Perhaps one of the most consistently innovative popular liberal Catholic writers, Novak collaborated with his wife, artist-sculptor Karen Laub-Novak, in this series of explosive pensees concerning ""the reliable elements of life."" Both Ms. Laub-Novak's illustrations (which we have not seen) and Novak's reflections deal with the ""thick irrationality which presses outward from the center of life."" In impulsive prose which ranges from the quick insight to the self-indulgent sprawl, Novak explores, as a middle-class paterfamilias-suburbanite, concepts of being and self; political and social ethic; domestic living; and the awareness of God above and through humanity. He comments on the American way of life which he sees as mechanistic-bound, ""not at all on the human scale."" Perhaps we might feel more, do more and be more with a realization of the ""tragic sense of life."" Novak also deplores the insistence on the ""normal"" and delights in a zany society in which ""Each day members smash a jar of catsup, peanut butter or anything homogenized."" Unfortunately Novak's prose occasionally comes perilously close to peanut butter when he contemplates the unity of a life force: ""Honesty, humility, oceanic stirrings of festering primeval, multiplying life/ Dripping from loins. . . ."" But Novak's perceptions of spiritual awareness, particularly the ""translucent"" knowledge of God as related to action and thought, will appeal to many of those drawn to the storm centers within a changing church.