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Avery Corman. Simon & Schuster, $17.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-60249-9

Deft, witty and profoundly serious, this new novel by the author of Kramer Vs. Kramer is a confrontation by an ordinary man, Doug Gardner, a sportswriter, of his own principles and the demands of the marketplace. His problem is the common one of divorce, shared custody of two children and a mountain of bills, exacerbated by his fear that neither the love he gives his children nor the money he provides can compensate for the half-life of a divided household. Yet when the owner of his magazine tries to bribe him with a raise if he'll write articles he doesn't believe in, he quits; when he finds another job and comes enticingly close to big bucks, he takes a long look at the compromise involved and opts out. This in spite of the fact that his former wife has married a fabrics millionaire who, as Doug writhes in jealousy, houses the kids in castles and flies them to Europe for the weekend. Sometimes Doug Gardner is a bit too good to be true, but he's a pleasure to have around, and it's a jaded reader indeed who won't be rooting for him all the way. Literary Guild alternate. (August 14)