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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

June 20, 1993|CHRIS GOODRICH

ABOVE THE CLOUDS by Jonathan Bach (William Morrow: $20; 288 pp.). Imagine yourself a teen-ager in a hospital bed, arm broken and eyes blackened, trying to absorb the fact that you, the driver, have survived a car accident five hours earlier--but your little sister did not. Then imagine your father calling, someone you hardly know because he left your mother and five siblings 15 years earlier. What does he say? That his daughter, your sister, has "chosen a different form of consciousness for her own very good reasons, but we'll miss her." Enough imagining: This scene really did happen, according to Jonathan Bach, who has written "Above the Clouds" in order to free himself from a spiritual demon--his father Richard Bach, who named his youngest son after his fictional creation, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. There's only one hitch: Instead of writing the "hate book" he initially intended, Jonathan Bach is co-opted by his father's charm and annoyingly simplistic, self-centered "philosophy" of life . . . and has ended up producing an apologia for his father's serious paternal failings. Although its subject matter is serious, "Above the Clouds" is at bottom a mindless romance, one in which father and son together profess mystification as to why Mrs. Bach could still be angry, decades latter, at having been left alone with six mouths to feed.

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