He's an unnamed 45-year-old professor of English, an abashed but unrepentant philanderer ""throwing pearls before chicks,"" a would-be writer who'll one day sit down and write ""after he finishes taking notes on life."" She's wife Maureen, a red-haired Irish concert harpist who is ""a little proud of being the only wife in his harem."" But not proud enough to stay with him too long; we find him alone in a hotel room, drifting off into memories of his past mistresses and scenarios of reincarnation: a 17th-century English Puritan, a Roman high priest, a hermaphrodite. Molinaro (The Borrower, Sounds of a Drunken Summer) turns her fabulist devices too often, and they soon creak; you watch her hypnotizing herself into large flabby set-pieces under whose weight the book collapses early with a whoosh. Clever sour phrases get papered over by narrative trickery that has no intention of ever being remotely like a story. Sitting in his stew of speculations and memories, the central character--who could have been an interesting, truly regretful Donald Juan--adds up to nothing more than a shnook. Mannered beyond recall.