These humorous nuggets are more likely to provoke nods of recognition than laughs. Though there are exceptions--the best pieces are those not bent into poesy--most are only quite clever, and insubstantial as parody. The bending of rhyme, meter, and reason often reads like the answers to a puzzle; indeed, the ""literary competitions"" of British magazines are the acknowleged inspiration, and some of the pieces are former contest winners. The more amusing pieces recast the books into unlikely formats: Waiting For Godot in biblical language; Jude the Obscure in a series of letters to an advice columnist; Joyce's Ulysses as a TV script for This Is Your Life; Lolita in scandal-sheet headlines; Kakfa's Metamorphosis in blues lyrics. Most of the pieces are poems. With few exceptions (a limerick of A Clockwork Orange, for one), these are less interesting. Some American books are included--Catch-22, Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby--but most of the books undertaken are by British writers, including some not so wellknown in America: Dean Farrar, L.P. Hartley, and Malcolm Bradbury. In the best-selling Shrinklits a few years back, Maurice Sagoff undertook the same task with more success. His pieces were much shorter and funnier, strong evidence that brevity is, indeed, the soul of wit. These 30- and 40-line poems here are mostly overwrought, with the humorous twists lost in the plot summaries.