The Comedy Man, this author's first novel, showed an antic sense of narrative and character; this, on a smaller, tighter scale, reviews the desperations, defeats and final affirmation of one Chris Grubb, a writer of action strips for boys. With his smug band of bachelor friends and their routines, his life is without complaint; sex, with Clara, adequate; and imagination can gloss over the dreariness. Mabel Boot, a florist, changes everything with her physical demands and her effect on his coterie and, smarting from derision, he makes good his threat to leave London for Australia. Loss of his writing contracts, a job as a professional cleaner, and, although homesick, he proves he can survive in the very strange world of Sydney, and its stranger behavior at the Test (cricket) series. His return to London --with friends married and looking far less desirable after his exposure to Australian vitality is a turnabout when he heads back for down under's fresh air -- and a fresh heir. The barrier reef of Australian -- as well as London --vernacular, together with some lack of inhibitions may leave American minds unopened.