Books: Sight, Sound, Mood

ASSEMBLY (429 pp.)—John O'Hara—Random House ($5.95).

On the title page of his first collection of short stories in twelve years, John O'Hara has set a remark of Joseph Conrad's that is far more apt than most epigraphs: "My task ... is, by the power of the written word, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see. That—and no more. And it is everything." At least it is everything that O'Hara does well (if, for this master of the ear, it is understood that feeling includes hearing). The peculiar limitation of the author's great skill is that, while no one...

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