"Probabilities," by Michael Stein. Permanent Press. 175 pages. $22.
Michael Stein's first novel gives us a hero in the Holden Caulfield tradition - cynical on the outside, tender on the inside, too smart for his own good. He clings to the gestures but not the spirit of rebellion in an age of faded causes and sagging institutions when rebellion seems not only futile but silly. This book won't change lives as "Catcher in the Rye" did, but it's a witty and affecting debut.