cover image All We Need of Hell

All We Need of Hell

Harry Crews. HarperCollins Publishers, $14.95 (161pp) ISBN 978-0-06-015680-0

Crews's 10th novel (after Gospel Singer describes the frustrated rage that possesses inept lawyer Duffy Deeter, who seeks heart's ease through a bizarre physical fitness regimen. His life is further complicated by a gum-chewing mistress, once a Woodrow Wilson Fellow; a wife with naturally silver hair who is as glacial as the North Pole; an overweight adolescent son; a law partner who has been making time with Mrs. Deeter; a mother whose belfry doesn't have 12 chimes for midnight; and a black professional athlete. What binds these aberrant types together in a compelling narrative is a remarkable gift for incisive language: Duffy's father, a World War II fighter pilot, ""bit the big bagel''; ``gold was good, a commodity that always gave the same answer''; and, ``In the nation of the heart, there's war enough for everybody.'' That Duffy finds salvation is the most surprising twist of all. (January 28)