What does a nice Yank lad from the Bronx find in his heart to write about, long years after he's hightailed it to Dublin and set himself up as a full-time Paddy? Why, to be sure, the States themselves, which is where the second chronicle of ""the strangest stories ever to be rumoured around New York"" by Donleavy (The Woman Who Liked Clean Restrooms, 1997, etc.) takes place, across the waves of five decades and the Atlantic both. In the late '40s, when ""people were already beginning to forget that we were veterans. . . and that the government owed us a living,"" young Stephen O'Kelly'O [sic] is beginning to fear that the jig may well be up. After several years in the Navy, Stephen had settled down to academic life under the G.I. Bill, first in the Midwest and later in Italy. Now he's back in New York, trying without much success to make his name as a composer. His first bit of luck is Sylvia. Rich, gorgeous, and oversexed, Sylvia falls for Stephen hard and the two get married. But that's where their troubles begin: Incensed at the marriage, Sylvia's father cuts off her allowance and disinherits them both. Stephen appeals to her mother, who opens her heart (after a fashion) by seducing Stephen and offering to become his patroness--for a price. When did any of Donleavy's rogues ever object to payment in kind? But Stephen recoils at the idea of servicing a rich woman for money, and turns her down flat. What will become of our hero? With Donleavy, of course, the usual expectations of happy or sad endings don't make much sense, so it's really beyond the point to wonder. Just hang on and enjoy the ride. The old dog is showing signs of age, but his friends will always be glad he's dropped in to say hello--even if their children find him a trifle unkempt and creepy.