Obviously semi-autobiographical, this first novel by a young Englishman who has written articles and translations is about a young English expatriate (an aspirant journalist/translator) in Paris and there is a great sense of life and realism conveyed through a remarkable flair for small moments, tactile impressions, cluttered landscapes. But it is not a celebration of life, merely a rather sad examination of it as the hero/narrator wanders listle through the Paris gutters noting the size of the bedbugs, the class distinctions the whores, the viscid slime of the streets, etc. He is also a marvelous non-reactor violence seems to follow him as he witnesses police brutality, racism, Algerian riot sadism, also etc. His closest friends are expatriates (the French are generally depited as a particularly vicious lot). There is Clive, old school chum, one step up the social ladder (he has a job), who spends a great deal of time getting rid of his 28-year-old virginal state; Roger, self-induced neuter who finds a home with the peculiar set known as the ragpickers; Alexander, the colored homosexual and Rachel, American Jewess, with whom the narrator has a tenuous affair. At one point our hero refers philosophically to ""lives led almost completely in parenthesis"" and following the meanderings of these lives may tend to leave the reader in a state of soporific paralysis. He writes well and perhaps in the future the author will come to harsher terms with himself.