New York's East Village is a challenging arena for one's formative years and a fictional favorite for first novels. Anything goes. In this case it happens to 18-year-old Robert Probish. Refugee from bleak family life in Queens with vague artistic leanings. Robert is really unformed. And shapeless. His overly solicitous landlord Mr. Goldfarb almost turns him anti-Semitic; his hang-over friends from high school use his tenement pad for love-ins; a neighbor's boyfriend threatens to emasculate him; another neighbor, Stark, a gloomy artist from Nebraska, fascinates and antagonizes him. In these short weeks Probish's friends gas him with roach spray; send him out on a ""mixed drink"" trip (LSD and amphetamine); he is used by Stark to contact an old benefactor (an aging homosexual); and eventually everyone combines to literally tear the walls down driving landlord Goldfarb to a heart attack. The book thrives on scenes and there are some genuinely funny moments. Probish survives and will perhaps go on to a healthier, heartier character development. Unfortunately throughout he has been overwhelmed.