PRISONER OF GRACE (301 pp.)Joyce CaryHarper ($3).
Dickens is deadand who cares? Dickens was an old-fashioned sentimentalist who roared with laughter at his own comic caricatures and wept buckets over his pathetic children and heroines whiter (and frailer) than the driven snow. But Dickens had gusto. So did Mark Twain; so did Kipling; so did H. G. Wells.
Gusto is not a common characteristic of present-day writers. Their most notable common trait is resignationa resignation that sometimes dresses itself up in a splendid refusal to surrender, a defiant rejection of the unconditional...