Debut novelist Tester sings a thinly storied but encrustedly lyrical song here to the southern gothic: about two brothers, Jeab and Baby, and their shared past--in which what figured most largely was their mutual lust for their milk cow, Darling. Fraternal jealousies and late hatreds shade in the picture, but the call of their cow for these two boys is the main point of contention. By comparison, neither Mama's previous love nor the carnal love delivered to both by girl-cousin Kay ever quite cuts it. As if this wasn't all silly and slight enough, Tester worsens matters with his relentless style: a kind of Hopkinsesque sprung- rhythm prose: ``Everything is grabby-like and pinching at my eyes. Everything's too big and glared to see, each noisy thing cupped in our kitchen mean with sitting here and fuss--I want to throw shit through the windows, crawl up tucked in Mama's apronned lap and rock off back to sleep.'' A cartoon done up in ruffles. Inauspicious.