Books: Faintly Bitter

THE SHORT STORIES OF CONRAD AIKEN (416 pp.)—Duell, Sloan & Pearce ($5).

Last week Georgia-born Poet-Novelist Conrad Aiken, 61, began a one-year term as consultant in poetry at the Library of Congress. For Aiken, as for other U.S. writers who have held the $5,000-a-year post,* the appointment was both a public honor and a chance to write new poems and stories without having to worry too much how they sell.

Bestsellers have never been Conrad Aiken's forte. He reached the peak of his reputation during the '20s, when he wrote long and languid narratives about...

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