Lion at the Door

David Attoe, Author Little Brown and Company $17.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-316-05800-1
In the bleak and impoverished setting of England's industrial Midlands, first novelist Attoe fleshes out with vivid, visceral immediacy the painful deformation and extinction of the human spirit by trans-generational drunkenness, family violence and incest. There are shades of D. H. Lawrence in Hazel Sapper's 1940s' childhood as the daughter of a brutishly abusive miner father. She comforts and renews herself in the powerfully evoked surrounding countryside with Rosko, her bosom friend. Attoe has a wonderful ability to summon up and celebrate the natural world without lapsing into sentimentality. (In one memorable incident, Hazel falls in with a poacher named Pockets, who, to the little girl's dismay, roasts her a hedgehog in a ball of mud over an open fire.) To survive with his spirit intact, Rosko flees his own abusive home, disappearing into the woods and leaving Hazel desolate and numb. Related initially by Hazel as a child, the novel's viewpoint shifts to her emotionally stunted daughter in the late '70s, further illuminating the tragic dimensions of Hazel's suffering, and then to Rosko upon his belated return. All the characters' voices ring true and the narrative evinces the seemingly effortless command one expects of a seasoned writer rather than a promising neophyte. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
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