An abandoned boy with fish-like features stows away on a trawler manned by a deranged crew of outcasts and oddities. June
In Richard's collection of short stories, we are in familiar but updated Faulkner/Caldwell territory, the gothic American South. Specifically, we are in the country of that endangered species, the redneck. In sharply detailed stories presented without excuse or judgment, and often with a sharp bite of humor, Richard offers creditable characters in the middle of their singular lives. In the complex title story, Powell has come to ask Bill Doodlum for his daughter's hand, ``second-hand as it was, a little legal holdover from the mixed-up-divorce-from-Tommy-John.'' As the two men sit in the garage drinking beer, the reader learns about the Doodlums of Doodlum County and the Carters of Carter County, and also learns why, when Bill's wife shoots him, his death is recorded as a suicide. Though full of peculiarly Southern connections, these stories transcend Southern particularity. They are about universals: love and loss and birth and death. --Marcia Tager, Tenafly, N.J.