Books: A Time to Live and to Die

DAD by William Wharton; Knopf; 449 pages; $12.95

The drama of parents and children begins as a love story, perhaps the most engrossing one that life ever offers. The plot then thickens considerably, and happy resolutions of all the ensuing difficulties are rare. Ordinarily, death rings down the curtain in midscene, leaving the younger actors with lines unspoken and an abrupt change in casting; whatever else they may play, they can be sons and daughters no longer.

Dad portrays both the loss and the continuity in this irrevocable process of change. Author William...

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