Books: Suffering for Nothing

THE VICTIM (294 pp.)—Saul Bellow—Vanguard ($2.75).

On the surface, this is a competent little story about a solemn and touchy Jew accused by a fantastic Gentile of having ruined him. But, until a disastrously out-of-key final chapter, it has troubling depths of meaning which make it unusual among new novels.

Asa Leventhal is living alone in his Manhattan apartment while his wife helps her mother move to Charleston. In the barbaric heat of late August he is beset by a nearly forgotten old acquaintance, Kirby Allbee. Down & out, dirty, half drunk, Allbee turns up...

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