Books: Family Disasters

O'NEILL: SON AND ARTIST

by LOUIS SHEAFFER 750 pages. Little, Brown. $15.

Eugene O'Neill seemed to write as if God (or the Devil) had given him life for just one reason: to shout with every breath that all was a ghastly mistake. "Froth! Rotten!" were his actor father's dying lines, and the playwright son with the eyes of a fallen angel carried on the refrain. "The Great Sickness" was among O'Neill's milder epithets for human existence.

What an extraordinary record O'Neill compiled for a life hater! The second and final volume of Louis Sheaffer's fair-minded...

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