In his Preface, Burgess claims that his two-volume autobiography (this being Volume I) will close his writing career. If so, the author of such potent inventions as a Clockwork Orange and Earthly Powers passes from the literary scene on a rollicking, energetic note. This is lively reminiscence suffused with irony, a gently farcical account of a confused but not unhappy youth. Writers, Burgess states, are "not remarkable people. . .the career of a taxi-driver is far fuller of incident." Often true, and true of the bare bones of Burgess' life. Yet it is his genius to present the minutiae of his life's first half (this volume covers up to age 42) not as flat detail, but as reverberatory springboard for social, psychological, and philosophical speculation. Asides such as "social mobility is built into women and may be an aspect of their biology" season nearly every page and provide universal reference for Burgess' particular experiences, in this case his lifelong attraction to restless, peripatetic women, especially his free-spirited wife, Lynne, who conducted quiet extramarital affairs, including one with Dylan Thomas, for the duration of her liason with Burgess. Sex, in fact, more than the religion implied in the title and more than the music which was Burgess' early passion (he began writing seriously only in middle age, harboring hopes until then of being a composer) proves the metronome clocking his life; salty, teasing descriptions of couplings abound, adding spice to Burgess' arched-eyebrows telling of his middle-class childhood in Manchester, WW II service on the home front, and intellectual and geographical wanderings (including a lengthy stay in Malaya, colorfully evoked). A wise and witty autobiography, resplendidly entertaining and chock-full of the memorabilia of a typical life lived with atypical fervor: top-drawer Burgess.