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Minot chronicles the family life of Gus and Rosie Vincent and their seven children, dubbed ``monkeys'' by their mother. Rosie, or ``Mum,'' is the most vibrant character, creating a secure home for her children as she tries to mask her husband's alcholism and counter his withdrawal from the family. Minot has a fine eye for detail and a talent for creating tension through half-revealed clues in dialogue. However, because the book is very short, involves many characters, and spans roughly 13 years, the development of other characters is not satisfying. The chapters are rather disparate, the first, in fact, having a different narrator than the others. The final chapter, ``Thorofare,'' was included in The Best American Short Stories of 1984 and is perhaps the strongest section, providing a moving ending to an otherwise uneven novel. Lucinda Ann Peck, Learning Design Associates, Gahanna, Ohio

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