Picks and Pans Review: Delcorso's Gallery

updated 10/03/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/03/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Philip Caputo

The hero of this erratic novel is a photographer who can't stay away from wars. He could make lots more money taking pictures for glossy airline advertisements or photographing celebs for magazines, but that makes him feel utterly disgraced. So when he gets a chance to go to Beirut, he grabs it. Never mind his beautiful wife, who doesn't want him to go. For camera subjects, he seeks out war horrors no other photographer will shoot. A friend explains his behavior: "You hate them, these people whose eyes you want to open. You hate them for living ordinary lives. You think they're complacent, so you're going to shock them out of it." In Lebanon, the photographer finds a war that makes even less sense than had the fighting in Vietnam. Caputo, who proved himself a fine reporter with his nonfiction A Rumor of War in 1977, lapses in his fiction into a pseudo-Hemingway style where men are men to a fault; everyone wants to see who can out-macho the other. His details on the photographer at work are accurate and interesting. But while combat photographers are a notoriously eccentric lot, Caputo's characters are too immature and naive to take seriously. The dialogue is mostly four-letter words. (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, $15.95)

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