This would be a better book if it were drastically cut, for -- spun out to formidable lengths, the story runs thin. It is one of these presumably autobiographical novels, tracing one Neil Glass as child, adolescent and budding artist. His mother is the backbone of the family; his father unreliable and alcoholic; the boy is forced into cheap commercial art as a means to livelihood. Ultimately, he faces the choice between a career as a painter -- and the security of commercial art and marriage. There is no particular distinction in the homely, over-familiar detail of the struggling years of youth; there is little new in the analysis of the internal conflict.