When Edith Bentwood answered the job ad for ""Cultural Director"" at the Buena Vista public housing project, she walked into a world of Molotov cocktails, broken glass, young boys with switchblade knives, and welfare women breeding to increase their cash allotments. Revesz, who once held a similar job in a California project, has adopted the fictional format to dramatize the accumulated horrors of life at the bottom. Not that her middle-class soul, encased in politeness, didn't love the throbbing energy of the place: dirt, passion,--life was lived close to the bone. Whatever one thinks of Bentwood's missionary efforts among the savages, the dramatizations are overdone. The shit-kicking Big Mama who runs the tenants council is a ""combination of Lady Macbeth, Ma Barker, and Gloria Steinem."" The charismatic young black ""mayor"" of the project, Tommy Gun, is Jack the Ripper and Abe Lincoln with a ""little of Gable's charm for spice."" The rest of the project people are a circus sideshow of misfits, cripples, criminals, and lost souls--yet one senses that Edith Bentwood genuinely feels for them. When the political big-shots begin a campaign to let Buena Vista fall into terminal disrepair so it can be razed for the benefit of land developers, Bentwood is ready to do battle for the tenants. A romance with the no-nonsense project cop blossoms amid the garbage just as she thinks she can't take it any more. Somewhat overwrought--but angry and caring in just the right proportions.