This is written by a man who grew up in one of the seamier suburbs of Paris and who still lives there, repairing watches. But in the past few years his writing came to the attention of Sartre and subsequently he has had three successful plays staged and translated. In this, his first novel, his background and an interior intensity capable of making the most out of the minute are demonstrated. Gugusse is one of those profoundly sad individuals who exist in the substrata of society. He is agonizingly shy, drifting without meaning or impact in a ""noxious cosmos"" of stench ridden halls, battered streets. He fills his interminably long days with dreams and tentative sorties--he is forever buying lottery tickets, entering contests, answering ads. For a while he finds a girl but he can't afford her; he seeks solace in movies and finally finds a kind of companionship in a bar where ""the tall man"" discourses nightly on politics. Gugusse, through ""the tall man,"" is maneuvered into a kind of quasi-communist activity ending in a rally where he is ritually beaten up by the cops. But he is still a shadow patsy, alternately filled with rage, despair and futile hope. The author engages your sympathies but he still fails to make his hero of much larger consequence than his ""timid adventures.