It takes patience to stay the distance with Rosenblatt's second novel (after The Sun in Capricorn, 1989)--a tale of time in contemporary Florence, Italy, spent by a fiftysomething American indulging his midlife crisis. Patience is rewarded on the rare occasions when the author's peculiar combination of Brooklynese and high literary culture pays off in wit or insight; mostly, however, the first-person ramblings sound as though they had been left too long in a marinade of Hemingway, Joyce, and Fitzgerald. That literary glaze is an oddity, because the narrator, one F. Scott Hoch, purports to be an executive retired early from the office-cleaning business and not, as is Rosenblatt, a professor of English. In his wanderings, Hoch moons about an aborted early romance and picks up the scent of various attractive women, whom he haphazardly pursues. To give Hoch credit, he tells himself to grow up. But a certain petulance intrudes, it becomes increasingly apparent that he wants to pay his wife back for unmanning him with her accomplishments. It also seems likely that the reason Hoch becomes something of a surrogate father for a young Italian lad is to pay his own son back for his inattentiveness. The book never comes to grips with Hoch's real problem: the lack of a meaningful occupation now that he's retired at an age young enough to be up and doing beyond the golf green. A city like Florence deserves something better than these self-involved meanderings.