Picks and Pans Review: Sweet William

updated 09/20/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/20/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by John Hawkes

In his latest novel, Hawkes writes from the point of view of a horse. As a young colt, William is forced to witness his colicky mother being put down with an insufficient dose of barbiturates and then to watch her die from the exertion of having to fight her way out of a premature grave. This very surreal kickoff plants within William the seeds of fury that inspire him to win at the racetrack but, when his handlers ignore him, to erupt in violence.

Hawkes, largely known as a postmodern novelist, has rewritten Anna Sewell's Black Beauty in a post-Freudian context. His narrative is populated with first-rate characters and, most of all, a difficult yet sentient horse that finally achieves the grace of age-old wisdom. (Simon & Schuster, $20)

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