Miles is a Vietnam vet who's worried he's going to lose his job and his tenuous grasp on a stable life. His PTSD and struggles to control his steroid-fueled violent tendencies complicate life with his girlfriend, Shelby, a stripper who only occasionally seems to have the proverbial heart of gold. She certainly seems to possess more kindness and generosity than her brother, Wylie, who's on the run after being implicated in the deaths of two local oxycodone dealers. When Wylie kidnaps his sister and holes up in Miles's country lair, it is, frankly, threatening to become a bit too much for steroid-addled Miles to handle.
Bill draws wrenching parallels between battle and family-abuse trauma through evocative hallucinations, survival-of-the-fittest settings, and disarming compassion ... Bill’s descriptions are both ugly and beautiful.
The book is not so much gritty as relentlessly grim—at its bleakest it seems a kind of ruin porn focused not on bombed-out buildings but on bombed-out people—but it does move quickly, with plenty of surprises, and it provides the all-hell-broke-loose tumult one expects from Bill. Reading it is like mainlining testosterone and hopelessness... and whether or not that seems like a compliment to you will give a good sense of whether you’re the intended audience.