Best known for his literary and historical criticism (Axel’s Castle, To The Finland Station, Patriotic Gore), Wilson (1895–1972) never gave up on fiction and verse. His first novel, reprinted a few times since its original appearance in 1929, comes from a university press, but with none of the scholarly baggage Wilson so deplored in academic texts. Neale Reinitz, however, also drops the prefaces Wilson appended in the ’50s, partly, one suspects, so that he could plunder them for his afterword. There, Reinitz rehearses Wilson’s own understanding of his flawed novel, a tale of love, art, and politics in the Greenwich Village of the ’20s. Reinitz identifies all the real-life parallels for Wilson’s “types” (including the obvious: Millay and Dos Passos). Though Wilson imagined his realist narrative as some symphonic arrangement in the manner of Proust or Joyce, his episodic tale is more in the American grain. Which shouldn’t surprise, given his true subject: the American character, as embodied in figures as different as a lefty intellectual and a Broadway flapper. His own best critic, Wilson recognized the schematic design of his prose, but he was too hard on himself—the book stands up to time.