Books: The Grey Plague

LETTING Go (630 pp.)—Philip Roth—Random House ($5.95).

Perhaps writers should solve the second-book problem the way architects solve the 13th-floor problem. By skipping directly from first book to third, an author could avoid the mantraps invariably laid for the second: his own crippling desire to pile wonder upon wonder; and the phenomenon of suddenly small-hearted critics, eager to deflate what they can no longer discover. By the third book, of course, the writer has seen his limits, and forgiving critics are willing to let him develop at his own pace.

Now it is Philip...

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