Life in Land of Living

Daniel Vilmure, Author Alfred A. Knopf $15.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-394-56142-4
Two nameless brothers, one a teenager and the other about five years younger, begin the night that this hard-hitting first novel describes by sneaking into a drive-in. Their father an abusive drunk, their mother gone with another man, the boys have only each other, and it's not enough. Their nighttime wanderings cut a steady trail to disaster, the older boy, illiterate, drunk and seriously sick, the younger following along partly in order to help, partly not to be left alone. From the drive-in where a murder interrupts the James Dean double feature, they meet their father in a bar, where the older boy saves him from being killed by the mother's lover, only to be knocked senseless for his efforts. After instigating destruction at a McDonald's where they hook up with a stuttering storytelling friend, they're off again, beaten-up, sleepless and faint from hunger. Violence accretessome done by the brothers to others, some done by others to them, some done by each to the otherculminating in two final acts of horror. Setting his novel in a deteriorating Florida town in the breathless hours before a heavy storm, Vilmure may have used a few broad strokes to tell of the brothers' dark and terrible passage, but his prose is as powerful and well-aimed as the punches that propel the tale to its riveting, inevitable end. (October 5)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1987
Release date: 10/01/1987
Hardcover - 978-0-07-067459-2
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