Like a few of her once-celebrated contemporaries, Janowitz is proving to be a one-book phenomenon. After the hype-helped success of Slaves of New York came the thunderous bomb of A Cannibal in Manhattan. And now, this equally inept episodic tale of contemporary Manhattan--a belabored satire on modern romance, or the lack of it. The heroine of this dizzy saga is Pamela Trowel, a lonelyheart who lives in a grotesque basement apartment and works at a hunting magazine. She considers herself ``ponderous and dumpy and unpleasant,'' and the people she meets seem to agree with this assessment. But they're a bunch of weirdos also: Her boss, the social-climbing editor; the publisher, a sexually repressed married man who trembles a lot; Martin Feuery, a shrink who conducts office hours in a bar; and so on. Pamela's also being pursued by a fellow of strange nationality named Alby. But things take a turn for the stranger when Pamela informally adopts a boy who shows up at her door, an adolescent named Abdhul who's street-smart and lovable. Meanwhile, Pamela's divorced parents hover on the periphery, her mother a professor of Psychic Phenomena, her father a profligate sperm-donor. Pamela's increasing paranoia leads her to Maine with Abdhul. When she returns to the city, she comes back in drag and discovers that life is so much better for men. Along the way, there are all sorts of subplots involving a disembodied head, a Palestinian terrorist bomb, and a millionairess who makes love with a bag on her head. Janowitz strains to remind us that ``Abnormality was the norm'' and ``There was no objective reality.'' Stylistic and grammatical lapses aside, Janowitz commits the greatest sin for a comic novelist--she's just not funny.