arry Silver had everything that a man could reasonably want a loving and beautiful wife, a precocious son and a high-profile job as the producer of a popular television talk show. His life was perfect in every way, right up until the instant he made one stupid mistake and slept with a woman from his office.

From that point on, Harry's life unravels at the speed of sound, or more accurately in the time it takes to leave an incriminating message on a cell-phone voicemail. Faced with his betrayal, Harry's wife flees to Japan to find her own happiness, leaving their young son behind with Harry until she can send for him.

Now that he is responsible for the daily care of his son, Harry does the next illogical thing and gets fired from his job. Can his life possibly get any worse? You bet.

What makes this story different is the way Harry deals with the aftermath of his mistake. Thoroughly disgusted with himself, Harry is never more endearing than when he concludes, what has truly messed up the lousy world are all the people who always want one more chance. He is ashamed to find himself in that group, but what he wants more than anything else in life is one more chance.

Instead of that, he is granted a lesson in the reality of fatherhood. How many women actually say, Wait until your father gets home now? he muses. Not many. Because these days some fathers never come home. And some fathers are home all the time. It is a 21st century verity that Harry goes through hell to learn.

Originally published in author Tony Parsons' native England, where it sold 600,000 copies (statistical evidence of its appeal), Man and Boy is being published in the U.

S. by Sourcebooks, a company noted for its best-selling multimedia products. This novel is its first venture into fiction.

Parsons doesn't dazzle with his writing style (it's practically invisible), but rather with the skill by which he makes a page-turner out of a simple father-son story. Before you know what has happened, you'll be rearranging your schedule so that you can spend another few minutes with Man and Boy.

James L. Dickerson is the author of numerous books, including the soon-to-be-published Colonel Tom Parker: The Curious Life of Elvis Presley's Eccentric Manager.

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