Just looking for a wave, Mark starts hitchhiking north to sunshine (this is Australia) and, after a car wreck he causes and a near escape from a gang of bikers, finds his fate inextricably intertwined with a group of strangers. In particular, he's close to Lin, driver of the Volksy he bashed into, and through her partly responsible for hopelessly no-good sister Corrie and Corrie's baby, born with a deformed face as the result of her mum's experiments with pot (""one of those things that--that even too many headache pills could do""). ""You don't reckon on the likes of this, do you, when you're having fun?""--which means shacking up even more than puffing grass. Maybe it's the jarring mix of Aussie-isms and effulgent, literate imagery, but Mark's reformation from ""a brash, inexcusable young man, the commonest kind in Australia"" is hard to figure out, much less applaud. Mark is the sort who holds most of the human race in contempt and the author seems to approve his credo--""I just happen to detest all those buggers in the cause of progress that don't give a damn. . . ."" Not just a put down of hedonistic youth, but a sort of omnidirectional sneer.