Books: Character Assassination

THROUGH THE HOOP (351 pp.)—Michel Del Castillo—Knopf ($4.95).

Spanish-born Michel Del Castillo, 30, spent a harrowing childhood in European concentration camps, but was able to recall his experiences calmly and compassionately in a widely praised first novel, Child of Our Time. In his third novel, Del Castillo is more belligerent and less interesting. He now seems bent on taking revenge on all the adults who blighted his childhood in Franco's Spain.

There are enough villains to populate Dante's Inferno: priests, bishops, mothers, fathers, Falangists, high society, low society, expatriates. Del Castillo is a kind of chatty Virgil who takes his readers on...

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