In a preface to this very funny and satirically accurate novel, Cronin states that ""this apparent account of about two years of his life was found among the late Patrick Riley's socks, rags and papers after his death."" Riley's ""history"" is a relation of his misadventures after he quit his job as assistant to the secretary of a Dublin grocers' association, in favor of beggardom. Riley, a sometimes poet, feels that he can earn a living from handouts in O'Turk's pub (which attracts a literary-political crowd) by suggesting that he has left the capitalistic rat race out of left-wing and anarchical principle. He does make a few touches among eccentric gentry; there is Sir Mortlake, his landlord whose incidental income is derived from deposits on empty Guinness bottles; and Sir George Dermot, who takes Riley to live with him in his ancestral castle where the chief torture is Sir George's choice of nightly musical entertainments designed for the edification of the castle's assortment of tatter-demalions. Riley escapes to Dublin to become the associate editor of an irrelevant periodical where he gets by on his promise until he is advised to move on to London. He is introduced to the ironies of the welfare state (though he is in no sense one of the deserving poor) whose laws he finds seem to work in inverse proportion to one's need. However he falls in with the BBC crowd, notable primarily for their weeds and the ridiculous Celticisms of their speech, and through them he acquires a patron, Amelia. She is inclined towards Marx and Freud but not so far as to have any effects on her cotton plantation. She proves too hard a taskmaster for iley and when last seen he was striking out again, once more having no place to go... Cronin promises that there is more to the life of Riley and that's a relief for his progress here, alas, appears to be steadily over the edge.