A disappointing second novel, apparently autobiographical, from the Paris-based author of The Seven Days of Creation and ex-editor of Kontinent magazine. Vlad Samsonov grows up shuttling between his abandoned mother's Moscow apartment and his grandfather's country place. Vagabondage, in turn, makes a deep imprint on his soul. A summer in Pioneer camp, and he's had it with regimentation and organized fetters: young Vlad makes his way into Mother Russia in search of adventure. He supports himself as a runner for smugglers, as a pickpocket, a thief. Jail enters the picture in time, as well as a spell in a mental institution, a hitch with a mining expedition in Siberia. Maximov recounts these wanderings in an often embarrassing, declamatory style: ""What shaped you? Was it the wind? A swirling agglomeration of dust in a random light-beam amidst the darkness? Or the fading ancestors, thrusting through time and made incarnate in you. . . ?"" Not all Russian expatriate fiction is worth translating, and this self-indulgent ramble is more from hunger than nowhere.