Weaver (Striking Out, 1993) begins his novel in black and white, swiftly setting up a Dickensian network of coldness and cruelty around Billy, 13. An outsider at school, but a good ball player, Billy has no time for baseball, especially when his violent father goes to jail for vandalizing a used car lot. Billy is at the center of a series of conflicts: with the baseball team; with his father; with the law; with farmwork. Just when the story seems headed toward melodrama, Weaver gives us something completely different. Instead of unfolding tragically and rigidly, the plot starts meandering, almost systematically blurring the brutal first impressions, and gradually transforming dramatic conflict into logical contradiction. In the process, both readers and characters get a lot more comfortable. No one has to witness or dwell on Billy's suffering; he simply goes around giving everybody the finger. The desolate farm becomes familiar, people become friendly. Weaver totally unhinges the action from the emotional landscape in which it opened and then lyrically ties everything together: Billy and his mother start their own baseball team, build a field on the farm, and beat the Town Team. From convict to contradiction and from contradiction to understanding, the narrative pulls readers along, every event staged with precision.