When first met, Paul Held, a professor, is attending the deathbedside of his closest friend August who has cancer--August who both churlishly and generously turns over his wife Ruth to Paul. No burden--Paul is in love with her. But shortly thereafter he's in an accident, losing sight in one eye; it should be removed forthwith, before a sympathetic reaction occurs in the other. Paul makes it no easier for himself than does author Penner in this first novel--Sisyphean in view of natural reader reluctance. As time passes and Paul's vision blurs into obscurity, he tries to conceal the fact in order to secure both his expected tenure and Ruth--although in between there's a young student who moves in with him and loves him and helps him. The novel is half and half: the personal parts are uneasily sentimental; the clinical, almost documentary sections about Paul's loss of vision, his circumvention of his handicap are all interesting. However, to redeem the experience for others, there's the firm advice of a doctor: ""a kind of suicide is called for. You cash in your chips. . . find an entirely new game."" Paul does--overcoming resistance, evasion, and incapacitation.