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CRITICS' CHOICE

May 15, 1988

RIDING THE IRON ROOSTER By Train Through China by Paul Theroux (G. P. Putnam's Sons: $21.95 ; 477 pp.) Not so much a travel book as an epic account of China itself, this sprawling, extraordinary book captures the wild swings between control and chaos found in China today.--Jim Mann

A BOY'S PRETENSIONS by Anthony Giardina (Simon & Schuster: $17.95; 335 pp.) Unable to eat or sleep for fear of missing Cynthia's call, Nick literally lives on love for days in scenes that strike a delicate balance between anguish and hilarity.--Elaine Kendall

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