An oddly beautiful first novel, this is almost certain to create some sort of literary stir. In a style that is experimental, shaded and subtle, Mr. Buechner writes of a bookish coterie who live in or just outside of New York City. There is the elephantine but not boorish Mr. Tristram Bone who fancies himself a priest, who owns a monkey named Simon, and who is in love with Elizabeth Poor. And there is the charmingly enigmatic Elizabeth who glides and flits and could really love almost anybody. She has a young son, Leander, at college, who in turn has a young instructor friend, Paul Steitler, with whom Elizabeth is having a rather aimless affair. This course of action provides the major plot drive; Elizabeth denies all; Tristram's priesthood is upset; and Leander and Paul are accused of sustaining a homosexual relationship. There are superb minor characters on the fringe: Maroo, Elizabeth's mother, who is brilliant, astute and something of an artist; Motley, an author, unctious and unpleasant; Emma, Tristram's German maid, who is rigid and stalwart... A study in nuances of character and atmosphere, this is delicately oriented and finely drawn. For a special market, however.