CUTTER AND BONE
by NEWTON THORNBURG
313 pages. Little, Brown. $8.95.
Keep an eye on Newton Thornburg. He has followed his first, rather clumsy effort, To Die in California (1972), with a fine second novel that is tense, funny and despairing. Its literary persuasiveness is generated by an extraordinary pair of characters who sound derivative and unprepossessing but run away with the book. Alex Cutter is a disfigured cripple; in Viet Nam he lost an arm, a leg and an eye. As if to make up for these missing parts, he is a full-time...