Books: Child's Garden of Nightmares

THE GIANT DWARFS by Gisela Elsner. 309 pages. Grove Press. $5.95.

The hero of this novel is Leinlein, aged five, the only son of a middle-class couple in postwar Germany. Leinlein is not an ordinary child: he is clubfooted and a genius; he can plot cause and effect, motive and destiny; and in addition he is endowed with searing powers of social criticism. In short, he is one more incarnation of the fashionable new hero of the German novel: a grotesque, who is helpless, unaccountable to society, curiously cynical, yet devastatingly aware —all because...

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