A vivid, sometimes shocking first novel about a young seminarian's journey into sexual licentiousness and drug addiction. Abbott claims that his novel is ""fiction based on dream journals,"" and the narrative does have the quality of a fragmented nightmare. It begins in the early 60's, in an isolated monastery in Iowa (of all places) as the 20-year-old narrator, Armand Dupre (of all names), arrives to begin his long novitiate, it ain't all bread, water, and vows of silence, however--in fact, the Inviolate Conception Abbey is a hotbed of repressed homoeroticism. Armand soon falls in love with his angelic fellow seminarian Robbie; the two are discovered in a clinch by the cane-wielding head monk, and Robbie, in a panic, falls over a cliff to his death. As weird rumors abound--Robbie's body is not decomposing--Armand flees the monastery, eventually winding up in Paris as an itinerant sidewalk sketch-artist. There, he meets the up-and-coming young Italian actor Tomaso, who introduces him to S/M and heroin. The rest of the story is a hellish jaunt through the haunts of Europe's fashionable artistic crowd--with thinly disguised portraits of German filmmakers and English rock stars at hard play--before Armand dumps Tomaso and goes cold turkey, having finally finished mourning Robbie. A strange pastiche of Burroughs, Sade, Genet, et al. (as Abbot himself admits), but, oddly enough, the novel finally comes across as a mainstream story of grief and the possibility of recovery.