In this immensely interesting but bafflingly fragmented first novel, Joseph McElroy sets before the reader a truly impressive display of masterly craftsmanship and recondite virtuosity. David Brooke, the central character, an inverted solipsist, is obsessed by the notion that his self exists in other people and he projects himself into their lives in an attempt to ""smuggle"" his self out. Gifted, or cursed, with total recall, he compiles the ""memoir projections"" of a group of absorbing, fascinating and funny characters, among them--a Brooklyn Heights antiquarian bookseller, the denizens of an upper West Side residential hotel, a destructive, half-bogus, half-prophetic historian, a coolly calculating Oxford scholar, an expatriate from the New York Athletic Club residing on an island off the Italian coast, and, prominently, his own mother and father. Actually Brooke is in the process of a breakdown which eventually involves a half-willed amnesia. However, the fact that his characters or projections are more real than he is himself seems to bear out his initial conception. This is a strange but compelling novel. It should be noted though that the central and final metaphor of the book is that of the smuggler and his Bible which turns out to be just an empty box.