A jampacked, loving, funny, passionately serious first novel opposes the practitioners of life versus the theorists. Sam, who tells the story, grows up with Sol in a teeming Jewish neighborhood, and there are contrasts between his lusty, complex daily life and the tradition that is revealed, in a long flashback, and handed down by Sol Myers' grandfather through his wise, humanistic preachings to his congregation during a pogrom. Sam, the practical, is seen with other neighborhood boys at camp, later listening and talking at wild parties, experiencing disastrous and cheerful love affairs, spending a summer in the Catskills, and finally grappling with creativity in art school as he hones and shapes his morality against reality. Sol, the moody, godlike theorist, always hovers in the background. Between and around them, there is a lightning play of moral and bawdy stories from all religions, dreams dialogues, and Sam, Salinger-like but more fiercely realistic, searches for the loving communication between people. At the close, Sol leaves his wife for the lovely, wraith-like girl Sam loves, and gives Sam, instead, his journal, which is so devoid of everyday reality that Sam is left content with his own chaotic, immediate view of morality as inseparable from life. Here is a view, intense, crowded, and touching, which ranges from sex to ideas with the same rush of delight.