Books: The Canker of Comedy

COLOR OF DARKNESS (175 pp.)—James Purdy—New Directions ($3.50).

In the title piece of this strange short-story collection, an emotionally disturbed child kicks his father in the groin. In Don't Call Me by My Right Name a man and wife take turns beating each other up. In Plan Now to Attend a hypocritical evangelist gets blind drunk in midmorning. In Sound of Talking a crippled husband makes his wife share his suffering. Almost all the women characters are fat and fortyish; almost all the men are shamed and unhappy. The poor are most often feebleminded,...

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