A ""novel"" tape-recorded in Moghrebi, an Arabic dialect; the hard luck but never hopeless life and times of its author Driss Charhadi, called here Ahmed; translated by Paul Bowles. Its utter veracity is important to note; after that the virtues get scarce. True, there's nothing sweet in either style or sentiment. True, Ahmed as orphan, shepherd, baker's helper, random laborer, kif pusher, etc., runs the lower depths gamut, with a hard humor, a knockabout honor, really a saint of the underprivileged caught in that sad struggle of getting enough to eat. However, the monosyllabic neo-naturalism, the basic primitivism- which seems so to fascinate certain exhausted intellects- requires a lot of the reader's patience, even one who's lived in Morocco and knows the score, or some of it. In a phrase, it's often Johnny-one-note dull. Maybe life must imitate art to be any good; certainly the most successful sections are those which resemble well-known and/or hackneyed themes: The Wire, a neat-crime-and-circumstance tale, and the concluding chapters detailing Ahmed's adventures as a houseboy to a young Frenchman and the latter's misadventures with a succession of lovers- sort of unheterosexual Maugham, or more likely Maugham's Robin (his The Servant which Loesey filmed). When so much around is phony from the word stop, one hates to hit something which makes no attempt to be anything but documentary. But the tape-recorded book has other antecedents, and if we compare Ahmed's to Lewis' Sanchen/Pedro books, the Arab scene looks desert-pale against the lusty Mexican landscape.