Books: Journey into Night

THE STARS GROW PALE (310 pp.)—Karl Bjarnhof—Knopf ($4).

One test of a writer is whether he can find words for the things that are too terrible for words. Denmark's Karl Bjarnhof, 60, passes the test brilliantly in The Stars Grow Pale, the sensitive story of a boy slowly going blind. In Author Bjarnhof's hands, a theme that might have been merely harrowing or touching takes on the larger complexities of a boy's awakening sensibilities in a small provincial town amid a home life both flintily pious and grindingly poor. What brands the young hero's...

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