The story of a childhood, not a nostalgic remembrance of things past, nor a gay deviltry of youth, but a stark and rather gruesome picture of a way of life. The setting is a poverty-stricken lost town in the middle west; the past is seen through the eyes of the son of the superintendent of schools. His slightly better cultural background did not keep him from identifying himself with the scum of the town, a group of potential delinquents headed toward futility. Realism, unrelieved, -- school days, sexual awakening, minor humilities and disillusionment, pranks verging on the criminal -- not a pleasant picture. There is little of the Farrell brutality and uncompromising quality -- though it will appeal to the same market -- it is not so brittle and hard a book -- there is greater sensitivity. But at its close, one wonders once again, ""why it must be told?