After a successful football career at LSU, John Girlie gives up his shot at the pros and returns home to Old Field and the peculiar characters who are his family and friends. Unlike his younger brother, Sam, who escapes home, John remains trapped in a near-incestuous relationship with their unstable mother. Only after he finds love does he eventually win his own freedom, but the price paid and his reactions to it leave the reader questioning his sincerity, strength, and maturity. This first novel unfortunately adds to the lore that the small-town South is primarily peopled by drunken, crooked politicians, foul-mouthed rednecks, and sexually frustrated neurotics. Not recommended. Judith A. Gifford, Salve Regina Coll. Lib., Newport, R.I.