Books: Shear Drama

THE PROMISE by Chaim Potok. 358 pages. Alfred Knopf. $6.95.

Several years ago a rather unlikely candidate rose like cream to the top of the fiction list. Rabbi Chaim Potok's first novel, The Chosen, never alluded to sex. It was a wholesome chronicle about the making of a rabbi, built around a single unforgettable baseball game between two Brooklyn Yeshivas. Though the telling was often crude, the tale itself was brief and poignant.

Much of the credit for the Cinderella publishing story goes to Robert Gottlieb, then the editorial genie in residence at Simon &...

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