A novel in the form of a memoir,"" but really the reverse of the statement is truer. The accent of remembered speech, incidents, feelings hangs too closely in this fictionalized scrapbook, belying the author's heady attempt ""to make a particular bridge between history and the shaping imagination."" The tale Gold tells is the simple, unspectacular one of a son of immigrant parents growing up in Cleveland and New York during the Depression and the war years as the claims of conflicting generations, the joys and jolts of experience, catapult him to baffled, but largely affirmative, manhood. Gold's father, actually, is the key figure, and in his struggles with business, changing lower middle-class values, and shifting family alliances, we get a wry, fully-fleshed, appealing characterization of a sort of Jewish Everyman, occasionally transfigured with a Malamud-like glow. The writing, aside from some patches of Dore Schary sentimentality, has a manly, naturalistic lilt with a vivid sense of domestic documentation, the anger of adolescence, the ambivalence of blood relationships, and an unpressured, tangy humor. The various confrontations between son and father are often moving and undeniably authentic.