It is over forty years since the publication of Young Lonigan and this is Farrell's fiftieth book. A story of the troubles and decline of an Irish Catholic family in Chicago during the Twenties and Thirties, it reflects the themes Farrell has been concerned with over the years--individual loneliness, the disparity between dreams and reality, frustrated hopes, the futility of human existence. You've got to admire his sheer persistence and the integrity of his lifelong enterprise but his style, so often criticized, is really deplorable. To tell us ""what happened,"" he is explicitly banal. Here are the Dunnes: two brothers, Dick and Larry, salesmen in the ""shoe game"" (though Larry hasn't worked in years); their sister, with a weakness for drink, confined now at home caring for their mother; Nora, the widow of a man no better than a tinker, with her impoverished brood; and young Eddie, Nora's son, a writer like Farrell himself, who seeks out a larger world. It is to Grace that Eddie dedicates his first book. She at least has shown some spunk, coming to this country during the Civil War, aspiring to a better life, taking a chance, whereas her children are a dreary lot indeed, whiners, narrow-minded, bigoted, wrapped up in their own hopes but victims, too, of hard luck. As it was, in either sense.