Haunting and strange is this tale of a former polio cripple cum philosophy professor, now a faith healer living on the banks of the Tennessee in platonic intimacy with a divorced lady painter, a black hippie and his offspring by Reba Altie, the town's Crazy Lady. She has split the group in actuality if not in spirit, for a Crazy Lady must lead many lives, and bearing children is just one of them. D'ronne talks about himself in the same depersonalized but solemn tones as one discusses a public monument or a theory of metaphysics -- curing the ill by an intensity of presence totally devoid of charm, or even interest, loved by various women for no explicable reason, with whom he will not sleep because sex goes with marriage, and marriage apparently is out. More than a coincidental resemblance to Jesus and John the Baptist. The prose of this occasionally brilliant, often boring first novel is composed of an odd combination of Schopenhauer, magnolia, and the less whimsical passages of Gertrude Stein, with a pace of static inevitability that creates a kind of Biblical significance for even rather ordinary events.