Books: Real People Are Dull

WHAT TIME COLLECTS by James T. Farrell. 421 pages. Doubleday. $5.95.

"And, with pitiless banality, time passed." So writes James T. Farrell on page 399 of his 18th novel, accurately describing the way time has passed for his characters, and for the reader, in the preceding 398 pages. Banality is what Farrell's novel is about, and it is also the novel's sole literary device. The people of the book are joyless, hateless, empty of good or evil, fleshy machines that transmit at the audible level the prattle of Babbittry and, octaves above, the silent...

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