Growing up between the wars

Sorry, Dad, by Edward Blishen. London: Allison & Busby (distributed in the US by Schocken Books Inc.). 217 pp. $5.95. (paper). American Russell Baker wrote a beautiful story about growing up with his book ``Growing Up.'' Englishman Edward Blishen gives us an equally compelling book with ``Sorry, Dad.''

This is a father-son relationship remembered and told with kindness, much insight, and emotional truth. Dad is a roaring tyrant, macho head of the suburban manor. The son grows through discovering music, literature, and the sometimes too sensitive relationships of adolescence.

Peacemaker mother flutters between the two fires; Edward is sorry, Dad, he must become his own man.

The streets and hedgerows of his childhood, first friends, and struggles with Latin and bullies are all brilliantly realized.

Maturing through the quirky family relations, the awful rows, and the hotheaded uncles is funny, sad, and a marvelous picture of the ordinary world of England between the wars.

Much as a Sir Lawrence Olivier might read aloud from a phone book and make it sound great, Edward Blishen makes his ordinary sixpence-starved world memorable.

Gene Langley, for years a Monitor staff artist, is now a free-lance artist and writer.

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