Books: Chinks in the Armor

QUIN'S SHANGHAI CIRCUS by EDWARD WHITTEMORE 291 pages. Holt, Rinehart& Winston. $7.95.

"What's yellow and smooth and dangerous?" yips the clever infant, zapping his father with another riddle. "Quin's Shanghai Circus," answers the weary book reviewer. "Stop being silly," the child admonishes. "What's yellow and smooth and dangerous?" "Ah, dangerous," says his distracted parent, "I thought you said meaningless."

Yes, indeed. But if the reader resigns himself to the remarkable fact that this elephantine farce will move through five decades of Asian para-history without at any point touching ground or making the slightest sense, there is a lot of dizzy fun in...

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