The man who got away -- just disappears -- is George, a television playwright -- the type you think of as good old George -- on the evening after he has attained recognition in a world where someone or other has always been ahead of him. His cool if not chilly wife Ruth with her ""incurable calm"" waits for a short time before putting his things away in the attic. Soon it is apparent that George is up there circling backward through the experiences of his disappointing life: his love for another girl who had loved another; his admiration and more, at one homoerotically suggested point, for Archie, a golden boy who always managed to be ""the Pulitzer prize taker of all time""; and backward, ever backward, to the initial implant of failure in his unwanted beginnings. . . . This is certainly Elliott's most successful book since Careful, He Might Hear You, once again with all those touches of glistening gracious living which appeal to the not-so-moderns who prefer to remember it as it was, say back in the '40's, after all that grubby telling it like it is. Without the comedy, it might be for those who enjoyed Topper rather than The Exorcist -- a paranormally catchy idea with rueful surprises which show, among other things, that a man's nature as well as time can turn -- counterclockwise. It should be read.