Gone Away"" are the official starting words of the master of the hunt and fox hunts are part of the pastoral attraction of the New England home of the unidentified youngster-narrator (the author, to an appreciable extent). Gone away also reflects some of the defections taking place here and in the outside world to which his parents, particularly his obdurate father, remain conservatively immune. Thus, in insets, there's the loss of his grandmother (dying of cancer in a New York hospital) and of his older brother Doug, sent off to school where he's into drugs and then thrown out of both school and home, and finally the abdication of his mother who goes away for a long time before she comes back to find the Old Man shambling around the house and not much good for anything without her. Except at the end -- when he's ready to stand up to his son Doug with his vandalizing enclave of the family of man and then learn from his son, for the first time. . . . A word like nice is apt to stunt the growth of a first novel such as this but nice is what it is, unaffectedly.