Books: Revelations the Snow Ball

by A.R. Gurney Jr. Arbor House; 240 pages; $15.95

When PBS adapted three John Cheever stories for TV in 1979, Playwright A.R. Gurney Jr. (The Dining Room, Scenes from American Life) seemed ideally suited to write one of the scripts. Gurney has been for the stage what Cheever was for fiction: the foremost chronicler of the foibles and angst of the Wasp upper middle class. The adaptation succeeded. But it also pointed up a significant difference between Cheever's striving suburbia and Gurney's blue- blood Buffa- lo: while many of Cheever's bedeviled characters are avidly accumulating, almost all of Gurney's etiolated aristocrats are watching the family fortune fade away.

In his...

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