Sometimes dazzling, sometimes precious and tedious debut-- about an overwrought would-be writer who has to work through the death of his father and a triangle involving him, a friend with AIDS, and his own wife before he can achieve a kind of cosmic peace. Narrator Peter Roche, in Chicago, tries to deal with his past by writing about it. In particular, he remembers the early 70's when he, his now-wife Allie, and his lost friend John Lemaster were often together. The story is Peter's account of those turbulent times, when his father, once a high-school and college football star, died of cancer--an event that, here, leads to Peter's involvement with Conlon, a therapist and near-surrogate for the lost father, and to endless pages of couch talk. In those ``days of sickness and poetry,'' as Peter terms them, he was a mess: ``I want to get torn apart almost as much as I want to get saved.'' This too-long book traces the breakdown of the friendship with Lemaster, the selflessness of Allie, and, eventually, the recontact with Lemaster as he dies of AIDS in San Francisco--thus allowing Peter to indulge himself at the dying man's bedside because, it turns out, Lemaster loved (and loves) Allie, and she him, though she's there for Peter too. But Peter, not trusting Allie, who kept Lemaster's condition and correspondence from him, must first have his midlife crisis before accepting his wife and daughter and the peace they bring him. Peter as narrator is so intense, and so full of long pseudo-philosophical reveries, that the novel gets bogged down in sophomoric expressions of poetic yearning and literary allusion--true to character but tiresome even so. Despite that, however, Creevy manages to create a callow lost soul whose struggle toward poetic affirmation is, at times, moving and sensitive.