A BISHOP'S CONFESSION
by Jim Bishop
Little, Brown; 462 pages; $15.95
Jim Bishop's father liked to lecture his son about how, in his own days as an altar boy in Jersey City, he had been upbraided by the parish priest for yawning at a funeral. So when his father died, Bishop spent the requiem Mass watching an altar boy. "He almost made it to the end. Then the palm of his hand came up to his mouth. He yawned." Just one of death's little ironies, the kind that Bishop ran through his Smith-Corona portable for such bestsellers as The Day Lincoln...