A Tiler's Afternoon

by Lars Gustafsson. New Directions, $8.95. Mr. Gustafsson’s novel describes a Sweden seldom mentioned in either news or travel reports. His tiler is elderly, bored, discontented, and engaged on a job outside the tax collector’s vision. He is part of a class of black-market workers, and the old pal who turns up to help him is another of the same evasive ilk. The job is strange from the start and grows steadily more peculiar under the influence of nostalgia and schnapps. As a study of the tattered fringes of socialist society, the book is gloomily adroit.