FOUND.Jim Lehrer.Putnam.222 pages. $19.95.On the...


May 05, 1991|By J. WYNN ROUSUCK I'M TOO YOUNG TO HAVE A HEART ATTACK. Jim Castelli. Prima. 184 pages. $18.95.


Jim Lehrer.


222 pages. $19.95.

On the way to work, if you've ever had a desire (and whhasn't?) to drive right by the office and keep on going -- in other words, to escape -- then you'll get a vicarious kick out of Jim Lehrer's "Lost and Found."

The fourth in his series of novels about the adventures of the One-Eyed Mack, lieutenant governor of Oklahoma, "Lost and Found" follows Mack's efforts to track down five ex-Marines who have run away to France to relive their youth.

There's also a subplot about a fatal bus disaster and plenty of bus lore -- at this point a recurring theme in the work of Mr. #F Lehrer, co-anchor of PBS' "MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour," ex-Marine and bus enthusiast.

One of the most delightful and breeziest of the One-Eyed Mack novels thus far, "Lost and Found" will tickle your wanderlust. And, in lieu of a bona fide physical escape from reality, it will at least serve as a literary substitute.

@ Jim Castelli was 38 when he had his heart attack. He was aunusually young man for such an occurrence, but not, it turns out, an unusual man in any other way. The book, which is supposed to fill the gap left by recovery books aimed at older people, is different only in that it lacks the perspective that years might have brought.

The author is, purely and simply, obsessed with himself, with his pulse, his flat feet, his abhorrence of skim milk. At the same time, his book is oddly impersonal; the only feelings in it are about his heart. His wife's role is to take care of him; her 14-month menstrual bleed, ending in hysterectomy, rates a few scattered paragraphs. His sons are peripheral: He's proud that his heart held up when the dog bit the younger one, and he doesn't even tell us when, in the course of his recovery, the older boy joined the Navy.

There are, however, some redeeming features: In the early pages, Mr. Castelli describes in light and fast-paced prose the events leading to the attack, and the end, in which he lists helpful hints for heart attack prevention and recovery. What's in between, however, is very dull stuff.



Clyde Edgerton.

Algonquin Books.

347 Pages. $17.95.

As an orphaned teen-ager, Wesley Benfield got into trouble borrowing cars. Clyde Edgerton's "Walking Across Egypt" chronicled Wesley's misadventures. Keeping his North Carolina locale, Mr. Edgerton has brought back Wesley in "Killer Diller." Wesley is now 24 and trying to become a good Christian while forming his own blues group to spread the Word. He is currently housed at the BOTA -- Back On Track Again -- Halfway House on the Ballard University campus, run by the Sears twins, Ned and Ted. Things are booming at Ballard. There is the Nutrition House where Christians can learn to lose weight and gain God's wisdom and a Project Promise for disadvantaged youths. All this with a state-of-the-art communications center gives the goodhearted but unlucky Wesley more than enough opportunity to get into trouble.

"Killer Diller" is sweet and good-natured. If there is a problem with the book, it is that it has few hard edges, except for several barbs aimed at the Sears. But Mr. Edgerton does such a fine job in developing appealing characters that it seems quibbling to find fault. While they may do the Lord's work in mysterious way's, Wesley and his friends are an affable lot.


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