THE WATER-METHOD MAN
by JOHN IRVING
365 pages. Random House. $6.95.
In John Irving's fine first novel, Setting Free the Bears, two Vienna University students plan to reform the world by liberating the animals in Vienna's Hietzinger Zoo. Now he offers the dislocated odyssey of an Iowa University graduate student who seems to be helplessly bound for self-destruction.
Irving's easily daunted hero is Fred ("Bogus") Trumper, a monumental procrastinator with a talent for bungling. Bogus' hardscrabble effort to support his wife "Biggie" and infant son Colm by selling football pins and pennants is thwarted...