The Cooter Farm

Matthew F. Jones, Author Hyperion Books $19.95 (305p) ISBN 978-1-56282-991-9
Jones's blackly humorous first novel, set on the Cooter family's failing dairy farm in New York State, is firmly grounded in the gothic tradition. Wryly narrated by 10-year-old Ollie Cooter, it blends frequent hilarity, startling violence and a gripping plot. Ollie's uncles, coarse rednecks nicknamed Hooter and Looter, are keeping their senile father's farm afloat while Ollie's hypochondriac dad Scooter is a traveling peddler of top-notch bull semen. Their jaded 13-year-old sister Mary Jean, Ollie's aunt, is his constant companion; with her, Ollie confusedly notices the symptoms of sexual awakening. Fear and evil soon engulf the Cooter farm: Scooter's imagined maladies and refusal to defend himself against Hooter's relentless jibes alienate his wife; Hooter is incestuous, adulterous and homicidal; Mary Jean discovers ``The Power,'' a malevolent force that inhabits an abandoned house, and enlists Ollie's help in releasing it with instructions to kill Hooter. Mary Jean and Ollie's helplessness, Hooter's lack of remorse and the suffering wrought by The Power--perhaps ghost, perhaps defense mechanism--arouse childhood angst and terror in this alternately amusing and tragic coming-of-age tale. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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