Books: Iowa Melodrama

STRANGER'S RETURN—Phil Stong—Harcourt, Brace ($2). Only Iowans can properly judge how truly Author Stong's 14th novel* mirrors Iowa life, but any hayseed can tell that Author Stong has seen some strongly improbable cinemas. Author Stong, however, has plentifully seasoned this fare with generous helpings of sardonic Iowa humor. Grandpa Storr, a cross between Falstaff and King Lear, talked like Mark Twain in unexpurgated mood. His language and actions were equally offensive to his household, consisting of: his nephew's wife (wicked), his stepdaughter (foolish), her husband (weak). They sat around like jackals waiting...

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