Picks and Pans Review: Shelter

updated 06/09/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/09/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Marty Asher

This brief novel is a comic fantasy about a New Yorker named Billy who has a wife named Sara and two sons. Billy is obsessed with Beatles music and a belief that the world's major powers are about to blow up the universe. He makes a living thinking up bumper sticker slogans. (Example: "HONK FOR HONK'S SAKE.") The story is told in clusters of paragraphs that hover, in a strange design touch, at the top of each page. The following letter, which Billy writes from California to his teenage son, is a sample: "Dear Wyatt, I know responsibility isn't cool, but try not to be too weird while I take care of business out here. If I get good reports, I'll consider letting you wear an earring when I return. Dad." A vision of John Lennon appears to the stoned hero, and between Billy and John the problems of the world are solved happily. The author is director of the Quality Paperback Book Club. His first novel is 1960s nostalgia run rampant, but it is deftly presented, original and fun to read. (Arbor House, $12.95)

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