Books: Two Tales & Ah Sin

BRET HARTE by Richard O'Connor. 331 pages. Little, Brown. $6.95.

Bret Harte had many admirers and almost no friends. Mark Twain, who respected Harte's work, called the author a coward, a liar, a swindler, a thief, a snob, a sot, a born loafer and a son of a bitch. When autograph hounds enclosed return postage in their letters, it is said that Harte used the stamps to pay his overdue butcher's bill. He was an instant success at 32, and at his prime was the most popular author the U.S. had ever known. Yet, though he sold everything he wrote and...

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