How John, born Janos to Hungarian immigrants, comes to realize that to achieve his one consuming goal of becoming a writer he must get into his own feelings, not prey on others for ""material."" It's an unoriginal and superficially dramatized lesson, probably more interesting to authors than to readers at this level. (John himself reads Hemingway, not YA trivia.) However, readers amused by Anderson's glib New York mini-tempests (The Rise and Fall of a Teenage Wacko) will find some laughs in the misunderstandings that ensue when John takes up with a flower-loving ex-con (""the inspiration I'd waited for"") and his parents, misconstruing this and that, believe John is dealing drugs. There is one delightful scene when John finds his butcher father cutting meat in his store's freezer room--swaying from side to side, swinging the cleaver, chopping away with a furious rhythmic pattern. . . inspired, John learns, by the taped classics that issue from his Walkman. (""Next to the titles, Dad had written specific notations: Telemann--flank steak, Bach--venison, Mendelssohn--veal with pockets, etc."") John's own pursuit of inspiration takes a more predictable route. Besides the broadly drawn ex-con, it involves an unimpressed English teacher, a punked-out but basically sympathetic girl, and a fancy New York party where John gets drunk with a famous writer and gets a devastating fix on his own endeavors. All in all, it's passingly entertaining.