A Good Baby

Leon Rooke, Author Knopf Publishing Group $19.95 (297p) ISBN 978-0-394-58541-3
Like the mountain storm that opens his latest novel, Rooke's language is a riotous, tumultuous force of nature. His hillbilly characters possess a similar intensity in this bawdy, serious novel that is part allegory, part morality play and completely riveting. The night of the storm, a young mountain girl delivers a baby daughter and disappears. Next morning, Raymond Toker finds the baby under a laurel bush and takes to the mountain roads to find her a home. While Turner carries out his quest, the child's father, Truman, with teeth as rotten as his soul, drives his battered, laden car along those same paths. Also inhabiting this dark, debris-strewn landscape are three old men who recall Macbeth's Weird Sisters; the retarded, clairvoyant sister of the baby's missing mother; a blind man who knows much more than he sees; and an attractive, solitary woman recently returned to the house where, as a child, she'd witnessed her father hang her older brother. With forceful, rhythmic dialogue that only rarely departs from true, Rooke ( Shakespeare's Dog ) follows Toker and Truman to their fitting ends, his heavy hand with grotesqueries and somewhat monotone plot line redeemed by the momentum of his prose. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
Paperback - 297 pages - 978-0-679-72939-6
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