Harvey Grosbeck's an Untermensch and although he keeps a low profile with ""minimal visibility"" -- he occasionally releases an irreverent remark (his managing editor is also ""dying of obscurity"") but for the most part he's the victim of his own glumth reflected in the city around him; trash all over, be it garbage or junkies and faggots; poor old Mrs. Perazzo, dying of cancer; or even his own (third) wife Madeline who's not as relaxed in the sack as she should be. His apprehensions heighten after Madeline is attacked by a mugger; still more when some Tarot cards are read indicating that there's ""disaster mitigated"" ahead; and still, still, more when he's chosen to attract attention as the good square citizen of the community and is beaten to death, or almost. . . . Harry sounds as doleful as a cantor as he talks about his own middle age and ""the weight of a thousand written fantasies"" in a world where only the worst is to be expected -- another kind of weight in terms of the novel's action or inaction -- but then Millstein is quite a wordsman and genuinely funny in spots so that Harry has a certain affectionate appeal as a Jewish rye milquetoast.