They shouldn't write a man off until he's dead. But they've done that to me...."" a fair complaint and charge which Farrell made- recently quoted in Esquire. Now, however, after reading this book, there is something of a temptation to write him off. It seems hard to think that the author of this pretentious portrait of a struggling young man in the Chicago of the early twenties ever achieved his considerable success as the author of the Studs Lonigan trilogy. Farrell's current hero is Eddie Ryan, again an obviously autobiographical figure, who works in a gas station to put himself through the University of Chicago. This book is about his determination to succeed, his loneliness, his hopes of meeting a girl he can love, and the intellectual challenge of his university courses. We practically take the courses along with Eddie Ryan; we know who the professors were, who next, to whom, what the classroom wit said, and sometimes with what the lecture dealt. Much of this material is , unrelated to anything else in the book. Farrell appears to have little idea what to leave in and what to leave out.....Farrell appears to have re-lived his young manhood in writing this novel, but he left out the transformation that makes autobiography an art.