Books: Irving's World

UNCLE

by Julia Markus

Houghton Mifflin; 170 pages; $7.95

Philip Roth proved that New Jersey, summer camp and a claustrophobic family life could inspire brilliant satire. Whether they could inspire tragedy remained in doubt until Julia Markus addressed herself to the theme of growing up Jewish in Jersey City. Tragedy requires the decline of a hero, and Markus has invented one—however low key—in this somber, eloquent novel: Irving Bender, the son of East European Jews for whom the immigrant dream of success had come to nothing. "Irv's father drank and gambled and died," she...

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