Books: Lovable Bums & Jolly Slashers

What's wrong with contemporary U.S. writing? In a witty "minority" report called Man in Modern Fiction (171 pp.; Random House; $3.50), Critic Edmund Fuller, 44, explodes with answers. Fuller, novelist (Brothers Divided, A Star Pointed North) teacher in the English department at Connecticut's Kent School, argues that today's most fashionable writers promote and even glorify an image of man as a depraved, immoral creature. Among those he indicts: Norman Mailer, James Jones, Nelson Algren, Tennessee Williams, Paul Bowles. Other Fuller views:

The present decline of compassion (which also is the decline of tragedy) started...

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