Sexual obsession for a younger woman narrated by a heavy- drinking, pill-popping, middle-aged Toronto speechwriter in a laconic, often funny, take-me-as-I-am-style. Second-novelist Gilmour (Back on Tuesday--not reviewed) gets the voice of Bix, his narrator, just right. If voice were all that counted, this book would be a runaway success. The problem is its narrow focus, conducive to claustrophobia and the repetition compulsion. Bix, freelance hack and unsuccessful novelist, no longer married and only an occasional father to his young daughter, is enjoying the life of a barfly and sexual gadabout in unstaid Toronto when he spots Holly Briggs, a young street-merchant. Physically, she seems to fit his requirements to a tee, although she is not as turned on by him as he by her. Also, there are other men in her life, a fact that serves only to feed his infatuation. It reaches fever pitch when she defects and Bix goes into a tailspin, hitting rock bottom during an all-night, painfully comic binge at which his tolerant ex-wife and a friend show up to rally 'round. He's alone, however, when the hangover hits. Slowly, he pieces his life back together again. Then Holly calls, and they play out the endgame. The sexual scenes have a gritty authenticity, but there is something slightly old-fashioned (recalling Kingsley Amis) about a book that asks empathy for a boyish mature man who has a passion for a woman neither he nor the reader ever gets to know. A darkly comic novel by a deft writer likely to do even better when he gives himself more elbowroom.