Books: Laugh When It Hurts

LET ME COUNT THE WAYS by Peter De Vries. 307 pages. Little, Brown. $5.

No reader has any business being amused, or even feeling comfortable, in the company of Peter De Vries. At one irrepressible level, the man masquerades as a humorist, perfectly capable of reeling out one outlandishly felicitous conceit after another. The conceits abound in this book. "Get divorced while you're young," says one character to another. This is not funny. It is in the same key as that timeless anecdote of the Indian victim, trussed and scalped, who is asked bv his saviors if he is in any pain....

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