LOOP'S PROGRESS by Chuck Rosenthal (Weidenfeld & Nicolson: $15.95; 233 pp.). Unloved, unloving, unaware, uneducated; shooting morphine, burglarizing regularly, Jarvis Loop, the narrator of this novel, is an uncomplaining resident among grotesque, smashingly over-blown eccentrics. Nightmare stuff. Yet, you're laughing.
Offering advice, Jarvis' fanatically religious mother asks, "Who ever won anything by being fair?" She worships a religious statuette, making it stand in a corner when her prayers go unanswered. His father constantly tosses a bowling ball as if it were helium-filled.