This is the first American edition of a short avant-garde British novel, initially published in 1973, the same year its author committed suicide. The hero, Christie Malty, is a young accountant with a London cake manufacturer. Christie's ""Great Idea"" is the application of rite principles of double-entry beyond bookkeeping to the world outside. For every debit incurred against him--in the form of flights, aggravations and insults--Christie undertakes to exact a credit. He lists these debits and credits in a ledger book under the headings ""Aggravation"" and ""Recompense."" At first, the listings in the ""Recompense"" column take the form of petty vandalisms and minor practical jokes, but soon Christie is exacting credit by bombing buildings and poisoning London's water supply. Johnson peppers the story with wry reminders of his own role in creating Christie and the other characters. Christie's mother appears at the beginning only to announce her own death by saying, ""I have for the purposes of this novel been your mother for the past eighteen years and five months . . . There is nothing further for me to do."" Toward the end, there is even a chapter in which the author announces to Christie that the novel has run its course, and that he intends to kill him off. A bare synopsis of the plot does little service to a mordantly funny, invigorating literary experiment.