The circumstantial case, exhaustively blueprinted, of the New York theater as a backdrop for the story of a new playwright, his first play, its producer and cast, his family, his love life and all the stumbling blocks of his economic life. Wise and experienced in the ways of the stage, Mr. Rice exceeds his usual playing time with a bulky novel, crammed with theatrical lore, lingo, customs, practices and procedures, of the progress of rather gauche Eric, ex-GI, from his isolated Connecticut home and factory job through the Broadway entertainment world and all its ramifications. His mentor is a weary, understanding agent, his producer an accomplished veteran of many shows with artistic but not moral integrity, and his cast provides fireworks with their private and professional lives. He experiences every vicissitude of play production --changes in script, backing and housing bugaboos, star trouble both personal and performance, rehearsal setbacks, pre-opening and first night jinxes and a show that wins critical acclaim and slow public acknowledgement, an artistic although not financial success. But a jealous, individual quarrel between the producer and one of the owners of the theater is used for revenge and the theater leased to another show, so that Eric's has to close. His professional and romantic bruises prepare him for his second attempt. There is sober reality and knowledge of the stage and a feeling for plausible happenings and characters while the digressive inserts on theatrical technicalities form a solid bulwark for the story. A better book of show business than Damion's Daughter.