Books: Slack-Wire Miracles

My Name is ARAM—William Saroyan—Harcourt, Brace ($2.50).

Aram (rhymes with a bomb) Garoghlanian (pronounced "Gar, pause, oghlan, slight pause, ian") is the narrator, for William Saroyan, of 14 semi-autobiographical semi-stories of an Armenian childhood in Fresno, Calif. They are, in their modest way, the best writing William Saroyan has done. But like all Saroyan's work, they are likable or loathsome, depending on the reader's taste.

Aram has as many eccentric uncles as Gracie Allen. Each of them is worth a Saroyan comic-tear or two. Uncle Melik "was just about the worst farmer that ever lived." On his godforsaken desert farm, he set...

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