Books: Emotional Arson

BLADE OF LIGHT by Don Carpenter. 181 pages. Harcourt, Brace & World. $4.50.

Dealing with an inarticulate character complicates a novelist's job. In his second book, Don Carpenter (Hard Rain Falling) takes on two such men and manages to turn them into believable antagonists. The first is Semple, a near-idiot high school boy. Words have little meaning for him; he misreads reality and then forgets it anyway. His attempts at speech are usually glottal grunts. His writing is chicken tracks. There is only one coherent current in his life: his destructive fascination with Harold Hunt, "the ringleader of the hard gang" at...

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