Behind every thing there is almost always something else hidden."" Certainly more than meets the eye with playful images and conceits, while most of it takes place in the head of Mr. Malerba's scapegrace little stamp dealer, confined in his small shop with its ""oder of gum arabic. . . of faint mold."" In the beginning, he is married to a spiteful wife; he is an insomniac; he smokes too many cigarettes. In the smoke rings--there's the lovely Miriam whom sometimes he suspects (ah, the serpent) of infidelity with his good friend Baldasseroni. But then, she doesn't even know him. He takes her to a radiologist for some other latent malignancy: he later consigns her to Hell-in fact he may have killed her. He's a Cannibal; he's a Sorcerer: he's a free-floater with the motility of a paramecium. Is he anybody? Is he everybody? Perhaps, and the book, while an eclectic entertainment, is prankishly ingenuous, imaginative. volatile.