In an acutely moving second novel, Kadohata (The Floating World, 1989) again records the spin of worlds--of pain or maybe love. Some of it makes sense; some of it does not. (``Is the world as wiggly for you as it is for me?'') The time is 2052 in L.A., decaying in a disintegrating landscape where the stars have faded behind pollution, disease is common, raw violence is on the rise, and the gap between castes, government, police and people turning feral is unbridgeable. A 19-year-old Japanese-American woman hopes to survive. Narrator Francie leaves her aunt after the aunt's boyfriend has been arrested. She enjoyed observing their love, but ``with people dying or getting arrested...you hated to love people.'' Francie decides on college for something to do and works on the college paper. Here are her first friends in L.A. Besides Mark, soon to be her lover, there are: a former gang member, a misfit, a slapdash version of an investigative reporter, a minor celebrity who may or may not be a murderer, and Jewel, the chief editor, dying of cancer, who at first can't shake loose from an abusive lover. With Mark, Francie visits elders and a tattoo artist (tattooing is a proud matter like ``challenging God''), notes death and dyings, travels about, bribes with gas and water ``creds,'' while here and there Francie finds things to admire--a bead, lovemaking, an infrequent blue sky. At the last Francie and Mark will pay tribute to people dead, and with the last rays of sunlight hustle away from a gathering mob. Kadohata's 2052 L.A. is a strangely familiar worst scenario of environmental and political doomsayers, and it's darkly illuminated here by grandly scary to theatrical conceits. But Kadohata locates within the ``melancholy, fatigue and disappointment'' the tender heart of love--buried deep. A beautifully crafted novel that warns and hurts and delights.