Books: Forever Babbitt

MR. SMITH (278 pp.)—Louis Bromfield —Harper ($3).

One morning while shaving, Wolcott Ferris, prosperous insurance broker, froze before his bathroom mirror as if he had seen a shrunken head. He had seen something worse: his shrunken self. "What are you missing?" he asked his blue-grey eyes. "Why the hell do you exist? Why do you go on living?" Why had life been picked clean to the bones short of 40?

All the answers Ferris can dredge up are corroded with hate and futility. He loathes his job, is desperately weary of the daily stint on...

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