Pryor Rendering: 8a Novel

Gary Reed, Author
Gary Reed, Author Dutton Books $20.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-525-94102-6
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"" `I'm gay now,' Rae finally blurted.... `Yea,' I nodded, `me too, I guess.' "" With this confession and self-revelation, Charlie Hope, the 18-year-old protagonist of Reed's bittersweet debut novel, experiences an emancipating epiphany. Born in the beer joint owned by his alcoholic grandfather, Chick, in the bleak town of Pryor, Okla., Charlie spends his boyhood accompanying Chick on a marathon bender through the bars and whorehouses of Tulsa. When Chick dies, 13-year-old Charlie is left to fend mostly for himself. Brought up in the confusing isolation of his pious, man-hating mother's home, the boy finds nothing to admire in the town's loutish male role models, most of whom work at Pryor Rendering, where the local slaughterhouse's discarded animal parts are melted down into lubricants and fertilizer. A friendship with Dewar, an opportunistic older inmate of the state-run correctional institution for incorrigible boys, initiates the acting-out of Charlie's disturbing secret sexual fantasies. After an alcoholic escapade at an Indian reservation, he is abandoned by Dewar to find his own way. This lyrical and hauntingly forthright novel avoids psychosocial analysis, offering instead poignant insights into the soul of a youth desperate for acceptance in a world filled with rejection. (Apr.)
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