A lazy valedictory to Harold Stevens's 13th summer in backwoods Texas, by the author of Candy and The Magic Christian. Together with his family's black hired hand, C. K. Crow, Harold shoots birds and angles for a legendary catfish; he buys his first bullcalf and finds a cow enjoying her first snort of red-dirt marijuana (a double-barreled discovery for him and C. K., who have plans of their own for the locoweed); he recalls his first treehouse, his first taste of deer blood, and the winter that froze the chickens on their roosts; he hells around with his friend Big Lawrence, who likes to kill things and play chicken with freight trains; he looks up his cousin Caddy's dress--with her full cooperation, it turns out; and he and Big Lawrence visit a circus sideshow, carry off the Monkey Man, and take him out for a beer. Meanwhile, C. K.'s homicidal brother Big Nail escapes from a chain gang and makes a beeline for Harold's neighboring town, where a crapshoot between the brothers will erupt in a long-awaited violent climax that doesn't quite pull this rambling, attractive tale together. Despite echoes of Go Down, Moses and the Nick Adams stories, Southern is no Faulkner or Hemingway; Harold is never more than the sum of his adventures. But this coming-of-age valentine to the 50's Texas landscape has an understated, flat-spoken charm of its own.