Vanessa Place University of Alabama Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS3616.L33L3 2008 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
La Medusa is a polyphonic novel of post-conceptual consciousness. At the heart of the whole floats Medusa, an androgynous central awareness that anchors the novel throughout. La Medusa is at once the city of Los Angeles, with its snaking freeways and serpentine shifts between reality and illusion, and a brain—a modern mind that is both expansive and penetrating in its obsessions and perceptions.
Vanessa Place’s characters—a trucker and his wife, a nine-year-old saxophonist, an ice cream vendor, a sex worker, and a corpse, among others—are borderless selves in a borderless city, a city impossible to contain. Her expert ventriloquism and explosive imagination anchor this epic narrative in language that is fierce and vibrant, a penetrating a cross-section of contemporary Los Angeles and a cross-section of the modern mind.
The Land of Green Plums
Herta Muller Northwestern University Press, 1998 Library of Congress PT2673.U29234H4713 1998 | Dewey Decimal 833.914
The Language of Birds
Norbert Scheuer Haus Publishing, 2018 Library of Congress PT2680.E84S6713 2018 | Dewey Decimal 833.914
It is 2003, and Paul Arimond is serving as a paramedic in Afghanistan. The twenty-four-year-old has no illusions of becoming a hero. Rather, he has chosen the army to escape the tragedies of his past and his own feelings of guilt. As a result, he finds himself in the same land, now war-torn, where an ancestor of his, Ambrosius Arimond, a late eighteenth-century traveler and ornithologist, once explored and developed the theory of a universal language of birds.
As visceral horrors and everyday banalities of the war threaten to engulf Paul, he, like his great-great-grandfather, finds his very own refuge in Afghanistan’s natural world. In a diary filled with exquisite drawings of birds and ruminations on the life he left behind, Paul describes his experiences living with two comrades who are fighting their own demons and his befriending of an Afghan man, Nassim, as well as his dreams of escaping the restrictive base camp and visiting the shores of a lake visible from the lookout tower. But when he finally reaches the lake one night, he finds himself in the midst of a chain of events that, with his increasingly fragile state of mind, has dramatic—and ultimately heartbreaking—consequences.
A meditative novel that shows a new side to the conflict in Afghanistan, The Language of Birds takes a moving look at the all-too-human costs of war and questions what it truly means to fight for freedom.
“RuvenPreukstands apart from the village, on an August day in 1911, and listens.” Thus begins an epic bildungsroman about the life of Ruven Preuk, son of the wainwright, child of a sleepy village in Germany’s north, where life is both simple and harsh.
Ruven, though, is neither. He has the ability to see sounds, leading him to discover an uncanny gift for the violin. When he meets a talented teacher in the Jewish quarter, Ruven falls under the spell of a prodigious future. But as the twentieth century looms, Ruven’s pursuit of his craft takes a turn. In The Last Country, Svenja Leiber spins a tale that moves from the mansions of a disappearing aristocracy to a communist rebellion, from a joyous village wedding to a Nazi official’s threats, from the First World War to the Second. As the world Ruven knows disappears, the gifted musician must grapple with an important question: to what end has he devoted himself to his art?
The year is 1938. The great Russian poet and essayist Osip Mandelstam is forty-seven years old and is dying in a transit camp near Vladivostok after having been arrested by Stalin’s government during the repression of the 1930s and sent into exile with his wife. Stalin, “the Kremlin mountaineer, murderer, and peasant-slayer,” is undoubtedly responsible for his fatal decline. From the depths of his prison cell, lost in a world full of ghosts, Mandelstam sees scenes from his life pass before him: constant hunger, living hand to mouth, relying on the assistance of sympathetic friends, shunned by others, four decades of creation and struggle, alongside his beloved wife Nadezhda, and his contemporaries Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva, Boris Pasternak, and many others.
With her sensitive prose and innate sense of drama, French-Lebanese writer Vénus Khoury-Ghata brings Mandelstam back to life and allows him to have the last word—proving that literature is one of the surest means to fight against barbarism.
Originally published in November 1939, two months after World War II officially began, James Thurber's parable in pictures-- a graphic novel ahead of its day--about eternal cycles of war, peace, love, and the resilience of one little flower remains as relevant today as it was then. The New York Times called it "at once one of the most serious and one of the most hilarious contributions on war."
