This is a luxuriously licentious view of fourth century Alexandria during the reign of Constantine. Rome's gods are declining, Catholicism ascending. A red-headed Christian convert named Karoton, the son of a cynical lawyer and the hero of this book, is consumed by the idea of becoming pure by castration, and also determined to commit one heroic deed for posterity. Though he never takes the knife to himself, he does throw a dead goose at the emperor and at Jupiter's statue in full public view. Becoming famous in exile, he returns to Alexandria ten years later as a member of a new administration. But that crumbles and we last see him awaiting his own assassination. The novel runs straightforwardly for halfway, then collapses into a circus of styles and fragments. Some scenes seem simply to hang in the air. Character development is minimal; the story is flooded with too many people, and background material about early Christian politics is often tedious. Translated from Hungarian, the novel's sense of streets and statues is very good. But...we award Mr. Faludy one bronze fig leaf with oak leaf cluster for having written the most phallus-oriented novel so far this year.