DIMINISHED CAPACITY by Sherwood Kiraly. (Berkley: $10; 256 pp.) Rollie Zerbs is 80 years old and has no real way of supporting himself. Fortunately, he owns an extremely rare baseball card worth thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, his nephew Cooper has agreed to accompany Rollie to Chicago where he can sell the card at an auction. Unfortunately, due to a head injury, Cooper is a bit forgetful himself, only, unlike Rollie, he's also a bitter, beaten man. Will Rollie sell his card before it falls into the hands of one of the myriad lowlifes who keep trying to steal it? Can Cooper regain enough of his old confidence to pursue the things he wants, including a recently rekindled old flame? To find out you'll have to read Sherwood Kiraly's funny, utterly guileless and friendly novel, "Diminished Capacity."

This is a fast, light book meant to be simply enjoyed. But unlike so many novels of a similar type, "Diminished Capacity" is extremely well written and has a real message about faith and courage. In addition, Cooper and Rollie are unself-consciously original characters. "I was glad she didn't disparage my judgment when we got behind a slow car on the two-lane section between Quincy and Havana. You hate to have somebody saying, 'Why don't you pass him?' and then when you move out, screaming, 'NOTNOWNOTNOWNOTNOW' and throwing themselves around the passenger seat."

This is a truly good-hearted novel.

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