ANGEL CHILD by Mark Steadman


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Steadman (McAfee County, A Lion's Share) comes up with a humdrum parade of the usual Southern grotesques in this self-conscious tale of an ugly man with a beautiful son. Leading the list of down-home, just-plain-folk is Langston James McHenry, born in 1922 to poor parents in the town of Whippet, Georgia. Langston is ugly. He's monkey-faced, with a lopsided head, a walleye, a crippled left side, etc. After trying to make a living throwing himself in front of cars for the insurance money, he settles down to be. coming the area's chief newspaper distributor. He marries Cowie Retch Vanessy, nearly as ugly as he is, and their first child, Halstead, keeps the family tradition alive. But when little Gabriel arrives, in 1960, Langston is shocked: the infant is positively, glowingly beautiful. Langston isn't even appeased when he learns Gabe is retarded; he's obsessed by the boy's external beauty, and finds the disparity between him and his parents unacceptable. After trying to sort through his feelings on a trip to Savannah with his black friend and helper, Polite Bodine, Langston returns, as puzzled as ever; in the end, shocked and saddened by Bodine's sudden death, Langston attempts to disfigure Gabriel, but stops himself just in time--with Cowie's help he'll work things out. Extremely thin, almost ennervating comedy.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Peachtree