Olsen published three novels in the '60's and is now a practicing psychotherapist. This is his exploration of mainly middle-class, American, familial and personal roadblocks to a full, aware and ""human"" life. Olsen approaches some common woes as a writer of fiction might -- via oblique, impressionistic probes for patterns, and brief flights of intuition. ""We simply do not experience what we are all about"" taken out of context, is foggy at best; but Olsen's melange of illustrative portraits -- parents and children, men and women, husbands and wives in manipulative, role-playing straightjackets -- somehow all hangs together. He investigates the generation gap as a subliminal directive from parent to child to live out the elder's frustrated impulses; and he analyzes the male/ female relationship in its present transition as an outgrowth of sexism previously cemented by the mother/son bond. Women wield enormous power as ""mothers,"" so although Women's Lib is on the right track, go easy, go gently. Olsen also takes up the problems of homosexuals, burned-out sex partnerships and psychotherapy. In essense he is saying -- often with flair and sense -- that one should break out of constricting roles and merely live with open eyes and heart. Messy but appealing.