50 by Avery Corman (Simon & Schuster: $17.95; 254 pp.). In this latest novel from the author of the bittersweet sagas of "Oh God!" "Kramer vs. Kramer" and "The Old Neighborhood," protagonist Doug Gardner is stumbling toward his 50th birthday, draped in the robes of a contemporary Job.

Divorced and depressed, sports writer Gardner is trying to cope with the success and remarriage of his ex; the wooing away of his children, and dog, by her new megabucks mate; low scores in the fickle dating game; the inability to seize opportunity, and love; an ailing father; producing three columns a week; and the takeover of the publication he works for by a heavy-handed Texan.

But fear not, Gardner does have his health and intelligence. And those familiar with Corman's writings know that he is a sentimentalist of the first rank, and that somehow honesty, virtue and love will triumph and be rewarded. Once again Corman has served up a bowl of fiction that while not particularly filling or zesty, nonetheless is sweet and soothing, and welcome.

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