Darling

William Tester, Author Alfred A. Knopf $18 (177p) ISBN 978-0-394-56872-0
Tester's audacious first novel combines an expressionist style with a quasi- noir atmosphere in a startling story of sibling rivalry. The narrator, Bubba, is the younger of two brothers, both of whom have coupled with the eponymous Darling. The object of their love, and of their current acrimony is, however, a cow on the godforsaken family farm. As the novel opens, Bubba and elder brother Jeab,spok a Navy bomber pilot on leave, are quaffing beer and playing around with a loaded pistol. The narrative shifts back and forth through Bubba's childhood memories, amounting to a psychological tour of the young man's kinky past. Jeab has his own set of quirks, including pyromania, and the reader joins Bubba in wondering how he has sustained a naval career; Bubba chalks it up to a killer instinct and the desire to succeed. As the two drink their way through the early morning hours toward a cathartic dawn, the killer instinct comes upon Bubba too, and the gun becomes more of a factor in their twisted relationship. By then, the reader is ready for just about anything. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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