Books: Parables of Punsmoke

REUBEN, REUBEN by Peter De Vries. 435 pages. Little, Brown. $5.95.

Commuters will instantly recognize Woodsmoke, Conn., as the place where the 6:02 stops, late as usual, to let them off. The churches are so up to date that they are thinking of making divorce a sacrament. Car licenses sport family initials, creating a special problem: After the breakup who gets custody of the plates? The split-levels teem with "potential ex-alcoholics," noncommunicating communications experts, novelists churning out books that start: "Part of him wanted to die. Part of him wanted to live¬ódesperately." In Woodsmoke, says Novelist Peter De Vries, if Hester Prynne...

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