This is a sprightly runner-up to The Ginger Man in style, farcical, self-conscious and subjective. The loosely contrived story is episodic filled with silly situations that are often extremely clever. The gingery main character is Alexander Smart, a snide, sniping, waspish Britisher who feels that the world owes him a living. We follow this likeable lout through childhood, art school, prison, the army and the German Occupation. His main friend is a wicked cadge named Leery and he meets some famous people, including Jean-Paul Sartre. This last being in France during WWII, he enjoins the youthful Sartre to give up novel- and play-writing and pursue poetry. The situations include the castration and remodeling of a Greek statue at art school; being put in a cell with a mad, meat-cleaver wielding, religious fanatic; being completely surrounded by the German army (which is trying desperately to surrender); pursuit of a hausfrau; and postwar years as an unpublished writer. The author could have contrived a better ending, less personal and more abstract, but in any event he has run a fine race.