The daring young man on the flying trapeze has grown older and, sad to say, crabbier. Like his last five books, this one is a collection of brief autobiographical squibs ranging from the Fred Finch Orphanage in Oakland, to Paris, to the 57th Street Automat in New York, Mexico City, and many a gambling den, hotel room, and bar stool in between. ""I never elected to be a fool, it just came to me""--ah, but Saroyan has believed these many years that he is God's fool, a man with a special pipeline to the ""mystery and meaninglessness"" of the universe. It's philosophical pablum, of course, but when ruminating on growing up Armenian in Fresno amid the Portuguese, Irish, and other ""mixed white trash"" he can still pull it off. Less pleasing by far is Saroyan snapping at the heels of Norman Mailer and the ""six or seven"" other writers who've beaten him in the genius sweepstakes. There's a rash of namedropping in these slight, very slight, vignettes: Louis B. Mayer (""everybody who was anybody loved his funeral""), H. L. Mencken, Jean Sibelius, Diego Rivera, Marilyn Monroe (they went to bed; she was ""sobbing like a small abandoned child""), Henry Miller, that ""bogus-boob"" Will Rogers, and scores of others who've brushed by Saroyan's proudly misspent life, leaving their mark on his rather exquisite sensibilities. Flotsam--though some of it still glitters.