Runner up in the Greystone Bookman's Prize contest. The portrait of an artist, which, it seems to me, never cuts quite deep enough. The story is told by his closest friend, Al, and through his eyes we see Walter from childhood on in a small midwestern town. Sensitive, solitary, difficult, he alters the lives of all whom he touches. He goes to Chicago, falls in love with Eunice, whose unhappy marriage ends in divorce, and who marries him out of pity. The marriage disintegrates, as one commercial success is followed by increasing acclaim, decreasing funds, and encroachments on the artist's need for seclusion. Death brings an end -- and Eunice is free to turn to Al, the narrator, whom she always loved. Somehow, it doesn't quite come off; it overreaches and never quite attains its goal. Just another book.