THE EVENING WOLVES by Joan Chase
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
295 pages; $18.95
In his introduction to a 1965 reissue of Christina Stead's The Man Who Loved Children, the poet and critic Randall Jarrell defined a novel as "a prose narrative of some length that has something wrong with it." Stead's celebrated book was indeed lengthy and imperfect. But it had at its center an unforgettable father figure whose weakness and tyrannical urges were disguised by forced jollity. Francis Clemmons, the dear old dad of Joan Chase's lyric second novel (her first, During the Reign of the Queen of Persia, won...