Books: Man in Search of a Hero

STEPHEN CRANE (347 pp.)—John Berryman—Sloane ($3.75).

Only horses, dogs and children got very close to Stephen Crane while he lived. In the half century since his death, two biographers have tried to crash the circle. Thomas Beer's study in 1923 recreated the '90s more vividly than it did Crane. Poet John Berryman sticks closer to his subject, but the reader may still wonder occasionally whether he is on the trail of a man or a mirage.

Stephen Crane was born in Newark in 1871. He was the frail 14th child of a gentle Methodist pastor...

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