Dickie is an editor at Gaskell Press and anybody who is in in publishing will know that the ""critically acclaimed"" applied on the fact sheet to Miss Birstein's last book is a Pyrrhic kiss of death. So would Sandra who is married to Dickie -- she knows all the nuances of the metropolitan literary life -- and most of the empty spaces. In between lunches at La Rochefoucauld -- where Hershel Meyers ""a beautiful intellectual in granny glasses"" who's no longer writing much of anything accidentally() hits her -- and home with Dickie who is always so ""marvelously agreeable"" and distant from what he was, what they were (""Was it because we were so young that it all seemed infinite?""). Miss Birstein's novel, more of an exposure than a story really, is full of people (Sandra's mother dying, for one thing, in a dreary dump in New Jersey while casting off her sister Leah -- at least more of a Cordelia than she was; Adam, a lover and British ""intellectual middleman""; a first novelist who achieved a Guggenheim but lost her children and husband en route, etc. etc.) and things which are on the verge of becoming chic -- perhaps kosher salt. You'll read it for what is said in such a sophisticated fashion as well as for all those recognitions on the underside of what is being said -- so stylishly, so entertainingly.