Neil Horner, age 85, has been living in a California boarding house for years until his grandson Frank, a large, silent, physical bachelor in his thirties, comes out from Minnesota and makes a home for them both together. Frank's an excellent cook, starts a record collection, furnishes the small house -- and Strick's best touch in this odd little novel is that she invests Frank's (apparently) sexually innocent domestic skill and his appreciation of that of others with such dignity. The only catch is that this dignity translates into a syruppy pace for the novel; and when Neil dies of pneumonia at the end and Frank breaks up, you sense a finale that was more handy than fated. Also a problem: the book's long, confusing opening section, which will keep many readers from finding their bearings. Still, Strick (Scot Free) puts so much loving concentration on the small unspectacular things of life, especially those things that some people do well, that she offsets the novel's limpness in a mostly engaging way. Quiet, shapeless work, then, yet full of satisfactions.