A certain protocol in all things"" -- that's Emmanuel Baskin, American in Madrid. Flamenco guitarist, of considerable talent. Random lover who won't be hassled. He just relocates. Jokesmith. Madman. Sometimes you suspect that Robbins is doing a number -- obstreperous, enzymatic, ignoble, absurd. But in time it grows on you as you follow Baskin and his entourage -- under surveillance as a communist and taking a quick trip out of the country; putting on quite a show at the British Embassy; engaging in a fight in a bar which takes the life of a man and costs him the tendons in his hand -- severed; mooning around wondering whether he'll ever get the use of it back. He almost does. At the end you might feel sorry for Baskin -- but that's not part of the protocol. Whatever -- Robbins' first novel with its tragi-comic riffs has a lot of drastic energy and style. Maybe someone out there will be listening (the John Lahr audience?). He certainly plays it for all it's worth.