Books: Harpoons & Screech Owls

ARTURO'S ISLAND (372 pp.) — Elsa Morante—Knopf ($4.50).

Arturo Gerace. the novel's young hero, is far too introspective, and too giddy, to resemble Huck Finn in any other way, but like the Hannibal rapscallion, he has all the right disadvantages. Arturo lives on the Mediterranean island of Procida, never goes to school or does chores, hardly ever wears underwear or shoes, and has no one to tell him what to do. His mother died in childbirth, and his father, who is independently poor, knocks about most of the time on miscellaneous travels. When the father comes home, the two of them swim...

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