A young out-of-work actor, a homosexual going through an identity crisis, is yanked away from N.Y.C.'s underlife to a New Jersey lakeside--and a tentative redemption by a woman who is a cross between an earth mother and Brett Ashley. A first novel--writen in mock-Hemingway--about people Jake Barnes might or might not get drank with. It's August 1988, and the greenhouse effect has Manhattan in its grip. Our hero, the son of a minister, makes his way through a realistically described downtown, meeting with various acquaintances, having meals, chatting: there is some fair-to-middling satire of the ""scene,"" but for the most part the story chinks along until the narrator meets Kate--""the first openly nice person I'd met""; ""Men fell in love with her all the time."" Unfortunately, though, much of the subsequent dialogue between the two reads like parody: "" 'I missed you, old man,' she said. 'I really did.'"" "" 'Hell,' I said. 'I missed you, too.'"" Off, finally, to New Jersey--after various Manhattan complications and, of course, more complications in New Jersey. For one thing, there's Jack (Vietnam's in his background): ""There is no escape from what is basically intolerable."" Jack beats up our narrator, who is in the process of turning domestic, though Katie, naturally, is there to cradle him in her arms as he describes his condition: ""Paul said my braises looked pretty, but Mickey said, no, purple was not my color."" Then, the expected irresolute ending. Narrator: ""What do you think then?"" Kate: ""'I don't know,' ""she said. 'Maybe.'"" Narrator: ""I slid my arm around her waist, and she leaned her head against my shoulder. The sky grew brighter."" Kate: ""'Yes,'"" she said."" Narrator: ""'I'm glad,' I said. 'I'm glad.'"" Ho-hum. The evocative title gets frittered away by a style that has an identity crisis of its own to contend with.