BOOKS: JUST CONNECT

A FUNNY, FLUENT NOVEL ABOUT A MAN WHOSE LIFE IS ON HOLD

IN THE MAN OF THE HOUSE (SIMON & Schuster; 287 pages; $22), Stephen McCauley's third novel, a friend tells Clyde, the narrator, "No one cares about novels anymore. No one wants to wade through the obfuscations of fiction. Just pump out all the filthy facts, toss in a chapter on rehab and wrap it up."

Thank heaven no one has let McCauley's publisher in on this nearly accurate bit of cynicism. There aren't any filthy facts here, no trite wrap-ups--just funny, sustaining fiction. The only resemblance between McCauley's writing and rehab is that you can just check in. Such are the...

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