Books: The Shaman of Sarsaparilla

THE SOLID MANDALA by Patrick White. 309 pages. Viking. $5.

Only someone able to define to a child what a spiral is without moving his right index finger can properly admire Patrick White's latest novel.

Only someone confident of his ability to demonstrate both a right-hand and left-hand spiral at the same time would have written The Solid Mandala.

Patrick White is such a confident contortionist. His double-spiraled mandala is the Hindu symbol of totality embedded in a glass marble, and his vast pretension is to spin out this bauble to encompass all human life in the person of its owner—an Australian half-wit half-man...

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