Thomas Savage has a pitch-perfect ear and writes better and stronger books each time about the losers of the world--this one connects on all frequencies, not only radio where Tom Westbrook, 55, heard in 38 states, ministers on the Midnight Line to some ten million insomniacs calling in from unshared beds or pay phones about their meat loaf or a sick pet or their day-today wretchedness. Sometimes he delivers his own views, say on abortion or homosexuality, prompted subconsciously by his own unfulfilled life and particularly a girl, Maxine, back home in Montana, dead of the abortion he secured for her. Only much later, after a brief, disorderly marriage, does he learn that the baby couldn't have been his. But as past and present converge, Westbrook disintegrates on a phantom air wave keeping a vigil with a Voice which delusively directs him toward the child that lived when Maxine died, a boy that he now considers his, a young man in trouble whom he hopes to find. After all, there would be nothing better than a son to give some meaning to a life which has nothing to show for it except a stamp collection in two Scott albums. For a time of course, one can't evade the comparison this deliberately invites with Nathanael West's ""faithless Pilgrim's Progress""; although Tom Westbrook, just as ""heavy with shadow"" as Miss Lonely-hearts, at first doesn't rely on a Higher Belief. In fact this nobody/celebrity only justifies himself through his ""priesthood"" to others with equally unappeased hopes and unshriven humiliations. Listen in on the Midnight Line--it speaks with a great deal of feeling and unassailable conviction for a great many people who only surface in Mr. Goodbars after dark.