The story of Bendegúz, the teenage boy who never succeeds in anything and about whom everybody's first though is "I wish you had been hanged when you were born!" drops out of school and becomes a cowboy. He works for the Stationmaster whose cows he has to graze by the railway. Despite his goodwill and kindheartedness he always manages to spoil everything he touches. No matter his wit, he gets into humiliating situations and regularly fights with the Ugly Witch (the Stationmaster's mother-in-law). However his good spirit and cheerfulness never leave him.
Misery is brought to a small group of Sho in the Kalahari desert in the form of a cola bottle. In his quest to throw the evil object over the edge of the earth, Xixo encounters Western "civilization," a haphazard doctor and a tyranical despot.
When Jake LaMotta steps into a boxing ring and obliterates his opponent, he's a prizefighter. But when he treats his family and friends the same way, he's a ticking time bomb, ready to go off at any moment.