Books: What's in a Name?

BACK (247 pp.)—Henry Green—Viking ($3).

To a growing U.S. audience, the names of British Novelists Henry Green and Joyce Gary suggest writing that shines with wit and good humor even when they are dealing with serious stuff. Though Gary's work runs to richness and Green's to slyness, they have one thing in common: they make most U.S. novelists of 1950 seem lugubriously pedestrian.

Of Henry Green's eight slim little novels, Back is the third to be published in the U.S. in the last year. It is the least impressive of the three, not nearly so good as Loving, his story of life above...