Books: Surprisingly Sensitive Soul

THE NICE AMERICAN (310 pp.]—Gerald Sykes—Creative Age ($3).

Twenty-five years ago, a good many U.S. intellectuals were buying one-way tickets to Paris to escape their countrymen's "cultural Philistinism." After a while, with thinning hair and dampened enthusiasm, they began to drift home. One U.S. highbrow who refused to join the trek to Paris was Gerald Sykes. Stay home and work for what you want, he told his fellow intellectuals; in his tidy novel, The Nice American, he is still offering pretty much the same advice.

Novelist Sykes's hero is Lieut. Colonel Harlan Childress, engineer by trade and artist by instinct, who...

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