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July 17, 1994|CHARLES SOLOMON

RICOCHET RIVER by Robin Cody (Blue Heron Publishing: $11.95; 266 pp.). Cody's engaging first novel depicts a young man's coming of age in Calamus, a small Oregon town, during the early '60s. A star athlete and a good student, Wade Curren finds his comfortable world upset by the arrival of Jesse Howl, a mysterious Amerindian who seems to personify Coyote, the irrepressible, legendary shape-shifter. As their friendship deepens, Wade begins to discover restrictions he hadn't realized existed within the narrow confines of Calamus. Jesse brings Wayne into conflict not with overt prejudice, but the quest for illusory stability that can lead citizens of small towns to force people to remain in familiar roles.

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