An erratic but at times genuinely explosive first novel about a troubled Kentucky family. When the narrator Dean (no...

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An erratic but at times genuinely explosive first novel about a troubled Kentucky family. When the narrator Dean (no surname) decides to return to his old Kentucky hometown from New Orleans, he thinks he's going to shock the family--after all, he's finally admitted that he's an alcoholic and gay. But the family has problems of their own: Dean's alcoholic mother, Jane, may have breast cancer, and his alcoholic fireman brother, Milo, has just split up with his third wife in extremely messy fashion. During the course of various intense familial confrontations, we learn that Dean and Milo's alcoholic father had committed suicide years before, scarring Milo for life--he's now dealing cocaine with members of a particularly vicious motorcycle gang. Dean, no slouch himself when it comes to being screwed up, has an affair with a juvenile deli-quent who is the ward of the local priest--an old family friend who confesses to Dean that he, too, is both alcoholic and homosexual. In a climax that's powerful and sappy at the same time, Milo double-crosses the bikers and dies horribly--although not without leaving a surprising legacy. Brown seems to owes far too much to the plays of Sam Shepard--too many near-fistfights in the kitchen, complete with food throwing--and he needn't have made everybody a gay drunk. Still, as an examination of the devastating effects of alcohol upon a family, and as an exploration of the unsuitability of going home again, this is a creditable first effort.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: New American Library

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988