Books: Fall Into Chaos

THE SNOWS OF YESTERYEAR

by Gregor von Rezzori

Knopf; 290 pages; $19.95

Nostalgia is what we like today: warm, a bit muzzy, with lots of generalizing dips back into a past full of evocative stage props and period business. Memory is another matter. Remembering truthfully is as difficult as inventing well -- indeed, more so; hence the paucity of good memoirs. "You must never undertake the search for time lost," warns the last sentence of Gregor von Rezzori's The Snows of Yesteryear, "in the spirit of nostalgic tourism." The rest of the book shows how carefully he has obeyed this precept.

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