The story of twenty-year-old Dick Lawrence, brilliant unstable son of a tenant farmer, discharged from the service in the middle of World War II while his hated brother rights on to death, provides a long and steady bombardment of sensations and despair. Huddled with hatred of family and guilt for leaving his pregnant mistress, Dick spends a year in a decaying Georgian boarding house where he finds comfort from the confusion of rootlessness in women, drink and gambling. He steals, he hurts people -- he and his best friend's fiancee become lovers, and there is a terrible break for the three who are so close. The Army psychiatrist flits in and out of the picture, kind, hopeful, but a more fifty watt light in the dark in which Dick insists upon shrouding himself. Dick brings ruin of sorts to his friend Jack in managing through the fiancee to get him kicked out of med school paid by the Army; he himself is externally as well as internally scarred by his existence against the laws of God and good men, in a brawl with Big Joe the gambler. There is no indication that the lost year of wilfully misspent resources, of debauchery and drowning love and conscience and hopelessness and fear through the usual convenient excesses is not merely a lost year in the life of a young modern whose actions scream forth the wellknown refrain, ""lost, oh lost""... A stiff dose.