A light-winged fantasy and a tender and delicate discovery in the relationship between father and son by the author of and Man and boy, in this case, are set off against the unholy transcendence of Mother-not Wylie's Mom -- but a hard-grained bluestocking. Mr. Ormsby, long since hewn to a rigid line in this wife's (Mother's) manufactured universe, is resuscitated only through a brief companionship with a small bird-like Private, the spiritual successor to the Ormsbys' son, killed in the war, in whose honor a ship is to be dedicated. But on the way to the ceremonies Mother adds to the defunct sides of the female tryptic -- a gloriously addlepated slum matron, and a jocosely pregnant Navy wife -- and it is obvious, as Mother barges triumphantly into the masculine legions of the Navy, that the ship, the birds of the sky, and the male universe belong to Mother. However, also for Mother is a faint raspberry. Delicious humor and sly comment.