This is the first book to appear here of a very young and very successful Japanese writer considered the most ""promising"" since Yukio Mishima--a less formal writer to be sure, with a restless, somewhat wayward style all his own. Admirably catching the squirming, scurrying, scuttling progression of his young protagonist Bird, with his dream of escape--Africa. But his wings are soon clipped by marriage, and by the birth of a child with a brain hernia for whom the doctors offer only the gloomiest prognosis--life as a ""vegetable baby"" if the infant can survive surgery. Running from the hospital, Bird takes refuge with Himiko (also a fugitive from her husband's suicide), and after his initial impotence through her has an enormously gratifying experience. (Much of this story--striated with obsession and also with details of clinical if eclectic coition--is also reminiscent of the much older Kobo Abe.) Running again, this time with the baby he has taken from the hospital to permit it to die, Bird finally salvages himself through the child, gives up his mythic flight for the foreordained realities of existence. . . . By no means everybody's book, but one which succeeds on its own terms and through its high- strung spontaneity and imaginative agility.