The three main characters in this self-described ``biographic fiction''the author, his wife, and a homeless man they befriendare real; beyond that, it's difficult to tell what's true and what's not in this often confusing book. Attorney/writer Levin tries to tell two stories: the tortured tale of a longtime homeless man named Jimmy Don Polk and the self- absorbed tale of California attorney/writer Bob Levin (The Best Ride to New York, 1978). The two met in 1989 when Levin took an interest in Polk and tried to help the ``black man in a wheelchair.'' In telling the homeless man's story, Levin also relates intimate details about the lives of Bob Levin and his supportive, psychotherapist wife, Adele. But most of the book consists of long, first-person monologues from Polk, the longest by far being his fantastic Vietnam story, which takes up about half the bookand turns out to be an elaborate lie. When Levin discovers that Polk's tale of being conscripted into a super-secret army unit and sent to Vietnam to kill the Cong is not true (Polk was shot during a convenience-store robbery and never went to Vietnam), he is devastated. Why? Mainly because Levin nurtured high hopes for turning Polk's lurid war story into a book. ``I was so proud. I was certain my book would be significant.'' Levin, with Adele's encouragement, decided to write the book anyway. It comes with two happy endings. Polk overcomes his alcohol and drug addictions and finds a comfortable place to live. Levin's manuscript is accepted by ``a small, independent publisher in Texas'' recommended by ``a novelist friend.'' The result could be titled ``Bob Levin's Angst-Ridden Quest to Publish a Book about Jimmy Don Polk.''