Again an Avery Hopwood Award introduces an outstanding first novel. The author reveals a deadly precision in ear and eye, a graphic, incisive sense of people in transit. The book draws its power -- and it has a definite, insidious power -- from the characters; whether you like them or not, they are fully and sharply drawn. The setting is a small Michigan town; the Veech family, casual easy living and easy loving, recall the family in February Hill (though the book lacks the light hearted ribaldry of that one). It is the story of slovenly, good-natured Ma, of jobless Pa; of Eddie shrewd and snide; of Carl, introverted, awkward and ashamed; of the twins. But chiefly, it is the story of Mary and Kenny, -- Mary, a Magdalene, beautiful, inaccessible, serene, who makes a living off of men, but who loves only Kenny; and of Kenny, handsome and worthless and headed for trouble and of the ineradicable, hopeless love that defeated them both. A strange and compelling book, always convincing, though often perverse. It's not everyone's meat, but those who will like it will like it enormously.