A verse novel, inspired, the writer tells us, by a translation of Pushkin's Eugen Onegin. Sonnets, hundreds of them, in tetrameter, devoted to the matching and mismatchings, hetero- and homo-, of a group of San Francisco yuppie friends: a lot of work to say very little. . .yet with an undeniably admirable talent for verse inventiveness. John, a Silicon Valley exec, meets Liz, a lawyer. John's best friend, Phil, a divorced father who has recently given up his job at John's defense-oriented company on moral grounds, finds himself in love with Liz's brother Ed; but Ed, Catholic and guilt-ridden, breaks it off. And when John and Liz part, Hz and Phil pair off. . .while John rediscovers old flame Jan. . .until tragedy strikes. . . The verse helps (it better). It dissolves as a formal insistence after a while, and Seth is able to keep things rolling quite nicely--just as long as you don't think too hard about the very stupid narrative. Now and then digressions side-track it--an anti-nuke demonstration that proves that political action is no better handled in rhyme than in prose, a long diatribe about the bad effects on sexual happiness of religion (""While privileged ecclesiarchs/ Grow fat on blat, cut queues and corners/ And like battalions of Jack Horners/ Extract plump plums from the joint pie"")--but not for long. Eventually the coy rhythms do annoy--but by that time the tour de force has been secured. Seth deserves all the applause he'll get for pyrotechnics of a sideshow variety; but with neither an epic sweep to justify a dithyramb nor more than the most mundane hack's talent for emotional complexity of character, the book seems destined to be only this season's curio, lodged somewhere between cleverness and silliness.