A ballad out of another sad cafe -- a novel in the form of a smoky monochrome which does not really tell a story but, in snatches, fills in the lives of those who come there -- all those odds and ends of failure. Like Frank who had once married but is now alone, running a one-arm gas station; or Janice, especially Janice, who is a waitress with an out-of-work husband and two children at home -- Janice who knows that she will ""grow old and shabby like her clothes -- she remembered that in bed Ray smelled like an old coat -- but it mustn't show, that one lived expectantly."" That one hopes even if there is little left since ""that was where fate crapped out."" Circumscribed as the novel is both in intention and designation, Miss Davidson has not tampered with the' reality she has elected to project via marginal lives which are creased with bitterness early on. As chilly as that formica tabletop, but insistently aware.