Herbert Gold is an infuriating writer. As a chronicler and critic of ""hippitude"" Manhattan style, he has adopted the ways and means of the beat writers -- the unremitting staccato rhythms which can frazzle the nervous system into a kind of sympathetic neurasthenia. Unfortunately, in a healthy-sized novel (and Salt is almost 400 pages) it sometimes proves an almost unbearable reading chore...Peter Hatten, the central antagonist who attempts to convert Danny, an old war buddy, to the cult of cool, is a fragmented, bored stock broker who rides the Freedom Bus with neither destination nor purpose. Having invested all in the palliative powers of the orgasm, he is short changed even in the market of lust. He guides Danny through the city -- to the village hamburger joints where thin young men gather in tapered pants, to the easy money of literary whoredom along Madison Avenue, to the Hamptons -- North, East, South, and West --, most importantly, to the ""transaction"" of love and the simulation of sincerity. Maddening, powerful, undisciplined, brilliant, Herbert Gold has devastated a city and its people. Would that he had ""let up"" every once in a while. Beethoven and Shakespeare knew better.