As you might guess from the title, gloom is thick upon this first novel from beginning to end--and Braverman isn't yet adept enough to knock it back much. But still, under this book's black skies live some impressive, fully-realized characters. Rose, 30-ish, divorced from a genius/Star-Trek-freak, lives as concubine to a predatory painter who provides her with cocaine for mainlining. Her twilight masochism is suddenly broken into by a call from her mother, Francine--46, hard-as-nails, a TV producer: Rose's father, whom Francine divorced, is back in the hospital with the cancer that first appeared 20 years before and ma de the man a permanent scout for disaster. How father, mother, and daughter live through these days--three victims--is Braverman's frame. Rose sits at her father's bedside after most of his throat has been removed and tries to cheer him with metaphors culled from his lifelong career as a horseplayer; he answers on scratch pads: ""THERES NO PT. 2 ALL THIS SUFFERING. WHY"" Francine's bitterness, disappointment, and vulnerability crust right at the surface of her bitchy dialogue--and Braverman keeps all emotions constantly on the rinse cycle, screams and plaints. So there's never a moment's respite here. But when the book is done, a sense of survival remains, of having gone through something with the characters--and that is enough to make this a creditable, however uningratiating, debut.