THE ZINZIN ROAD by Fletcher Knebel


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This is Knebel's second solo, and first novel which is really not a political thriller: in a way it's a better if not so commercial a book--it's written in a calmer tone of voice but the piece of the action with which it deals, a Peace Corps stint in Africa, has some slow stretches like from Howard Johnson to Howard Johnson on the Thruway. If not thoughtful, the story seems knowledgeable enough and its young Corpsmen and women are pleasant company. Principally Lew Corleigh, a ""high class messenger and low class truck driver"" in Kalya where some seven of them are stationed. It's the end of the line, and it's been fouled up to begin with by the fact that Kalya has for years been enfeoffed to The Family, Old #1 and his love child (one Moses Harter) to whom they refer as Genghis Khan. All the USAID to the bush goes direct into the hands of big daddy, and even though the Peace Corps is supposed to devote itself to education, roads, and ""meaningful communication"" with the natives, it's very difficult. Particularly when they close down the school. Lew, violating a Peace Corps cardinal principle--namely political intervention--tries to do something about the situation which does involve some minor incidents: the mamba planted in his car; a fire; a shooting, an explosion. On the side, there's a momentary integrated romance and then Lew's real love for and marriage to Prudence who belies her name.... Knebel's Road is certainly paved with good intentions, and perhaps a little gold--it's a Literary Guild selection for November.

Publisher: Doubleday