PASSAGE TO ARARAT
by MICHAEL J. ARLEN
293 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $8.95.
"They were not me and I could never be them." This wholly false conclusion is drawn by the author on his self-styled "voyage" backward through memory, history and time itself. "I" is Michael J. Arlen, the New Yorker critic and memoirist; "they" are Armenians, an obscure folk of Asia Minor who happen to be his blood relatives. For despite an elegant Anglo-American breeding, despite the aristocratic postures of his father, Michael Arlen is the son of Dikran Kouyoumjian, few generations removed from the peasant villages of Transcaucasia.
In an earlier...