Books: Doomsayer's Diary

NOTES FROM A BOTTLE FOUND ON THE BEACH AT CARMEL (243 pp.)-Evan S. Conne Jr.-Viking ($6).

Notes consigned to bottles are customarily desperate but rarely written in free verse. Evan S. Connell's are both. Manipulated by a better-than-good young novelist, the mixture turns out to be a hard-to-follow but strangely effective message from Connell to what he clearly believes is a doomed world.

At first look, Notes sounds like the disordered rambling of a demented candidate for a degree in universal knowledge who has tossed his index cards into the nearest bottle after emptying it at a gulp. His note writer is a...

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