Joseph J. J. Rook III, a ""sophomoric intellectual"" when first self-introduced, tells all this in a logomanic first person -- he remembers, he recapitulates, he ratiocinates, he speculates at times, he TALKS. Convincingly to be sure but those that remember Mr. Cole's earlier novels, Olimpia and The Funco File, which had a lot of story, will find themselves hanging by a fingernail on the edge of the ""nothing-emptiness"" which sometimes is the place where Rook is searching for man, for absolutes, for himself. The early part tracks loosely through his past before his parents died early and suddenly and simultaneously (food poisoning), and his hated, hating father's death rattle included ""Ul gt yh yt."" The younger years (school, college, first girls, other people) conclude with Rook's entry into the army, and further induction into the pleasures of love and the pain of loss. Rook is archetypal in the sense that he's every young man in search of individuation -- easygoing, likable, inchoate; to some extent he is equally responsible for the weak specification of the novel as the eye elides over a great deal of random experience.