The Outskirts

Stephen Stark, Author Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill $14.95 (247p) ISBN 978-0-912697-83-3
This intense, moving and well-controlled first novel follows a moody, insecure high school senior, Albie Santamoravia, through three traumatic and formative months. Albie's exceptional abilities as a runner attract the unwanted attention of a single-minded, ambitious coach, and their conflict over Albie's desire to remain noncompetitive goes out of control when the coach urges his track team into violent acts against the recalcitrant teenager. Albie's increasingly erratic behavior awakens the keen interest of an astute English teacher, but brings him into unpleasant confrontation with his weary but caring father. He ultimately withdraws to an isolated cabin in the woods built with the aid of Carl, a childhood friend, and Martin, a charismatic but sinister newcomer. Their sojourn in the confined quarters is not idyllic, as Albie had expected, but breeds hostility, paranoia and fear, and unleashes murderous impulses barely held in check by all three youths. Despite its glib portrayal of unrelievedly loathsome school athletes and their odious coach, this coming-of-age-novel maintains a pungent, heady atmosphere, a firm sense of place, and gives a finely tuned portrait of an ambivalent and sensitive young man bracing himself for adulthood. (October)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1988
Release date: 10/01/1988
Genre: Fiction
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