Books: An Outcast Hero

CAT AND MOUSE, by Günter Grass. 189 pages. Harcourt, Brace & World. $3.95.

Like many another European writer who grew up under Adolf Hitler, German Novelist Gunter Grass, 36, is a man shadowed by the cruelty and grotesquerie of life. The groans and squeaks, the howls and primitive chuckles of his first hero, a prurient dwarf named Oskar Mazerath, made Grass's The Tin Drum the most powerful first novel to come out of Germany in a generation.

In his second book Grass has turned to another grotesque—a gawky adolescent named Joachim Mahlke who is...

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