This is a difficult book to appraise, for an instinctive distaste for the substance and the medium -- while recognizing its impact -- puts it in the class with Native Son or The Postman Always Rings Twice. Commercially, the book has a greater hurdle, for that type of book, carved out of the sordid underworld life, written in the vernacular of that life (demanding constant use of a dictionary of slang) has definitely seemed to be ""off the books"" these two years past. That does not lessen the fact that this ugly slice of life -- Chicago's tenderloin district -- should be known if the challenge it gives to society is to be met. This is the story of Polish immigrants, of Brune Lefty, whose ambition turned towards the limelight of a successful career in the ring; of Shefft, hatrayed by Lefty into a life of the streets and brothels -- a side issue is what is their own pitiful romance. A dark and sordid picture of evil of the streets and joints, the flophouses and crowded tenements, the gutters, the petty underworld of pimps and crooked small time politicians and cheats and killers and dopsters. Hopeless -- unsavory -- and handled with a certain crude understanding and sympathy and compassion, while never veering towards anything but stark realism.