is a 1975 novel by Jerzy Kosinski
. It follows the adventures of a man, identified only as Tarden in a single part of the book, in a manner that gives the reader the impression that that's not his real name. The book is written in a sort of stream of consiousness style, going from anecdote
without breaking stride; sometimes without even changing paragraphs.
The first-person main character goes through life on the outside of normal society, distancing himself of his own choice. He observes, and occasionally becomes a part of, the lives of others. Then, eventually, he does some little, simple thing which changes that person's life dramatically, forever. The book jumps around in time, from his childhood, to his nominal career in a government bureaucracy, to the later stage of his life living not quite on the run, but not quite within the law, either.
Our main character is not a nice person. He does not go around and do right. He's not evil either; he just seems to like to change people. And he does, over and over, until the brilliant ending, which I won't say anything more about.
In case you hadn't noticed, I like this book. It's quite gripping, and is written with an intensity that I have rarely seen.