Here's a dark horse, which may be off to a good start early in the year. A new writer -- to our knowledge -- with more than a suggestion of the glamorous romantic manner of Leonard Merrick of yore, and a spice of the modern note to savor the whole. The story of a vagabond artist who will have naught of his nouveau riche sire with his shoddy amours and his streak of vulgarity, and who is steeped in an overweening conviction of his own genius, come what may to those who cross his path. Nick is a graceless youth with undeniable charm. Anna, his gypsy mate, brings a new element into his unstable life, with her nonchalant acceptance of an odd situation and her somewhat belated attentions to the child she has boarded with Holy Mo and his sister Rachel. A motley array of characters -- a kaleidoscope of Manchester on the fringes of the artistic, the sporting, the sordid circles of life. Extremely well done and easy reading though a bit highly seasoned for the conservatives.