A glowering fantastic journey through today's world of rotting values and polluted earth, represented by one small storm center in the Irish conflict. This odyssey is undertaken by Barnaby, a writer deserted by his wife and now strung out on drugs and under treatment. Barnaby's companion through the first part of the scenic tour of contemporary netherworlds is his ""muse""--the somber and wise Yorkshire lass, Emily Bronte. In and out of each other's preposterous lives, the two converse and then stumble upon a house containing terrorists, two captive children, a political prisoner, and an old Granny (Bronte's ""Nellie Dean""?). And Emily, stunned, finally asks, ""How did it get like this; so banal and so heartless?"" In Part Two, Barnaby, ""cured,"" travels without Emily and retraces their ghostly footsteps: a night with tiresome literati; phone calls to three women (ex-mental patient Claudia, a sex-touting therapist, and Barnaby's ex-wife); and rides through blasted urban landscapes. After circuitous conversations and some hefty sex, Barnaby arrives at the besieged house to negotiate between terrorists and Authority, all equally banal and heartless, but his mind is on the children and the anger ""that succeeds the trust with which children begin to explore their world in the belief that it is good."" This veteran Irish novelist and poet has not previously been published here, and his particular cri, though special, is fresh and stimulating.