Further reflections on Growing Up Catholic Recently from the author of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes...........(1975), this time moving into fiction and on to college--Chicago's Elgrim University, a commuter-college in an old hotel that alter-ego-narrator Tim Conroy reaches by filthy subway: ""Even the air is dirty, as if each person had taken turns chewing it."" Amiable classroom anecdotes are mixed in with amusement-park dating traumas, neighborhood events like Leonard Cohen's grandmother's 85th birthday party, part-time jobs (bun packer, freight-car painter under the ""Da Vinci of the freight yard""), and--above all--Caepan. Caepan is Conroy's longtime spiritual mentor, a master garage mechanic with a common-sense approach to everything, including God (""a jerk""); and Conroy uses him as an alternate God, writing questions (""Is sex as immoral as everyone says it is?"") and getting answers ("" 'Immoral,' an interesting word""). College graduation brings the Patterson Public Relations Co. and intensified what's-life-for pangs, especially since girlfriend Sandra has dropped him, friend Leonard has rebelled against ""Thou shalt be a doctor,"" and Caepan--God--is dead. An attempt to add weight via a surprise epilogue doesn't alter the fact that this is a supremely mild and derivative stew, skillfully prepared, and spiced with one-liners (in a singles bar: ""I wouldn't buy a tie under these lighting conditions"") by a Catholic Woody Allen who sometimes only manages to be a Catholic Henny Youngman.