Books: The Pink Spider

AFRICAN CALLIOPE: A JOURNEY TO THE SUDAN by Edward Hoagland Random House; 239 pages; $10

It would be a neglect of the obvious to write about America without mentioning Tocqueville, or Africa without a nod to Conrad. Those authors are not only fixed points to steer by but fetishes that protect a writer from foundering in swamps of detail. Edward Hoagland does not get around to his ritual reference until page 91 of African Calliope: A Journey to the Sudan: "Far from learning something new about the black-white torque that is such a misery in America, here I was freer of it....

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