Books: Dear Liar



374 pages. Harper & Row. $7.95.

Playwright Thornton Wilder is the good old white magician who once had us all handing chairs down theater aisles to feed a stage fire and save the suburb of Excelsior, N.J., from the ice age. He successfully launched Noah's ark from the Million Dollar Pier in Atlantic City—despite the fact that Mrs. Noah wouldn't let it shove off without Cain as well as Abel. Novelist Thornton Wilder has re-created 18th century Peru (The Bridge of San Luis Rey), and ancient Rome (The Cabala). In...

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