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An ""auto-and biography"" charts the interdependence of Ned Bates, a midwestern college librarian, and Neal Brewster, a graduate student, Ned's guidance of Neal- his ""mutation"" his ""graft"", their travels with ""Mr. Sick"" and finally the reversal of their relationship. For when Ned first meets Neal and serves as his mentor, it is he who is responsible for Neal's defection from the bedside of a demanding, dying mother who, with her faithful friend and admirer Uncle David, quickly engage a psychiatrist to bring him back. follow, after Ned Neal on the road - west, and a year later they meet. In Paris, Ned having the news of Mrs. Brewster's death. In the potpourri of experiences which follow (Ned breaks with his girl; Neal marries another already claimed by death) little is resolved, and Ned and Neal's symbiotic attachment is renewed when they return together to live with Uncle David. There Neal becomes one of the trinity with Uncle David and his nurse to share the macabre rituals in an attic which keep the memory of Mrs. Brewster alive and all powerful, and Ned, although only a spectator, is the ultimate casualty.... A perhaps talented first novel rangers from youthful high spirits to bitter mockery and pursues the present day picaresque (i.e. psychopathic). But in spite of the extensive dear reader indoctrination, which irritates as much as it illuminates, the interpretation leaves a considerable freedom of choice. The uninitiated will certainly feel insecure.

Pub Date: Aug. 8th, 1962
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World