With the shadows of European events and refugees from Nazi brutality to point up the significance of this story of Max's dilemma, this emerges as a contemporary portrait of a Jew, impelled by mounting circumstance to defy law and society. Tragic in its implications, solid in its background, high-pitched in its emotions, this assuredly is not a novel for ""pop"" consumption. There is something of the feel of Native Son in its racial antagonism aspects, as Max, driven early to the shady ways of bootlegging and bookmaking, is caught up in the anti-Semitic tension of the last presidential campaign. The rumblings of threat to his business, the pending celebration of his parents' 50th wedding anniversary, the tension of his affair with neurotic, perverse Blanche, a Christian, produce a week-end of mounting drama, which culminates in violent death. A tragic, ironic book.