Books: Shadow Play

SACRED FAMILIES by JOSÉ DONOSO 206 pages. Knopf. $7.95.

CHARLESTON AND OTHER STORIES

by JOSÉ DONOSO 192 pages. Godine. $8.95.

Both translated by ANDRÉE CONRAD

In the 56 years since Yeats announced that "the center cannot hold," the literature of disintegration has hardened like concrete. Hemingway's nada and Fitzgerald's crackup are now preserved in cliché. It takes talent and ingenuity to put a new face on collapse. A touch of satire and the surreal have become requisites.

José Donoso, 53, demonstrated these qualities in such novels as This Sunday and The Obscene Bird of Night (1973)....

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