Books: Ringmaster


by Mordecai Richler

Knopf; 413 pages; $19.95

"How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" inquires the psalmist. With reverence, replies Mordecai Richler. Plus a few gags ("What's black and white and brown and looks good on a lawyer?" "A Doberman"); a couple of philosophical digressions ("Liquor, once you're hooked on it, is a hard habit to break. Like God, Henry thought . . ."); some manic riffs on fame ("That dumbbell the Duke of Windsor he threw in the sponge for a tart. You want the Duke and Duchess for a charity ball,...

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