KABBALAH by David Scott Milton


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Milton (Paradise Road) makes a fumbling, often preposterous attempt here at the existential-chase novel--a genre that's tricky even when tackled by writers of real talent (Robert Stone's Dog Soldiers, John Keeble's Yellowfish). His anti-hero is Buddy Hall, known since high-school days in Pittsburgh as ""Gray Eyes"" and taught since age twelve about the Kabbalah by boyhood friend Akiba Moldavan. Buddy, in fact, has come to believe that he embodies the tohu, the Kabbalistic evil and dark side--and so he cold-bloodedly shoots to death an old store-owner who was nice to him as a boy. Thus the chase begins, with Gray Eyes on the run, followed by John Strahan, an unhinged Pittsburgh homicide detective who has become obsessed with the case (""The pain in his stomach would never leave him, he could not rest, until he found Buddy Gray Eyes, found and killed him""). The route leads from New York to California--with junkie Buddy picking up a junkie girl and getting gunshot-wounded along the way. Also on the trail: pal Akiba (now a rabbi) and Buddy's loving girlfriend Julie. There's a ludicrous chase on cross-country skis and snowmobiles, a shoot-out in an amusement park, plus sprinklings of mystical sex (""he was moving into the center of her, swept along in a corrivation miraculous, ineffable, tender beyond imagining. And he felt, even in that moment, that he had caught some glint of God's excruciating beauty"") and pseudo-philosophizing. Some of the junkie ambience is boiled just to the right degree of hardness, and some of Strahan's low-life contacts are well done. Otherwise, however--dreadful.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1980
ISBN: 0595455123
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich