A fine first novel, with a rodeo background so vivid and authentic that against it the somewhat literary figure of the Doomed Clown, Shelly Foreston, gains what is rare for any myth- a whole new life. Shelly's story is told by Moose Gattling, an ex-bull-dogger. Moose first sees Shelly scared, bucked off by a rodeo bronc, and he is later saved in the ring from a Brahma bull by Shelly. As Moose drifts with Shelly and his friends from rodeo to rodeo, he watches Shelly, who had left a good family to become a great brone-rider, as he is slowly eclipsed by his far greater talents in the dangerous profession of rodeo clown. Shelly's proper home town girl leaves him; he is seduced by the wife of a vicious professional rider, and earns the enmity of most of his friends. At the end, alone, still aspiring, Shelly (his skull fractured by Cliff) puts on a great performance in an ape costume, but is fatally thrown from his last Brahma bull.... While story and background are used for maximum symbolic effect, they also- to a unique degree- capture the smells, sounds, work, danger and character of rodeo life. The characters are all absolutely, laconically, real. Short of joining a rodeo, this book is as good a way as any of entering the professional cowboy's tough, fascinating ingroup.