A fluid voice propels this debut novel by an American who has resided in London since 1984, but Hall has unfortunately chosen two of the most overused topics in recent fiction: estrangement from divorced parents and drug use. American narrator Claudia, who has lived in London for some time, spends the bulk of her days smoking heroin with her Irish boyfriend, Crilly. Apparently she was enrolled in art school at one time, or if she is still enrolled she rarely attends classes. She is so deep into drugs that she has had a second trimester abortion because she was too stoned to notice that she was pregnant. Hall's present-tense descriptions of London and several episodes set there (particularly a visit to a pub on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday and a search of her flat by the police) have a gritty, realistic feel to them. Occasionally Hall draws on the desperate comedy of heroin addiction, as when Crilly insists they leave the apartment of a Frenchwoman who has nodded off after shooting up because he is insulted that she finds him ""common."" Then Claudia moves to California and begins attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings and going to therapy (even after her not-very-upbeat therapist informs her brusquely, ""The odds are stacked against you. You have no morality, no bedrock. Your family has neglected you."" Hall successfully recreates the junkie's failure to relate in Claudia's flat voice, but her ultimately trite story has as much appeal as watching a friend do drugs while you're straight. Even a minidrama surrounding her AIDS test fails to raise the stakes. A Bret Easton Ellis wannabe, but who'd want to be?