Books: Grace Among the Roaches

THE TENANTS OF MOONBLOOM by Edward Lewis Wallant. 245 pages. Harcourt, Brace & World. $4.50.

Edward Lewis Wallant died of a stroke last year at 36, bequeathing a truly horrifying human map of Manhattan's lower depths. His third novel, The Tenants of Moonbloom, is a chart of misery in the tenements, and his hero (surely the first of his kind in the long history of fiction) is a rent collector.

Wallant's people are the walking wounded and unofficial dead of the affluent society. They inhabit what is known in officialese as "substandard housing,"...

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