A novel in the youth-of-a-writer tradition results in the seemingly inevitable burgeoning of taut sensibilities and total recall. Norm MacLeod is born and bred in Butte, Montana, Depression era. MacCuish's MacLeod is a dreamer who rises to fury in moments of crisis. When his father is doomed by silicosis, Norm leaves school and takes to the mine, where he meets and loses his first great friend, Tango. With Tango's death, his mother and sister back East, Norm's boyhood is over and he enlists. The bulk of the book is bound up with the war -- the tough sergeant in boot camp, the endless rotgut language, the Marine landings on Pacific atolls and the close-in fight with fear, more real than the other enemy in its constancy. Only Hudge, the grade-B movie hero stamped genuine, remains uncorroded by it; Norm feels responsible for a superior's death, finds others even more culpable. One youngster, Wages, constantly endangers his fellows by his panic; his death leaves Norm free to find his wife in Arizona. As Tango's girl provided his first sex experience, Wages' wife is his first love- and Norm continues his pattern of taking up where his friends had left off.... There are forceful and poignant moments here, in particular the Butte portraits, but they are adulterated by much commonplace dialogue, literary referrals and poetical quotes, and a feeling that the symbolic scenes haven't really been shaken into place.