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e BOOKS AND THE CULTURE DADDY’S GIR.L By Beverly Lowry. New York: Viking, 1981, $13.95. By Susan L. Clark “Names is all, ” announces Sue Shannon Stovall Muffaletta at the beginning of Daddy’s Girl. As a Stovall \(“and Stovalls rename everybody at least names and Beverly Lowry has with words. When Sue sings country-western songs in bars far removed from her inside-Loop 610 neighborhood in Houston, she’s June Day. As a nationally famous songwriter, she’s M. S. Sue, whose wonderfully funny/sad songs touch on father-daughter relationships housewife who turns to crime \(“The Ballad of Sylvia Brown”: “her daddy taught with three children whose “daddy up and widow with three children in Houston’s Post Oak Place \(a loose and hilarious merger of West University Place and Stovall Muffaletta, who takes on the job of Little League “Team Father” none of the fathers were interested and has an on-again, off-again affair with Sam Moore, team manager and owner of a little country-western watering hole too close to “Post-Oh” to let June Day be comfortable singing there. Sue is not the only one with multiple names and roles in Daddy’s Girl. Daddy himself goes by many “labels struck on” at various phase of his life: Jimmy, as a child in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, becomes Chunk in his brief stint as a Green Bay Packer \(“I mean, when Chunk hit you, you knew you was and then Big Sue’s birth and his career switch from piano player to sales representative. Lowry draws Big, like Sue and like Sue’s dead husband Muff, as larger than life: “No one can stand to deny Big a thing. And give Big his due: he brings a lot of life to \(he party . . . other kids wish they had such a grandfather. Imagine. A grandfather who always wins.” Big’s wife, Linda, left him she’s now living with a much younger man up in East Texas, where she’s into yoga and health foods and Big can’t forget that fact: “a name meant something. A wife wasn’t supposed to up and just leave.” And Linda herself, under a pseudonym MAY 7, 1982 cations with names like Skin, and her fans see her work as a “combination of Jung, Jong, Roth, Grimm, and Nin.” For Lowry and for her characters, names become chameleon shapes to present to the world, identities assumed and discarded, yet at the same time very visible signs of relationships between the finely realized individuals who crowd Daddy’s Girl. With few exceptions, the characters are all familially related, and Lowry charts disturbing as well as affirming similarities and differences across the generations. The narrative centers on a short period of time during which Big’s mother dies, and Sue’s daughter Caroline has her first period. The funeral in Arkansas, with the gathering of the clan that includes Sue’s brother Steve and family as well as all the Arkansas Stovalls, becomes, through Lowry’s considerable skill, a stereotype grabbed and shaken thoroughly so that the genuine truths-behind-the-clinches emerge. Mama Stovall, in state at Little Buford’s funeral parlor \(Mona Mullen’s rendition of Buford Senior’s passing on tions, and the funeral itself, plus the excessive number of aspirin tablets Big takes for his aches, push over the. edge. As he drives his LTD into the parking garage in the Pisces section of the Signs of the Zodiac apartment complex where he lives, he goes “atilt.” The doctors in the psychiatric ward at Methodist Hospital call his animated ramblings hallucinations, but Sue knows better. As Daddy’s Girl, as the apple that didn’t fall far from the tree, she sees what no one else can: “it’s a matter of language . . . it’s a matter of words.” Stovalls have always had a certain attitude toward language. They have spelled things backwards, “backwards spelling being one of the all-time always used family lingo and code words: “It’s not crazy,” I explained. “Shall we dance means let’s go. It’s his way of talking. Like a code. If I answer, ‘Jive and mambo,’ that means I’m ready too and we’d hit it.” The jive, the jokes, and the allusions run through Daddy’s Girl, much as the snatches of Sue’s songs, Big’s salesmanslogans, and Linda’s diary fragments interlace the novel’s anecdotes, reflections, and confrontations. It’s a wonderful novel, a book about names/words/relationships that pierces like a too-sad song and affirms like a belly-laugh. Lowry is a “singer of tales” in the best sense, as comfortable in her medium as Sue is in hers: “The trick in country singing is not to cut the treacle but extend it, to pick out the soft spots and keep pressing.” Shall we dance? The reviewer is an associate professor of German and Russian at Rice University. SOME SWEET DAY By Bryan Wooley By Don Graham Most Texas novels, especially if they are first novels, are reviewed sporadically, then allowed to sink from sight. Unless the novelist gets lucky and a movie is made of the book, as happened with Larry McMurtry’s Horseman, Pass By, which brought the novel into paperback under the movie title Hud, the book disappears. Eventually it winds up in the special collections of research libraries where a handful of readers may discover it in the years to come. Such, happily, is not the fate of Bryan Woolley’s fine first novel, Some Sweet Day, originally ublished by Random House in 1974 and now made available in a quality paperback format by Gnomon Press of Frankfort, Kentucky. The Feds deserve credit too; publication was aided by a supporting grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Some Sweet Day is indeed a book that merits a second life. Although it tackles one of the most hackneyed themes in American fiction, the emergence of a sensitive soul into the ambiguities and complexities of adult life, Wooley’s novel remains unsentimental, restrained, and concrete in its realization of the narrator’s quest for understanding. Told by a retrospective narrator, the narrative keeps a tight rein on point of view, and we see everything through the backward-glances of an adult trying to recreate the experiences of his six-yearold self. Set on a small farm somewhere west of Waco, during World War II, the novel traces the effects of the world outside upon the members of a family seemingly