cover image The Mirror Maker

The Mirror Maker

Primo Levi. Schocken Books Inc, $16.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-8052-4076-4

Like Other People's Trades, a collection of Levi's essays issued earlier this year, this assemblage of two poems, 12 stories and 21 essays consists of an ""extreme dispersion of themes, tones, and cycles of approach."" Originally written for La Stampa over a period of more than 20 years, the brief, experimental, fantastic, metaphysical pieces discuss astronauts, gossip, Kafka, Manhattan, poetry, wine adulterants, the origins of life, defiance in the Warsaw Ghetto, East-West negotiations, Jack London's The Call of the Wild . Also featured are interviews with an ant, giraffe, gull, mole, spider and E. coli. Although selected for this book by Levi himself, the pieces seem not as polished or satisfying as the earlier collection, and may be read less for their intrinsic merit than because they are by Primo Levi. (Oct.)