This kind of cross-country odyssey is especially familiar from adult novels, but despite its conventional center, its tone and dialogue are strong. Ray Stillman is nearly 20 in 1964. At his Brooklyn high school he was kind of a cut-up (his elocution-class speech was Why I Want To Be an Undertaker) but he's reached a post graduation lull and needs some answers from the father who deserted him years before--the impetus for this trip to San Francisco. His companions include Mona Maria Axelrod, a.k.a. Max, who turns both hot and cold, and best friend Minsky, now a college man but still, good for four a.m. humor: ""Brooklyn girls are too bourgeois. They're always missing something, an innocence, an ethereal sensuality."" ""A front tooth."" ""A hind leg."" The three hitchhike, meeting up with every stereotype that's come down the pike and discovering from day one that trios are hard to balance--Pollock handles the tensions well. First Minsky goes off with some religious freaks, forcing an intimacy between Max and Ray that she can't endure; then she goes off with two old boyfriends who happen to appear opportunely. That leaves Ray to face his father alone, a scene that can't meet his expectations but doesn't defeat him altogether. Ray is a winning narrator, sharing fantasies of Elaine Scaduto and other chapters in his ""sexual history book,"" and his quest has more shape and finer cadences than Pollock's rock scene debut, Playing for Change (1977).