cover image In Memory of Junior

In Memory of Junior

Clyde Edgerton. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $16.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-1-56512-010-5

Edgerton ( Killer Diller ) again expertly conducts a chorus of ornery individuals in this prime example of entertaining, down-home Southern fiction. With considerable panache and humor, he assumes the first-person voices of the busybodies, war vets, good old boys and sole misunderstood teen ``hippie'' of Summerlin, N.C. These forthright folks are concerned--more pragmatically than emotionally--with the impending demise of waning, elderly Glenn Bales and his second wife, Laura. Glenn and Laura each have children from previous marriages. If Glenn dies first, his two sons lose their right to the family property and Laura's daughter becomes the legal heir; if Laura is the first to go, vice versa. Naturally, Summerlin's know-it-all residents take sides in the morbid endurance contest and can't resist proffering biased, highly amusing remarks on family loyalty, compromise, morality and death. Some 20 major and minor characters have their say, yet through some miracle of narrative the tale remains consistently uncluttered. Skilled storyteller Edgerton performs an enviable balancing act that demonstrates mastery of dialogue, irony and characterization. Author tour. (Oct.)