THE BEHOLDING RUNNER by Owain Hughes

THE BEHOLDING RUNNER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

First novel by the son of Richard Hughes, this tells the story of an alienated young man in the world of North Africa, Arabs, khief and hashish. So much of the plotless story takes place hitchhiking on the desert, that it is a kind of Moroccan or camel-ized On the Road. It will appeal mainly to potheads, sun enthusiasts and addicts of desert description prose. ""Juan,"" the English hero's adopted name, is first met in trouble in Tangier. A famous drug peddler whom he has inadvertently crossed up has him kidnapped. Juan escapes and, with his passport and tiny independent income, strikes out with the mad idea of hiking to Cape Town in his brand new burnoose. Juan, like the disaffected non-heroes of Nausee and The Outsider, refuses to engage in any activity that will interfere with his being a totally nonactive nonbeing. He describes himself as a leech, one who absorbs experiences but will perform nothing. On his own on the desert, he finds himself alone without food for days, sitting and waiting for a camel or a lorry to come, meanwhile dying. He drifts thousands of miles about North Africa, meeting exotic types in small villages, doing nothing, observing traditions, accepting free hospitality. Eventually, he winds up in Cairo with a girl and motorcycle on his hands, as well as a new sense of resolve. When these are swept from him by karma, he relapses again into fatalism.... Promising, but any comparison with dad would be odious.

Publisher: Morrow