This bizarre, nearly unreadable first novel seems to have been written to provide a frame for an eccentric essay, complete with illustrations, on ludics--the dynamics of play and games. The novel's hero, Mark Lesser, is a young guy working on just such an essay. He lives in Lone Back Bay, a hippie town north of San Francisco, has troubles with a beautiful but fickle lady named Pearl, and indulges in some insufferable post-adolescent soul-searchings. But all this seems merely an excuse to print chunks of the game-theory material--along with an impressive but meaningless gathering of quotations and anecdotes and epigraphs from or about famous people. There's an average of about four quotes per page, with an extra italicized bon mot running at the bottom of every column. You may find a joke or line worth remembering here, like: ""A bridge partner once told George S. Kaufman that he was going to the bathroom; Kaufman told him it would be the first time that afternoon he knew what he had in his hand."" But you won't find a novel.