Books: The Diary of a Mad Widow

LIVING IN THE MANIOTOTO by Janet Frame; Braziller; 240 pages; $8.95

One of the many strange and illuminating episodes in Janet Frame's tenth novel concerns an Englishman's experiment with truth-seeking in the desert. He chooses a simmering patch of wasteland east of Berkeley, Calif., and in a few hours discovers that his dry run is the real thing. As he waits under a road sign for his wife to return, a jackrabbit bounds into his shadow to cool off. This is followed by three rapid epiphanies. First, that his life was a gift...

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