Books: A Summer of Discontent

FALLING IN PLACE by Ann Beattie; Random House; 342 pages; $10.95

Skylab is falling; Blondie's throbbing Heart of Glass dissipates in the air waves; the gas pumps are sucking dry. It is the summer of 1979, the twilight of an entropic decade and the desultory time frame of Ann Beattie's second novel. Her first, Chilly Scenes of Winter, was filmed last year as Head over Heels, and her short stories have been collected in two books, Distortions (1976) and Secrets and Surprises (1979). Beattie, 32, writes with quiet wit and subdued sympathy about the...

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