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IN BRIEF

Fiction

May 26, 1996|MICHAEL HARRIS

MISSING LINKS by Rick Reilly (Doubleday: $21.95; 278 pp.). This golf novel, due out in June, is better than "Fast Greens." Sports Illustrated writer Rick Reilly gives us snappier prose, more believable characters and the funniest take on blue-collar hacking and gambling ("at Ponkaquogue, a Boston muni that is unquestionably the worst golf course in America . . . Astroturf tees and tractor-pull fairways and greens about as soft and puttable as Boylston Street") since Dan Jenkins' "The Glory Game at Goat Hills."

Raymond Lee Hart, on the run from his brother's death, his failed pro career and his bullying bank-CEO father, hides out in a dead-end job and endless money games at "Ponky" with such cronies as Two Down, Chunkin' Charlie and Thud (the Barely Human). Everything's cool until Two Down accidentally chops a hole in the hedge that separates Ponky from the snooty Mayflower Club, where Hart's dad is a member. The sudden vision of privilege triggers raging envy among the public-course players, who come to disdain Ponky and scheme to be the first to play the country club. The resulting humongous bet threatens to sink Hart's bank account, his friendships and his two best chances at love--though it may also force him to confront his father and his own responsibility for his life. Reilly knows enough not to belabor the moralizing; it's the social satire and pure irreverence that keep this story in the groove.

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