Books: Rerun for Gulley

A FINE MADNESS by Elliott Baker. 319 pages. Putnam. $4.95.

A comic novel succeeds if it is funnier than its own dust jacket, and Elliott Baker's A Fine Madness meets this difficult test nicely. It is not likely that the publishers will be sent into receivership by losses suffered making good the guarantee. Yet, for the worst of reasons, it is impossible to praise this likable first novel without hedging.

The book is intended to make the rebellious heart leap up. A poet is betrayed into the hands of poetry's blood enemies, the psychiatrists. The...

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