Johnny Rico is as much of a caricature as his name, a posturing stud, known in homosexual jargon as ""a very butch number."" He's taken a three year sabbatical, maintaining a puritanical rite of purification from the life he'd led before in L.A. as a male hustler. But now he returns, like an alcoholic stealing to the cupboard, possessed with a drive to free himself forever from the horrible fascination of places like Pershing Square, the top balconies of decrepit movie houses, Griffith Park. It turns into an obsession with numbers: he gives himself ten days...ten days in which to have thirty men and then quit. But we know he is doomed from the start since the author painstakingly points out that Johnny's ultimate, consuming need is to be desired. He considers himself ""straight"" according to ""The Myth of the Street""; the quaint notion that since he never allows or performs certain intimacies, he's still a regular guy. But he gradually becomes corrupted during the frenetic ten-day activities which see him make his goal, lose his soul. There is a certain perverse honesty about the book that makes it less a novel, more a psycho/sociological study about this Twilight Zone. As one conquest, discussing a previous relationship with a writer remarks: ""Now every time I pick up a hustler, I wonder if I'm going to end up between the sheets of a bed or the sheets of a book."" Maybe he has. By the author of City of Night.