Books: Judgment of Paris

THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY by James Jones. 361 pages. Delacorte. $7.95.

By choice and dedication, James Jones is a peculiarly American American novelist. His method is oldfashioned, gulp-and-sob realism. His characters—most frequently, of late, the American newly rich who took the cash and let the culture go—are presented pretty much in their own words. The result often brings to mind Nancy Mitford's unkind remark that citizens of the U.S. speak English as if wrestling with a foreign tongue. That confronts the thoughtful pro-Jones reader with a dilemma. If Jones takes these clichés seriously,...

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