Books: Be Prepared



212 pages. Braziller. $5.95.

With nine novels to her credit, New Zealand's Janet Frame still offers something of a fielder's choice: whether to praise the strength of her poetic imagination or question the precarious structures of her novels, which are part prose, part poetry, part fiction and part personal reverie. Like dreams, her narratives advance and recede according to the most private tides of consciousness. Like dreams, they have a coherence that is easily bruised by interpretation.

Miss Frame's persistent themes are loneliness, madness and death. But again, as in dreams, distinctions dissolve and the themes can be interchangeable....

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