To the strains of Leonard Cohen's ""Suzanne,"" the strong straight story of a high-school boy who's his own man. It's told in part by Dave himself, in part by the girl he has a feeling for, and it happens in Tylerton, the stockyards-suburb of Columbus (Ohio) that Kate wants to get away from. Kate is one of those intrinsically poetic people with no affectations, confused by her receptivity to stubborn, hermit-like Dave and fearful of the commitment a relationship with him would impose on her; so she sees steadily, safely a classmate who's wealthy and predictable. Dave, who has an enveloping preoccupation with birds echoing his father's, finds a real mentor in aviarist Mason Campbell (of Canary Red); even with the gentle prodding of a uniquely respectful mother he can't seem to reach beyond his chicken-coop ethology to Kate. Some usual confrontations are distinguished by an unusual masculine perspective on the happy wilderness of youth as Mr. McKay develops a now story free of dissonant scene-ic accoutrements. Under the commanding jacket, an honest book that admits of response on more than one level, refreshingly itself.