Leonard Cohen is a young Canadian poet and his first novel is about a young Canadian poet, Breavman, and his sensuously surcharged pursuit of experience. If a comparison with Updike is made, it is a work of infinite natural talent but the gift is greater than the accomplishment. Still it contacts life with maximal intensity and a dazzling lyricism. Breavman's story begins in his childhood in Westmount in a wealthy, Jewish environment he will escape. Focusing on his early sexual experimentation, at first prurient with Lisa, then on to Tamara and a casual camaraderie which lasts three years, Breavman realizes that only through physical love can he communicate. Still it is limited and limiting. Finally, after college, writing, in New York, there is Shell--Shell who stirs (and seeks) something more in Breavman; her loss brings the bitter foretaste of loneliness: he is afraid to ""live any place but in expectation"".... Cohen's portrait of an artist as a young man, the dilettante romantic prodded by the devil in the flesh, is a magnification of sensations, a reduction of values and a negation of commitments which ends in his inevitable alienation. But it provides an interchange of scenes and moods (with his mother, with his friend, with a prodigious, terrifying youngster at a summer camp) which are achieved through flashing perceptions and elliptical recognitions. As such, it is tremendously alive.