Books: Joyriding

THE CAR THIEF

by THEODORE WEESNER

370 pages. Random House. $6.95.

Alex Housman steals cars. At 16, already in trouble because he has rifled high school gym lockers and lifted a wad of bills from the wallets there, he is off in a coppertone Buick Riviera —his 14th car—"joyriding" with a tense joylessness through his slushy Michigan factory town, watching for cops, indulging his quick-fade fantasies of ownership and manhood.

He is caught. With a cavalier imprudence he has given the camel's hair coat in the back seat to a girl he hardly knows, and...

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