cover image Gypsy Davey

Gypsy Davey

Chris Lynch. HarperCollins, $14 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-06-023586-4

Here is a book that's meticulously crafted, its prose evocative and lyrical-and almost excruciating to read. The eponymous protagonist and sometime narrator, an outsize boy considered simple, is the lone incorruptible character, an innocent adrift in a 20th-century Rake's Progress. Everyone else-from his drunken floozy of a mother and his drunken floozy of a sister (already a negligent mother at 17) to his shadowy father, Sneaky Pete-is, despite flashes of decency, irredeemably venal, selfish and manipulative. Lynch (Shadow Boxer) describes in unflinching detail a squalid, urban scene of mean-spirited ignorance, poverty, violence and offhand sex. Davey's heartrending closing vow, to ``find somebody who's gonna love me and we're gonna have some babies and I'm gonna love 'em like hell to pieces like nobody ever loved babies before,'' magnifies the bleakness of the surrounding darkness. Best suited to mature readers. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)