The author's first two books, The Human Season (see p. 466, 1960) and The Pawn Broker (see p. 478, 1961) won excellent reviews: so should this posthumously published novel. Norman Moonbloom is the connecting thread in many succinctly and vividly described lives. Weekly rent collector for his brother's several decaying apartment buildings, Norman is at first merely an automaton, popping in and out of various domestic dramas, promising repairs, collecting money, and going home to his own dreary solitude. Later, after Norman suffers an illness and experiences a rebirth into humanness, he begins to repair the tenants' rooms himself and to become involved in their lives. Norman's one man crusade is touchingly frenzied, inept, funny and doomed. His brother is about to fire him as the book ends, and his new humanity has helped no one much; it has mostly sensitized him and freed him into a chaotic reality. But the lives around him are so marvellously sketched in precisely recorded dialogues or scenes that Norman's descent into reality has an almost mystic power. Mr. Wallant's ear for speech, people, habitats, attitudes evokes both a purgatory and a wild, real, comic, tragic semi-tenement world, in which hope and Moonbloom still spring, in odd ways, eternal.