Books: Babes in Nomads' Land

THE SPIDER'S HOUSE (406 pp.)—Paul Bowles—Random House ($3.95).

Novelist Paul Bowles likes to paralyze his characters in the opening pages and then devour them at leisure. The paralytic agents are 20th century emptiness and despair. The devouring usually takes place in North Africa, a nomads' land where U.S. Novelist Bowles has roved for more than two decades. Like his highly praised The Sheltering Sky and Let It Come Down, the latest Bowles novel is less about the clash of cultures than about the de cline of both West and East.

The hero of The Spider's...

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