Alexander Eliot, 43, an out-of-place, out-of-sorts, self-styled recluse who, on the pine-clad slopes of Mount Pentelikon, near Athens, pondered the question, put down his answer in the dozen meditations of this new book.

Winds of Legend. Anxiety in Americans, says Eliot, stems from their "basically sound awareness that pleasure is not joy." Money can buy pleasure but joy costs more, and can be gained only through...

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