A first novel which has promise (and patience) loosely noted in the margins although you wonder whether it will ever be justified: it is written out of no doubt young Chuck Kinder's West Virginia hills and whereas the local idiom is as live and quirky as it should be, he often implements it with more serious passages which are muddy indeed -- made even more so by the reversion from the immediate past (with which this is chiefly concerned) to a more primal one -- but all his speculations of say prehistoric forces are never as convincing as his own memories as a snot-nosed squirt. At first the novel seems as formless as any random retrieval of people and incidents but gradually its intention becomes clearer as he zeroes in more frequently on Cynthia, his sister, with cancer on her face; on his cousin Catherine, ""crazy as a loon"" and ""high as a kite;"" growing plants which only bloom unseen at night, going off to die in a sanitarium; on his great aunt Erica (with whom they live after his father's death) who spends 40 years collecting seventeen headstones for the dan; and finally his turtle, Snakehunter, who will be killed by a rotten mean cousin -- his turtle Snakehunter who teaches him that you can feel and hurt but never cry. By the close what has seemed so casually tacked together has achieved its design -- ""After all, dead things are my hobby. Confirmed dead things."" At its best, this patchy novel is a commemoration thereof.