TITLE: SHADOW PLAY
AUTHOR: CHARLES BAXTER
PUBLISHER: NORTON; 399 PAGES; $21.95
THE BOTTOM LINE: A novel of the Midwest that probes privates lives, public morality and the question, Does God care or is he merely curious?
WYATT PALMER IS THE ASSIStant city manager of Five Oaks, Michigan. His wife Susan likes to walk on her hands, pull her pet rabbit out of a hat and construct miniature stage sets. Aunt Ellen is writing the Bible, and Wyatt's sweetly psychotic mother Jeanne makes up 50 cents words like nutomberized, descorbitant and corilineal, which she defines as "so normal, it's strange."