Books: Pilgrim's Regress



335 pages. Lippincott. $8.95.

Perhaps every good young writer should be allowed a book like this one. Still it is a notable disappointment. Three years ago, McHale published two exhilarating novels in quick succession: Principato and Farragan's Retreat. In both he revealed wild comic gusto, a youthful, vengeful rage at certain vagaries of the Roman Catholic Church, and a visceral knowledge of middle-class Irish and Italians around Philadelphia and the Jersey shore. McHale was never a stylist; he made up in energy what he lacked in elegance.

In Alinsky's Diamond...

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