Books: Notable

A FAIRY TALE OF NEW YORK

by J.P. DONLEAVY

341 pages. Delacorte. $7.95.

From The Ginger Man on, J.P. Donleavy's novels have been simultaneously cruel, sentimental, repetitive and sporadically funny. Donleavy heroes are ridiculous figures who wallow in self-pity behind their mannered fronts and anesthetize deep personal hurts with sex and alcohol. Like Cornelius Treacle Christian, the errant knight in tweed armor of A Fairy Tale of New York, Donleavy's people move around a lot—"Moving all the time," says Christian, "hoping for a master stroke of solace somewhere."

Treacle Christian (the name alone too obviously signals Donleavy's intent) is a penniless, Bronx-born expatriate...

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