February 13, 1978 12:00 PM

by Wilfrid Sheed

Novelists who have experienced Catholicism seem drawn to the device of the confession. Walker Percy used it last year in Lancelot, for instance, and John Gregory Dunne played with the theme in True Confessions. In this new novel, Sheed’s priest is Father Sony, a tape recorder. Monty Chat-worth, a celebrated TV talk-show host in his “farcical 40s” who is drunk on a 747 above the Atlantic, confesses at length into Father Sony that he is a worthless, empty human being. The book clips along with leering, America-style dirty jokes and a jolly-good wit reminiscent of the late P.G. Wodehouse (“Both parents seem to have spent their lives changing from tweeds to evening clothes and swapping light banter with Lord and Lady Fang of Houndsditch”). The novel is, as its hero says of himself, “vibrantly superficial” and totally entertaining. (Dutton, $9.95)

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