Picks and Pans Review: Suder

updated 08/22/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/22/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Percival L. Everett

Craig Suder, the black hero of this comic novel, is a third baseman for the Seattle Mariners, whose playing has hit a bad slump. His son won't speak to him. His wife doesn't understand why he's not interested in sex, and the team's manager finally sends him on vacation. Woven into this story about Suder's melancholy decline and fall are vivid scenes from his Southern childhood, when he was a witness to his mother's growing madness. Suder—no relation, obviously, to the real major leaguer Pete Suder, a white infielder in the '40s and '50s—concludes that his wife is unfaithful, and he leaves home to seek the company of an old ex-baseball player who lives on a boat. The two wind up in a dope deal that provides Suder with a bag full of cash and, eventually, an elephant, a small runaway girl whose mother beats her and a desire on Suder's part to put on a pair of wings and fly. There are wonderfully described characters in this book, and almost every scene is played for laughs. Underneath the broad humor, however, is a genuinely sad story about a young man whose life goes from a childhood of anxiety to one of heartbreaking, out-of-control disaster. This fine novel is the first book by Everett, 26, who lives on Cape Cod. (Viking, $13.50)

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