Books: Obscurity Now

WINTER KILLS by RICHARD CONDON 304 pages. Dial. $7.95.

If high accomplishment were, like child molesting, a forgivable crime—if Nobel-prizewinning scientists, wives of former Presidents, old poets and athletes and desiccated jazz musicians were allowed to sink into honorable obscurity five years or so after their last attestable attack of greatness—there would be no Richard Condon problem.

A humane society would let Condon off the hook. His early books, The Oldest Confession, The Manchurian Candidate and A Talent for Loving, are among the maddest funny novels of the last couple of decades. They seemed to have been written by Mephistopheles, raucous...

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