Margot Mifflin
June 06, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Dreaming of Hitler: Passions & Provocations

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Daphne Merkin
genre
Essays

We gave it a B

Whether she’s describing her breast reduction or the Gary Gilmore execution, Daphne Merkin employs a steely intelligence and courageous candor. But her frankness in Dreaming of Hitler: Passions & Provocations is a double-edged sword: Some of these essays — which span her messy divorce, her penchant for spanking as foreplay, and her obsession with Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz — rip into a private domain that might be better handled by a less middlebrow writer. One heart-stopping childhood detail, however, explains her intrepidness: To endure difficult situations, her German Jewish mother suggested, ”just imagine you’re in a concentration camp.” No wonder Merkin grew up to be a cultural critic with a zeal for tackling the taboo. B

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