Susan O'Hallrahan, a widowed dressmaker living in a small town outside of Galway, recognizes that her disturbed, deracinated son Diarmaid, 18, is an emotional casualty case. But she knows not exactly why. A quiet boy whose first (and, for all anyone knows, only) love was a boy at school who was bullied and scorned into suicide, Diarmaid ""threatened failure, something over-preponderant about his forehead. Something over-exact. She raised him quietly--little was said. His jumpers knitted politely against the textures of the fields. His eyes almond-colored."" Desperate to pierce her drifting son's shell of sad silence, Susan goes off to track him in England, to color in his white life; but she finds herself always arriving at places he's just decamped from and encountering instead the debris of his social life--the lovers male and female whom Diarmaid has disappointed. Hogan's cadenced, terse, pregnant way with this evanescent material is impressive, and Susan's own psychological fantasy of Diarmaid as the fate of love in the world is touching. But exhaustion settles in soon--too much languor, fog, emotional approximation--and wherever something rock-solid is needed as stabilizer, this talented but ineffectual novel only provides powder.