. . . All first novels are supposedly autobiographical: at first, you write about what you know, even if you are writing about what you imagine. And like most first novelists, I used to insist that my own first novel was not autobiographical. I truly believed this, and, like a tax cheat about to be audited by the IRS, I had a stable of rationalizations as likely as blue horses. But as I close on sixty, I see more than confess that this book is indeed very much autobiographical, if not consistently in fact, then always in spirit . . .