Books: Out of Eden

THE GIRLS OF SLENDER MEANS by Muriel Spark. 176 pages. Knopf. $3.95.

As the climax of a comic novel, the scene seems a touch strenuous. Here are 13 young women, some of them naked and lubricated with soap, desperately trying to squirm to salvation through a tiny bathroom window in a burning London house. Happily, no one excels Scots-born Novelist Muriel Spark at the satiric art of making the outrageous seem natural—and the natural outrageous. In The Girls of Slender Means she not only gets away with trial by hip-size in the bathroom but thriftily makes it a moment of religious crisis....

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