A story of a little man on his painful and tortuous way up the ladder -- of adolescence and its revelations -- of small business, always on the ragged edge -- of knee-high aspirations, awkwardly achieved. It is that of Marvin Lang, told with an authentic sense of the psychology of the Lange of this world. The content, form and tempo of the dialogue carries conviction. Karlg has a perfect ear for the need and mode that hears in crowded subways, on New York streets, in any milling throng of people. The period spans the years 105 to the present; Marvin's parents here acquired the distinction of owning a de Li shop in State Island, but live from hand to mouth, always bigger than income. Marvin was in and out of jobs, but with the war, his job as butcher, briefly achieved, put him into the commissary until his father's death brought him home, to run the business. A chance to sell out love life -- use it to be , whom he suspected of playing for a , with her father's ends in view, or , was slept with him and eyed him late pleasing to marry her? The story ends as -- years later -- young Carl, son of Selma and Marvin, is recalled from the service of the second war on the news of his father's death. A newcomer, Walter Karig, whose sincere and revealing realism has a certain universality that recommends it, only a lack of warmth, of humor, keeps it from reaching the status of greatness the publishers claim.