Black humor from oh-so-red East Germany? Nyet! But Yes! Every bit as fresh and inventive a character as Heller's Yossarian in Catch 22, the ""Sailor"" is one Bonifax who finds himself adrift on the Acheron sea of post-war Germany. His flag? A ""neutrality certificate"" signed by three heads of state. His aim? ""To be a four master with a broad red hull line and a full wind astern."" A German Huck Finn with a touch of Billy Liar, he abandons home to: become the first ""human being"" Mayor appointed by the Russians; spend ? months trapped in a cave playing Field Marshall to an anthill; accidentally aid Hitler's barber in a hilarious escape; make love over an unexploded bomb (and elsewhere;) attend a party in perpetuo given by a Czarist razor blade manufacturer; land in prison where he is treated to philosophical lectures on preventative torture by a thoughtful guard; bequeath his beloved neutrality certificate to an unborn child, and finally dampen the Third Reichian spirit in a group of Gestapo imitators (the No-Nosers) by the judicious use of fire-extinguishers. It's funny and sad and often grim. Mr. Bieler has a great talent. He should be read both East and West.