'What's new, Chet?' Bill asked slyly. 'Whitey's still on top,' I replied. 'Hell, that ain't new.' 'I said still.' "" And so Chester Himes (Cotton Comes to Harlem) carries his bone-deep (or boneheaded?) rage into Paris. He fights against the image of the black as victim being given out by Richard Wright and other soul-brothers in France, and creates his own absurdist fiction about Harlem. If the French are dumb enough to think his baleful nonsense in emulation of Faulkner's Sanctuary is true, so much the better. Despite booming sales in French paperbacks, Himes remains screwed and destitute, living on a dole from his publisher who meanwhile builds a vast chateau on the popularity of Grave Digger and Coffin Ed's mother-raping stories. (The novels were written for $1000 fees, not royalties.) At last Himes, who refuses to learn French, is a local celebrity: ""I still felt as much a stranger in Paris as I did in every white country I had ever been in; I only felt at home in my detective stories."" Absurdity shows more fire than his first volume, The Quality of Hurt, which he admits he wrote in a burned out state. Some of his kiss my ass, America has its old rasp back.