Troyat, who may be remembered as the author of One Kinus Two which Washburn published last year is the winner of the Goncourt prize. He has a faculty for tunnelling away at the cankers and foibles of mediocre people, a relentless realism directed against small-scale vices which is as repellent as it is graphic. The central figure, Gerard, the spider, is a warped man of about thirty, hypochondriacal, egotistic, effect -- whose whole life pivots on the attention he receives from his mother and three unmarried sisters. One by one his sisters marry, and one by one he attempts to foil each marriage as it threatens his throttle-hold over them and his almost perverted gratification from their dependence on him. It's a cruel, penetrating study of psychological unbalance verging on the pathological, and of a rather distasteful group of middle class people. Technically a more expert book than One Minus Two with a certain shrewd, hard brilliance.