Handsome Charlie Resnick, age 50, runs away from home--away from suburban wife, Jewish mother, neurotic daughters, adoring mistress, executive position, and lascivious next-door-neighbor ladies. He just drives away one morning, heading south. First stop--Atlantic City, where he befriends a sad-eyed lady named June Thirtieth. She steals his wallet and his car. On the way to Jersey City, he platonically befriends a runaway teenager. She fingers him as a would-be molester. On the way to Pittsburgh to consult an old friend, he teams up with Billie Heeny, a porno cashier. On the way to California to consult another old friend (who's now a porno star), he becomes a farmer for a while before plunging into the decadent Hollywood scene. Charlie narrates all this in a sometimes engaging, more often off-putting mosaic of jokes, routines, memories, self-pity, self-deprecation, ceaseless associations to old movies and pop songs, and quotes from Emerson, Thoreau, et al.--with interludes of TV-news parodies and fantasy sequences. This is the kind of book where if Resnick asks a damsel in distress, ""Are you still in distress?"" she'll answer: ""No. . . I'm in dis blouse and dese slacks."" Middle-aged identity crisis, Jewish style, is a tired commodity; playing it strictly for laughs here only goes a small way towards disguising the shallow, familiar material.