Books: So Young, So False

THE NOTION OF SIN (217 pp.)—Robert McLaughin—Simon & Schuster ($3.50).

Sometimes there comes a point, even at the best-run cocktail party, when a drinker, momentarily alone in a corner, nervously jiggles the ice cubes in his glass and looks about with a glance that says unmistakably: "What am I doing here?" At that moment, the bright, articulate men sound empty and the chic, smiling women appear sad. This detached mood of mild horror is usually gone with the next drink, but Novelist McLaughlin has made it last the length of a very good short novel.

His characters are the kind whose gay yet...