The scatological documentary of everyday life in Madrid in 1942 is unpleasant, sensual and violent. In a series of vignettes which center mainly around Dona Rosa's cafe, there is a vivid and intimate exposure of many poverty-stricken people- among them a post, a prostitute, a homosexual, a consumptive, and a woman who likes to watch young girls undress. Their circumference is the cafe, or the street, or their tenements. Uppermost in everyone's mind are the constants of hunger and fear. Certain incidents are unforgettable-such as the murder of an elderly woman who is strangled with a towel- but for the most part, this is a below street level report of greed, ugliness, frustration and small satisfactions, and it has a certain gamy realism and stark brilliance. Cela has had a distinguished press in his own country and in England. Libraries beware.