A first novel deals partly with the theater, partly with the currently ""cool"" generation, and partly with some of their elders against whose lives the coolness becomes slightly damp. Ben Horne, with an aggressive father and a near-hero uncle, is not sure of Maggi Clair, a young actress who thinks marriage will erase the problems of her loving life. Maggi's new play comes alive with the director Bubber getting the performances he wants from her, from Tony Amato, but not from Maggi's switch from Ben to Tony and then to another of the cast. Ben discovers in Martha, the producer's assistant, a contrast and a haven from Maggi, so that with the New Haven and New York openings a smash for Maggi he can eliminate her -- for Martha, leaving Maggi with only a fame and a procession of stale love affairs as a future. Bugged, not beat, people do not convince in their tired dissonances.