Books: Enclaves in Country

by Bobbie Ann Mason Harper & Row; 247 pages; $15.95

It is the summer of 1984, and Samantha Hughes, fresh out of high school in her small, western Kentucky hometown, begins facing some grownup problems. She lives with her uncle Emmett, a Viet Nam veteran who is displaying symptoms (bad skin, splitting headaches, gas pains) that Sam thinks may have been caused by exposure to the chemical defoliant Agent Orange during the war. Other worries include her boyfriend Lonnie, a local yokel who is obviously going nowhere, and her girlfriend Dawn, who discovers she is pregnant. Sam's crush on another Viet Nam vet, who reminds her a bit of Bruce Springsteen,...

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