Strange, symbolic first novel about addiction and a gay antique-toys dealer with a very substantial alter ego. As in James Carroll’s dark-fantasy fiction, the insubstantial acquires weight and danger here. Bowes strings his novel together from ten stories, published separately over the years, which may account for a certain passing raggedness as years leap by with only thin threads holding them together. Kevin Grierson, a Boston Irishman who now owns a Greenwich Village antique-toy shop called Half-Remembered Things, reflects on his 57 years: Kevin was born into a family haunted by Faileas, or the Shadow, a doppelgÑnger. His father died in the war, his mother became an alcoholic, and Kevin himself, before he was even 14, had known more than a hundred men sexually while hustling at the Y—and while his Shadow, named Fred, had been given life. Fred the Shadow is fully realized by Bowes, who makes him a fantastical living twin of Kevin, registering the boy’s worst moments, physically and mentally, just as the picture of Dorian Gray registers its subject’s excesses. Kevin is sent to military school to straighten out—but he’s much too odd to be accepted. He falls in with Stacey, a wealthy girl who leads him into amphetamines, and with Dr. X, a brilliant but addicted psychologist who runs a weird house indeed, featuring an oubliette for recalcitrant patients. Kevin runs off to Manhattan and makes a living hustling in Times Square. Eventually, Kevin attends a sobriety course, and the lesson takes. Meanwhile, though, his story is not told linearly but instead through flashbacks and foreshadowings as it moves along, a device that slices through any potential suspense—and makes for a hard read. The most moving moments here concern George, his housemate, who has AIDS and needs Kevin as primary care-giver. More promising than successful, with its many thinly dramatized characters all but demanding a scorecard to be kept straight.