In this Freud-stricken novel, with its locale in the Deep South, the tale of Gale Ring, commercial painter, is told. Gael Ring, as the story opens, is on the verge of financial and mental collapse due to his inability to paint any more of his famous ""Ring Girls"". His agent leaves him, and the small town, once so friendly, slowly closes in on Gael and his wife, demanding their home, their car, their possessions. As a consequence, Gael travels along the borders of schizophrenia, paranoia, arrested development- all three in one. These mental aberrations reach their heighth in New Orleans where Gael goes to paint a portrait of a 70 year old woman. Here he is followed by imaginary pursuers; haunted by visions of his Ring Girl (who represents the inaccessible ""whore-madonna"" in all women); made unbearably guilty by his love-making to a 12 year old child. All of this acts as a kind of catharsis, his portraits restore his fame- and he returns home, financially and mentally happy. If at times confused, the writing is alternately precious and beautiful, and psychological-novel readers will be interested.