Best known for his celebrated mysteries featuring Hap Collins and Leonard Pine (The Two-Bear Mambo, Bad Chili), Lansdale wrote this shopworn coming-of-age tale in 1983 when he was still sunk in obscurity. His introduction explains that he set out to produce a YA novel like those by Gary Paulsen and Robert Cormier because, to his mind, their work was ""closer to literary novels than those written for adults."" Set in 1933 during the early Depression, with whispers of Mark Twain and an echo of Faulkner's The Bear, this yarn recounts the bravado of 15-year-old East Texas farm boy Richard Dale, who battles with ""old Satan,"" a wild boar of mythic proportions. After his father goes off to earn money as a carnival wrestler, Richard must protect his pregnant mother and younger brother. When the monstrous boar kills the family's dogs and bursts through the farmhouse door, his mother goes into early labor, and the boy resolutely hitches up the wagon to take her and his younger brother to a doctor in the nearest town. Returning home undaunted to face the unearthly creature, Richard enlists the aid of his best friend, Abraham, an African American boy who dreams of returning to his African heritage as a great warrior. While Lansdale's sentimental attachment to his early work is understandable, it gives little indication of the gift for telling disturbing and outrageously funny tales that would later bring him acclaim. This ""deluxe'"" edition contains illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998 Release date: 12/01/1998 Genre: Fiction
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