After all the American Litrichoor courses have been tucked away, their perfect digestion is assured if Armour's latest is nibbled at--just as all the best dinners are followed by nuts. He provides the formula for keeping the Mathers straight: Increase and Cotton must never be confused with Decrease and Dacron. The message of The Scarlet Letter has never been more succinctly put: ""Young women: keep away from hurch."" Emily Dickinson is at last revealed (again) and Melville exposed (more decently than usual). The whole body of Am. Lit. is put to the torch and when Armour fances around the pyre to the more recent native scribblers, some of his gibes are too true to be funny. However, by that point the reader is conditioned to a chortle reflex that has been building since...well, It All Started with Columbus.