Big Blondes ($22.00; June 1997; 208 pp.; 1-56584-340-1): This noir-derived comic thriller (a close relation to such splendidly deranged predecessors as its author's Cherokee, 1987, and Lac, 1995) recounts a TV producer's elaborate pursuit of a fugitive pop singer, the glamorous and quite possibly dangerous Gloria Stella. It's a fast-paced chase across several continents, evidently inspired by the mercurial metafictions of Raymond Queneau (though the influence of Abbott and Costello also looms large), in which hired private eyes come to bad ends and the landscape is dotted with such surreal pleasures as a six-lane highway ``separated by a divider sown with comatose plants and bordered by tumescent guard rails.'' It's also, not at all incidentally, an arresting portrait of a much put-upon woman who has, simply, had enough. Adroit translator Polizzotti probably had as much fun rendering this blissful nonsense into English as Echenoz had writing it. Their enthusiasm is agreeably infectious.