A fictional memoir of growing up in the Argentine pampas from the literary correspondent of Le Monde, elegantly translated from the apparently elegant French. Bianciotti's mixture of Italian, Latino, and French sensibilities, laid out chronologically in impressionistic, poetic vignettes, is more an archetype of a maturation story than a story itself; even his title pits the Spanish-speaking night of his former self against the French-speaking day of his present self. His present self is gay and looks back upon both a heterosexual and a homosexual affair during his student days--in the 1950's, when Bianciotti had moved from the country to Buenos Aires--peeling off layers of experience in the manner of a philosophical inquiry. Analysis, not judgment, is Bianciotti's aim: He makes his brutal father a target, not of recrimination, but of speculation--how the man got that way, how much of him endures in his son. Similarly, the animals of the estancia are not meat and fur and feathers to the writer, but individual, helpless souls. Were Bianciotti a reporter rather than a novelist, his most effective writing would be those pages describing Buenos Aires under Per¢n--not because of the dates and events he records but because of the mirror he holds up to that distant paranoia. Paranoia leaps from the streets onto his pages, but just as often, as he says, ``Memory will still lead me astray, by reserving for events a fate disproportionate to their importance.'' Thus his long aside, for example, on the depth of his cradle. No one would deny Bianciotti's originality or poetic insight. Those who call him enchanting, however, may be equalled in number by those who call him precious.