Lifelines worth betting on

HOW CAN YOU RESIST A MAN who's not ashamed to wisecrack: "My wife is a child analyst: I needed someone to cope with my age group - 77 going on eight." Even more beguiling is the way Al Alvarez's conversation bounces along on a constant stream of giggles. Then again, maybe his magnetism emanates from his vigorous intellectual inquisitiveness, even if, as he insists, time has wrought a tectonic shift upon his approach to the arts and his life's work.


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