Books: The Need for Risks

THIS HAPPY RURAL SEAT (270 pp )—George Lanning—World ($3.50).

Fifty years ago, Henry James wrote The Beast in the Jungle, a masterful short novel about an aging man who discovers too late, that life has slipped by him. This week 27-year-old George Lanning publishes This Happy Rural Seat, a brilliant first novel in which he spins some subtle variations on the Jamesian theme of the unlived life. A onetime staff member of the highbrow Kenyan Review, Lanning shows a gift for creating complex human beings that marks him as one of the ablest new novelists in some time.

Lanning's hero, Herbert Komar, is...

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