Here is a book that demonstrates the fact that occasionally character is plot. Taken from the conventional angle of a story, this is thin. But no one who is interested in the gradual unfolding of a personality, can fail to find it absorbingly compelling, entertaining, tragic, challenging, wholly original in manner and matter. ""Young Robert"" is seen obliquely, through a friend, born to a different social level, a different social viewpoint, who yet finds in Robert, unstable, brilliant, lovable, dynamic, a force that controls his life. The story starts shortly before the San Francisco earthquake and fire -- the whole setting is California -- and one follows Robert's trial and error method of seeking an unknown goal, fascinated. -- A book to watch.