BOOKS: THE BEST BOOKS OF 1997

FICTION

1 MASON & DIXON (Henry Holt) Thomas Pynchon's vast novel retraces the progress of the men who drew the line between the colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland. For all its Pynchonesque tomfooleries--a talking dog, a four-ton cheese--the tale is somber, elegiac. Mason and Dixon come to realize that their triumph means an end to the wilderness, the imposition of order on "the realm of the Sacred."

2 Underworld (Scribner) Despite its title, Don DeLillo's 11th and most ambitious novel is not about organized crime. DeLillo takes on nothing less ambitious than the buried life of the cold war, the specter...

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