Books: Memories of Grandeur

DeFORD by David Shetzline. 21 7 pages. Random House. $4.95.

David Shetzline, 32, has wandered through the U.S.—from his birthplace in Yonkers, N.Y., to the small ranch in Oregon where he now lives. He has been a ditchdigger, an army parachutist and a college student (Cornell and Columbia). DeFord, his first novel, reflects his experience and the diversity of the nation he knows so well.

Like the author, Lyle DeFord is a wanderer come to rest on the West Coast. He is a carpenter, and a good one, a descendant of hardworking, hard-luck ancestors who...