Picks and Pans Review: Groundrush

updated 08/09/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/09/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Greg Barron

The setting for this triumphant first novel is a football-mad town in Montana. Enter Beowulf Bailey, defensive back, despairing lover and orphan. In the 24 hours that lead up to what may be the last game of his career, Beowulf's troubled past and none-too-promising future unfold in a structural tour de force. His father died in a skydiving accident (hence the groundrush of the title), his grandfather by drinking rattler venom. His girlfriend is pregnant, and football no longer sustains him. Though love and sport do not conquer all in this tough, funny book, both play a memorable part in one boy's growing up. Barron, 29, held a string of odd jobs, including tending bar, while waiting to publish his first book. (Random House, $13.50)

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