Books: Acres and Pains

GARDEN STATE by JULIAN MOYNAHAN 282 pages. Little, Brown. $6.95.

In his mid-40s, Howard Butler has acquired the anti-hero's stock repertory of problems: dissolving marriage, dead-end advertising job in New York, rebellious teen-age daughter, losing bouts with the bottle. So he deserts his wife and exurban New Jersey home to run a tree nursery on a nearby ten acres.

Enter Watchung Pharmaceutical, an expanding drug firm that lusts after Howard's turf as well as 250 acres of prime undeveloped land adjoining it. A tiny zoning change will make the property—a potential community park—eligible for commercial development, and Watchung has the town's most influential...

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