Halper is the foremost of the proletarian writers today and this is his most ambitious book, and singularly timely in its analysis of the inside of labor conditions in a big organization. He still avoids the trammels of plot structure, and cross sections his subject, pointing up his underdogs with subtle characterization which sometimes becomes caricature, and inclining towards thinness in depicting his executives. His sympathies are with the little men, and he handles them with understanding poignancy, bitterness, tragedy, flashes of joy. A Chicago mail order house is his setting. The order pickers, the truckers, the clerks, the straw bosses -- he makes them live. His central figure is a young order picker, with ambitions which he is on the verge of realizing, when his sister's ""carelessness"" forces him down again to the grinding routine he hates. ""The chute"" is the symbol of the downward trend and the pace of the life.