Books: What Love ls And Is Not

THE INSTRUMENT by John O'Hara. 297 pages. Random House. $5.95.

When John O'Hara drove up to Random House's Italian Renaissance parking lot in his grey Rolls-Royce and turned over his latest instant novel, he delivered the goods once more. The Instrument ranks considerably below the early and best O'Hara, but it is an effective short novel, cynical beyond redemption, pertinent as a suicide note.

The title is a typical O'Hara stunt, The Instrument refers explicitly to the way in which Yancey ("Yank") Lucas becomes the literary tool of an actress. It also refers to Yank's penis,...

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