A somewhat cross-eyed (but anything but cross-tempered) view of family life today is revealed through the Marvels -- Ben, 65, and Alma, 63, -- and their organization for their 40th wedding anniversary (not that Ben is too enthusiastic). Alma wants their four children (Evelyn, Cotton, Bushrod, Elsie) and all their children by their various marriages to be present at their open house for the whole town of Hickory, Mass. Alma's ancestor worship puts her in the hands of Neil Sligh whose play for her granddaughter Lee sparks her into rebellion against the (well) landed locals. Elsie's ex-husband, Harry Mercury of radio and TV, imports the Indian Prufrock as one of his stable of writers and Prufrock's tireless study of nervous behavior, involving trapping victims in word games, triggers another troublesome area and does eliminate Malcolm Johnsprang (a ""pure distillate of a prime and irreducible Ass"") as a suitor for Lee. And then there is Bushrod who upholds Civil Liberties and is set to defend Aronson (but it turns out he is not a Jew -- he is a Swede) and de-segregates quickly with the colored maid. With proof that the family is going, and the clan gone, the shake-up here is soon a shambles and, even if at an older age level than his previous books- De Vries single-handed continues his pursuit of the art of complete chaos.... For his followers who, while admiring his verbal dexterity, may have -- we among them by now -- symptoms of recurring dizziness.