Books: Missouri Weltschmerz

THE CHOIR INVISIBLE (311 pp.)—Marianne Mauser — McDowell, Obolensky ($3.95).

The hero of this novel ferries forth on the river Styx as matter-of-factly as if he were boating at a church social. Floyd Walker is a handsome, 32-year-old bank teller—and sparetime choirmaster—who has leukemia. With apologetic hems and haws, the town doctor of Ophelia, Mo. announces the sentence: three months, more or less, to live. In sleepy little Ophelia (pronounced "afailure") the drama of life has no acts, only intermissions, and Floyd is scarcely prepared for center stage in the town's morbidly engaged affections. He makes only one promise to himself: "From...

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