A first novel catches some of the bad, mad, sad moments in the young life of Raymond Euripides Trevitt and in so doing provides an uninhibited, disconcerting and generally entertaining book. Ray, the only child of a Greek scholar and professor and a committee-minded woman, grows up pretty much alone and on his own except for the really close friendship with Zock from the time when they first run away together. No student, while Zock goes on to Harvard, Ray manages to learn a lot about women, flunks out of college, begins to drink too much, and is behind the wheel in the accident in which Zock is killed. He enlists in the army and goes home with a medical discharge after a heroic gesture; marries- as something of a challenge- Terry Clerk and endures living by the Reader & Digest he goes back to college- to prove that he can; and at 21, still scarred by the loss of Zock, still unable ""to find the handle"" leaves Terry- leaves college- to start again.... The publishers make the parallel with Salinger's Catcher in the Rye that may be the audience to try out and for--but Goldman has created a character and followed him down on an offbeat which is decidedly his own. It's sophisticated, obstreperous and original.