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Mr. Fuller's capriciously cranky short novel might be easier to admire than enjoy; he's a clever writer even if he may have outsmarted himself out of a readership. The scene is Oran -- as uncomfortable and unsightly as psoriasis -- and idling there on the fringe of morality/legality is one R.C., a ""lightweight capitalist"" in the tractor business of which there isn't very much. He has left the ordinary world -- a wife, children and suburban Westchester -- well behind him. As an unexplained act of mercy, he is sent one Zebina Grass, a black angel in an orange jumpsuit with ""snitchy"" fingers -- a free spirit with a notion to get into the hollow mountain Mers El Kebir (this too remains unexplained and unexplored). But Zebina is in and out of his bed where she contributes pleasure, then she abandons him until he is suddenly hospitalized with another vague but acute disturbance, and perhaps she'll be around again. Make of it what you will, but Oran, down at the heels of the Pieds Noirs and the European exodus some years ago, is the real presence. Fuller knows it intimately from cafe to brothel to dilapidated consulate and it swarms, smells, peels, chips and crumbles right before your eyes.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1975
Publisher: Harper & Row