NONFICTION : LONELY GIRLS WITH BURNING EYES by Marian Faye Novak (Little Brown: $18.95; 224 pp.) .

Marian and David Novak were married for three days before they left Washington for Quantico, Va.; when David left there for Vietnam, his wife was pregnant and alone, waiting for a husband who would return a different man. She has written a heartfelt if difficult book about her experience, and her husband's--a story steeped in patriotic lyricism, and resentment of the war protesters whom she blames, in part, for her husband's troubled re-entry. Novak has painfully clear recall of those times, of nuance and detail, but is not equally perceptive about the world outside her door. She and her husband visit the Vietnam memorial--the Wall--and he speaks of the waste and tragedy. "But there are many worse ways to die, Dave," she replies, "a lot worse reasons to die." That she can say that to a man who endured battle, whom she has heard recount unspeakable acts, is a measure of her limitation.

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