If, ever a character validated the loser-winner theory of human endeavor, it's Miss Flora Meszaros, the lovable nincompoop of Mr. Atwell's Depression novel. She is a loser extraordinaire who, within the course of a single year, loses her job as a commercial artist (she can draw neither hands nor feet), botches up a Herculean store mural (she draws a horizontal mural vertically and drips a great deal), gets expelled from the Communist Party (she wakes up too late for dock picketing), and loses a stammering lover (he falls for Cha-Cha-Charlotte). Flora also runs a school for young artists; and into her drafty West Side studio come the artists and models whose careers she attempts to manage -- some of them deceived by artistic juices which run short of talent, others of them burdened by talent which falls somewhere behind genius. A girl from Jackson Heights gets her nose bobbed in an effort to get off her parents' studio couch, a xylophone player misses Major Bowes' mark. Despite the fact that a major Depression becomes something of an irrelevancy, Atwell's work is extremely likable, frequently hilarious, a paean to compassion, determination, and all kinds of dreams.