Books: He Remembers Mama

PROMISE AT DAWN (337 pp.)—Romain Gary—Harper ($5).

French Novelist Romain Gary belongs to a passing breed of men: he admits that whatever he is, he owes to his mother.

Now only 45, Gary has a chestful of medals as a World War II flying hero, serves his country as an able diplomat, knows after seven novels that he can write, and has won for one of them (The Roots of Heaven) the Prix Goncourt. All this, he maintains in this freewheeling autobiography, might not have happened at all had there not been Mama.

Mama was the daughter of a Russian Jewish watchmaker. She grew...

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