BOOKS: BOOK OF VIRTUE

OSCAR HIJUELOS CREATES THAT LITERARY RARITY, A GOOD MAN

IN HIS FOURTH NOVEL Oscar Hijuelos, author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, has produced the sort of book that might offer William Bennett hope for America's cultural future. Mr. Ives' Christmas (HarperCollins; 248 pages; $23) is an homage to religious piety, unfailing modesty and moral rectitude. At the novel's center is Ives, a man who overcame his foundling-home beginnings to become a successful Manhattan illustrator and advertising executive. Despite his position, Ives lives a life devoid of bourgeois affectation. He gives to the poor, lusts for no one but his wife and refuses to judge those around him....

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