Books: Existentialist Comedian

Before an author's works are reprinted in anything but paperback, he is usually dead, or his books have come to be considered classics—or both. John Earth, 36, is alive, and none of his books have yet reached the classical shelf. He has written four novels—The Floating Opera, End of the Road, The Sot-Weed Factor and Giles Goat-Boy. The first three together sold fewer than 8,000 copies. Goat-Boy, the only one that can be called a popular success, sold about 50,000 and showed up briefly on the bestseller lists. Despite this inconclusive reception, The...

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