Books: Any Small Town

INTO THIN AIR (257 pp.)—Warren Beck—Knopf ($3).

On a residential street in the Midwestern town of Cedarsville, workmen were razing the fine old Johnston residence. At an upper window of his own house next door, Ralph Kempner watched the daily progress of destruction from a wheelchair, and backtracked in memory over the 70-odd years of his life. Cedarsville folk naturally wondered what old Kempner was thinking about, because he had always been such a cold, silent fish.

His memories were no one else's business, of course, but they would have made a field day for the gossips.

A Few Trips. Into Thin Air is...

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