The Norman Rockwell of the written word returns with another wry collection of his syndicated columns. If he serves a little ham on the wry, at least it's tasty and all natural. Sometimes, Rooney adroitly skims along life's surfaces. ""Nothing succeeds like success,"" he says, ""unless it's having people afraid of you."" At other times he plunges beneath the surface--to discuss, for example, underwear. (""You have to look for good in people wherever you find it."") In well over a hundred essays Rooney talks about lots of the generally useful paraphernalia of everyday life, like Jeeps and wastebaskets, hot showers and money. ""I like to think of doctors as being above the idea of money,"" he muses. ""I'm crazy, of course."" No more crazy than the rest of us, he goes where we go, does what we do--he's grumpy. But, like the rest of us, he's also bright and amiable. Why is that? Sometimes he sounds less like H. L. Mencken than Ozzie Nelson or the guy who does the last page of Better Homes and Gardens. That's when he's coasting through domestic matters. Coasting, Andy Rooney is not bad at all; and in high gear he can turn a phrase that startles because it's so right. Home, he's discovered, is where ""you don't have to watch yourself."" The notions may not be novel, but they are universal. As Rooney instructs us, ""new ideas are one of the most overrated concepts of our time. . . . The shortage we face in this country is not new ideas, it's quality work."" Andy Rooney is an artisan who sets his words marching across the newspaper page on schedule three times a week. Quality work, that often surprises and delights.