A sensitive portrait of the man who has everything and nothing, from the pseudonymous prize-winning Japanese author Tsujii--a tale enriched by the insights gained from the writer's other career as founder and CEO of a giant conglomerate, which includes the Inter-Continental Hotel chain. Rereading Pascal's PensÇes has only further reminded the middle-aged narrator, Junzo, of the difficulty of resolving problems with the clarity ``one brings to bear on solving a geometrical problem.'' Alienated from his colleagues, worried by his disintegrating family, Junzo is also aware of his own inadequacies, especially in his marriage, and his youthful attempts at left-wing rebellion that failed so humiliatingly. Founder and CEO of the Maruwa Department Stores, Junzo, divorced and without children, has been as successful a businessman as his despotic and womanizing father, a self-made man, who came from a small village to found a real-estate empire. As he deals with routine matters of business and pressing family problems, Junzo recalls the events and his own responses that have led him to feel that ``What was clear was that someone had to act as a core around whom everyone could gather. And it was also clear that in reality I neither wanted nor was able to be that core.'' His divorced sister, Kumiko, who had moved to France to get away from the family, has been accused of tax fraud; his nephew, for whom he is responsible, is deeply troubled; his longtime lover has told him that she wants to end the affair because he's ``not any good at making a woman happy''; and though his business prospers, its success means little to him. All it provides is a reason to move away from the abyss and into the spring day that's ``waiting for me to walk through.'' Frequently claustrophobic introspection--but relieved by fine writing and evocative details about corporate life that give a familiar theme a refreshing lift. A distinctive debut.