Picks and Pans Review: Only
by Winston Groom
Squeak (Viking, $12.95) is a pigeon. Her mother was an elegant specially bred show bird, and her father a common city hang-about. When her stepfather disappears and her mother goes to search for him, Squeak is left to the humans who own her loft. They feed her, and she becomes a special pet. The loft has a whole community of fascinating birds, including a bosomy Barbara Cartland-like pigeon. There is drama—for instance, a mysterious, deadly epidemic breaks out—and there are imaginative twists on a pigeon's view of the world. Bowen, a British playwright and novelist, explains that most of this entertaining book is based on ornithological truths. They're used not as a parable of human behavior but as an exercise in pure fantasy. Only (Putnam, $12.95) is a shaggy sheepdog puppy found by a young married couple when they run out of gas near a farm. He almost dies but pulls through to become utterly adored by his owners and their two daughters. He falls in love, runs away, returns and grows old. This book is curiously old-fashioned—overly sentimental in the way of 1930s fiction intended for women or sensitive children. It also has a stale familiarity. It is odd that Groom, author of the ambitious Vietnam novel Better Times Than These, would want, to write such mawkish stuff.
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