Books: An Eyewitness to Paradox QUINN'S BOOK

by William Kennedy; Viking; 289 pages; $18.95

Wherever they gather to raise their spirits, would-be writers and involuntary collectors of rejection slips invariably get around to the legend of William Kennedy. How his fourth novel came bouncing back from publishing houses 13 times, and how two of his earlier books, Legs and Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, seemed doomed to remain a dyad rather than parts of the trilogy their author had planned. Enter a deus ex machina in the person of Saul Bellow, a Nobel laureate, no less, who administered a scolding to those who had rebuffed Kennedy's manuscript and thereby inaugurated a streak of magic. When Ironweed...

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