New fiction and nonfiction briefly noted; The agony and ectasy of crewing; The Shell Game, by Stephen Kiesling. New York: William Morrow & Co. 200 pp. $ 10.50.

This is a book about crew, a sport that smacks of blue blazers and the Ivy League. It's also a story about the traditions and traumas of rowing at Yale, as seen by a young Californian-turned-oarsman.

Author Kiesling rowed on Yale's varsity heavyweight team before graduating in 1980. He was selected for the US National Rowing Team and the US Olympic Rowing Team. He knows the sport and also how to write about it in a lively, casual way. He gives a vivid example of the heated competition for seats in the boat representing the United States at the 1979 World Championships in Yugoslavia. Competition is a theme throughout the book, whether the opponents are Harvard's crew or the East German national team.

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