Books: Dialogues with Death

A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE (272 pp.) —Peter S. Beagle—diking ($3.95).

Although the 20th century has perfected abundant death to match its abundant life, it is deficient in literary spooks—apart from Thome Smith's thanatipsy Topper. In a first novel that is both sepulchral and oddly appealing. Author Beagle sets out to make good the omission. His tale is a muted, wistful love story that takes tone and title from Andrew Mar-veil's wry lines To His Coy Mistress: The grave's a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace.

The hero is a small, grey pharmacist named Jonathan Rebeck who...

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