'Philip found the book extremely difficult, but impossible to discard. He kept it in the bathroom, reading steadily in it. He knew the author, Mr. Lionel Britton, had overwritten but refrained from skipping as much as possible lest he miss one of the frequent flashes of towering'...
And there it tantalisingly ends. This is obviously a reference to Lionel Britton's Hunger and Love, and there is perhaps not a great deal more said about the novel or the fictional Philip's reaction to it, but I had to find a copy. The British Library doesn't have one, though, and COPAC failed to turn it up in any British university. Neither abebooks.co.uk nor Amazon had a copy, although I found a number for sale in the USA on abebooks.com. Helpfully, a few dealers on bookfinder.com told me that the novel concerns a Jewish American family's struggles in the 1930s. There was also an earlier Martin novel — The Landsmen — which was published in 1952; and I was surprised to discover that Southern Illinois University Press in Carbondale had re-published The Landsmen in 1977 in its 'Lost American Fiction' series.
But just who was Peter Martin, who, perhaps like his character Philip, was influenced by Lionel Britton? Unfortunately I don't know, because there doesn't appear to be a great deal of information out there. The Library of Congress lists The Landsmen and The Building (both editions), and gives his date of birth as 1907. There is also an interesting paragraph posted anonymously as a review of The Building, a copy of which is for sale via Amazon. The poster — 'A Customer' — claims that The Landsmen describes a 'small village in pre-revolutionary Russia [that] springs to life', and also notes that this was intended as the first novel of a trilogy: but Martin died in 1961, a year after the publication of the second novel.
I can find no further information on Peter Martin (1907—61), but would welcome any that anyone has. (The main problem, of course, is that the name is very common and can easily be confused with others.)