Strained, taut and chaotic, this novel follows a group of undesirables on a junket into hell. The only real and grotesquely fascinating character is the gargantuan Chick Midas, master comic. Midas adopts as many personalities off stage as on i.e. Midas the obscene, perverse genius; Midas the Jew; Midas the tortured, hate-filled schizoid; Midas the fetishist; and Midas the elephantine infant. Jordan Moore, the young narrator, joins Midas' entourage as they begin a cross country promotion tour to herald Midas' TV comeback. As this company of ""Beautiful Friends"" (backstage advisers, promoters, mistresses etc.) proceeds, they soon discover that they are fastened to the lashing tail of a splintering comet when Midas slowly degenerates into a psychotic Lenny Bruce. Running parallel to Midas' descent is the rise of Ozzie Burke, Midas' ""discovery."" Ozzie undergoes the transition from quiet anonymity to crowd raving acclaim as a too much Negro blues singer, a blues hipster who wails the creed of miscegenation to banal lyrics and a big beat. Ozzie's triumphs touch off some frantic teen mob riots that eventually culminate in a tragic death. A coast to coast televised nervous breakdown destroys the Midas personality but not the Midas touch...Mr. Waller's observations are acute and often withering but his audience may be limited to miser=able misanthropes.