By EW Staff
Updated March 04, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US Valerie Sayers (Doubleday, $20) In the middle of Sayers’ leisurely novel, she unleashes a swift, sharp-toothed screenplay. Both novel and screenplay have the same characters, but the similarity stops there. In the novel, Franny grows up in atmospheric slow motion in the 1960s. She discovers drugs and sex, drifts from South Carolina to Washington, D.C., to New York City, marries, has a passel of babies, and keeps a hopeless romance going for years. But the screenplay about Franny’s honeymoon in Ireland, and the Belfast violence that seduces her husband, is chiseled and lean. The novel’s people grumble in their safe apartments, but the screenplay’s people make bombs out of condoms and howl in grief as their sons are taken away. Sayers’ sinewy screenplay makes the novel look baggy by contrast. B- -KW