Books: Young Misfit

TWELVE YEARS: AN AMERICAN BOYHOOD IN EAST GERMANY by Joel Agee

Farrar, Straus & Giroux

324 pages; $14.95

When Huck Finn, that free-floating escapee from society's foibles, lit out for the "territory ahead of the others" to avoid being "sivilized," he formalized an American tradition of adolescent rebellion. Now Joel Agee, son of Writer James Agee (A Death in the Family), steps in those boyish footprints in this finely written, moving memoir. From age eight to 20, Agee's life in East Germany reveals a young swashbuckler at odds with collectivism and Teutonic culture, and with his own aspirations. By turns poetic and picturesque, Agee...

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