Opening - CORDE, WHO LED THE LIFE of an executive in America - wasn't a college dean a kind of executive? - found himself six or seven thousand miles from his base, in Bucharest, in winter, shut up in an old-fashioned apartment.I have been assiduously sipping some of this after meals as a strong stomach is needed. Bellow seems to have loaded up a whole magazine of punctuation into his sawn off iQuill and peppered the text. It is everywhere, and doing damage to the flow of the story. An interesting bit on page 225 about lead and the environment: - "This disaster also overtook the Roman Empire. It wasn't the Barbarians, it wasn't the Christians, it wasn't moral corruption: his theory is that the real cause was the use of lead to prevent the souring of wine. Lead was the true source of the madness of the Caesars. Leaded wine brought the Empire to ruin."- "Bones from Roman graves do show extreme concentrations of the metal, I've examined those in my own lab."Some parts are wonderful and pose clever ideas to make one ponder from another direction however, overall, this is a yawnfest.