The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Boy’s Life is unlike Robert R. McCammon’s other novels and is a marked departure from his usual style, focused more on horror. The plot of Boy’s Life is more a series of incidents weaved into a tapestry of the variety of lifestyles in Zephyr, Alabama, and the Bruton section of town, where African Americans reside, during the mid-1960’s.

In part 1, “The Shades of Spring,” the story opens on a cold spring morning as Cory Mackenson accompanies his father on his milk delivery route. Father and son see a car plunge into a lake the locals say is bottomless. Cory’s father dives into the icy waters in a desperate but futile attempt to save the drowning man. Cory’s father comes face to face with the drowned man. The image haunts Cory’s father throughout the novel: a murdered man, naked and beaten, a tattoo on his body, his hands cuffed to the steering wheel, a copper wire knotted around his neck. Near the scene, Cory finds a green feather, a clue he thinks will figure prominently in solving the murder, but one he keeps a secret, hidden from the rest of the world in a cigar box.

About the same time, the African American members of an adjacent area of the community called Bruton engage in a ritual to feed Old Moses, a serpent who swims in the belly of the Tecumseh River, from the gargoyle bridge. The serpent apparently is not pleased with his food, because he does not smack on the bridge’s support with his tail as he usually does when fed by an ancient African American “conjure...

(The entire section is 628 words.)