Books: Uncle Gatsby in Connecticut the Prick of Noon

by Peter De Vries; Little, Brown; 233 pages; $14.95

Crack a Peter De Vries novel at random and you are likely to find a Midwesterner trying just a little too hard to keep from making a fool of himself among the sophisticates of the Northeast. The journey from Pocock, Ill., to Decency, Conn., has been played forward, backward and sideways, sometimes strictly for laughs and often, as in The Blood of the Lamb, to illustrate that comedy is not the opposite of tragedy but its Siamese twin.

The serious side of De Vries has been subject to considerable analysis, most of it attempts to align the author's dour Dutch Calvinist...

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