These are the days for fictionizing the self made man, and an unprepossessing figure he turns out to be. There's Campbell's Big Beverage (the soft drink empire story); there's Henry Clune's By His Own Hand (the camera and film success story); there's Clyde Brion Davis' Thulburs in which the journalist tags along on the coat tails of bigness; there's Wilbur Daniel Steele's Their Town (in which a fortune is made by a poor boy with an idea). And now there is son of a Catskill farmer who died trying to meet impossible obstacles head on. Homer was going around things in his life, he decided and that he did, even when it meant ruthless riding roughshod over his younger brothers, leaving his mother with scarcely a word over the years, using a skinflint old lawyer to the limit of what he could teach him- and seeing him die without regret, learning about sex from uninhibited Aggie and letting her go to a whore house when jobs failed her, though she had made life possible for him along the thorny road to achievement, putting his reputation and his climb to success first every time -- until at the end, when it crashed around him, he couldn't take failure and killed himself. Homer is never very real- perhaps because he is too calculating, too inhuman. Homer is never very likable- though he was god to many. But through his story- spanning the years from 1833 on- one gets a picture of the dogged determination that helped build the sinews of the country.