an amazing novel. the narrator- Austin Fraser is cruel, vain, afraid, human. this novel depicts his story- the story of a man who was afraid of his own self. the story of the underpainter. the artist who flooded the underpaiting in his art with his own life, his melancholy, his passions, his all, then blurring it out. the plot takes erratic jumps all over a half century, yet most of the story takes place during the '20s and '30s. this book tells the story of Austin's life. it tells how many of the special, tender relationships in his life ended, either gradually, or abruptly. it tells of this man's struggles, his passions, his failures. it tells of how he ran away from happiness in the face of his own fear and vanity. the plot is filled to overflow with his life, and the lives of those who came to know him, those who's lives intertwined with his own, or not at all. those who's lives Austin kept carefully stored away in his photographic memory. all throughout the book he tells of how well he remembers it all, how picturesquely it is all stored in this now old man's mind, so well he could paint it. relationships spanned over decades, people whom he's pushed away, people who died far away, yet right before his eyes. ghosts of the past, his own and others'. this is the story of Austin Fraser.