For a few pages, the author lets you think that he is presenting the story ollywood loves so well-- precocious son playing cupid for nice, bumbling daddy. At the crucial point of reader-departure; Mr. Hall focuses most sharply on his characters, keeps his audience and engages their sympathy. His novel ceases to be the story that everybody knows too well and becomes a close examination of the vicious cycle at work. Yates Paul is on the threshold of puberty. As one character says of im, ""The thing that makes the parent child relationship possible is the existence of the child mind"". Yates Paul hasn't got one-- but his father does. Father and uncle struggle over the attention of an emasculating mother with Yates Paul nervously acing the sidelines. His dialogue, his reported activities and his imagination reveal a fine mind-- not yet trapped by his circumstances. As these close in, in one corroding episode of petty nastiness after the other, the familiar tragedy is lightened by his mechanism of escape-- wild, fantastic efforts and nonsense. These become feebler as the pattern of his existence sets and his chance to get away at all fades with his increasing acceptance of the shoddy ways and major meannesses of his life with father"". The author is a new talent among novelists and one to watch-- here's room for growth, but he's starting way ahead.