Irish novelist Wilson’s first book, published to considerable critical acclaim in the UK in 1989, has waited almost a decade to be issued here. Age has not treated this exuberant first-person account by an Irish vagrant of his life on London’s streets particularly well. Ripley, a young man who has come to England fleeing both the violence in Northern Ireland and his own demons, is bright, angry, garrulous, and ultimately somewhat wearing. His record of his childhood in Belfast, his disastrous career at Cambridge, and his difficult, sometimes horrific, life in London is vivid, moving, but finally too long, flawed by an expansiveness (not uncommon to young novelists) that treats every event, even the most minor, as being worthy of mention. Still, Wilson possesses an infectious zest for language, and an unerring eye for the specifics of life on the street. His more recent novel, Eureka Street (not reviewed) demonstrated greater discipline with no diminution of inventiveness.