Civilization has collapsed after World War XII, dogs have deserted their masters, all the groves and gardens have been destroyed, and love has vanished from the earth. Then one day, "a young girl who had never seen a flower chanced to come upon the last one in the world." Written among the sorrow and chaos of war, dedicated to this only child " in the wistful hope that her world will be better than mine." The new printing will feature new scans of Thurber's original 1939 drawings.
The Last Hurrah: A Novel
Edwin O'Connor University of Chicago Press, 2016 Library of Congress PS3565.C55L37 2016 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
“We’re living in a sensitive age, Cuke, and I’m not altogether sure you’re fully attuned to it.” So says Irish-American politician Frank Skeffington—a cynical, corrupt 1950s mayor, and also an old-school gentleman who looks after the constituents of his New England city and enjoys their unwavering loyalty in return. But in our age of dynasties, mercurial social sensitivities, and politicians making love to the camera, Skeffington might as well be talking to us.
Not quite a roman á clef of notorious Boston mayor James Michael Curley, The Last Hurrah tells the story of Skeffington’s final campaign as witnessed through the eyes of his nephew, who learns a great deal about politics as he follows his uncle to fundraisers, wakes, and into smoke-filled rooms, ultimately coming—almost against his will—to admire the man. Adapted into a 1958 film starring Spencer Tracy and directed by John Ford (and which Curley tried to keep from being made), Edwin O’Connor’s opus reveals politics as it really is, and big cities as they really were. An expansive, humorous novel offering deep insight into the Irish-American experience and the ever-changing nature of the political machine, The Last Hurrah reveals political truths still true today: what the cameras capture is just the smiling face of the sometimes sordid business of giving the people what they want.
This lyrical novel tells the story of a young man living in Egypt in the 1990s, a time of great turmoil. We see student riots at Cairo University, radical politics, and the first steps towards the making of a writer. But his story is not told in isolation: through his experiences and memories Yasser Abdellatif also unfolds the experiences of his Nubian family through the epochal changes the country underwent in the twentieth-century.
The symphonic four-part text presents us with narratives of Egyptian identity, a constant knitting and unravelling that moves us back and forth through time, as the reader slides and leaps across the shifting tectonic plates of Abdellatif’s vignettes, his immaculately limpid prose poetry bringing forth the same questions. Nobody quite belongs in Cairo, it seems, but at the same time none of them belongs anywhere else: a relative emigrates from his Nubian village to the Cairo of the 1930s, where Italian fascists chase him through the streets and into a Maltese exile, only for him to return and make his way back South to the homeland he left. Another relative falls into religious esotericism and later madness, spinning away from Cairo and back to the wasteland of a village relocated after it had been flooded by the Aswan Dam. Meanwhile, in the 1990s, students fight security forces and binge on pills amid the dysfunctional remnants of a centralized state whose gravitational pull uprooted their parents and offered the possibility of assimilation into a national identity.
Through the clear sky of Abdellatif’s novel his characters, the spaces they call home, their way-stations, and even the nation that contains them all are a murmuration of starlings, held together and apart forever.
Joseph Geha University of Michigan Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3557.E3544L43 2012 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Lebanese Blondetakes place in 1975-76 at the beginning of Lebanon's sectarian civil war. Set primarily in the Toledo, Ohio, "Little Syria" community, it is the story of two immigrant cousins: Aboodeh, a self-styled entrepreneur; and Samir, his young, reluctant accomplice. Together the two concoct a scheme to import Lebanese Blonde, a potent strain of hashish, into the United States, using the family's mortuary business as a cover. When Teyib, a newly arrived war refugee, stumbles onto their plans, his clumsy efforts to gain acceptance raise suspicion. Who is this mysterious "cousin," and what dangers does his presence pose? Aboodeh and Samir's problems grow still more serious when a shipment goes awry and their links to the war-ravaged homeland are severed. Soon it's not just Aboodeh and Samir's livelihoods and futures that are imperiled, but the stability of the entire family.
Stephen Graham Jones University of Alabama Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS3560.O5395L43 2008 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
After burning up the blacktop in New Mexico with The Fast Red Road and rewriting Indian history on the Great Plains with The Bird is Gone, Stephen Graham Jones now takes us to Montana. Set on a Blackfeet Indian reservation, the life of one Indian boy, Doby Saxon, is laid bare through the eyes of those who witness it: his near-death experience, his suicide attempts, his brief glimpse of victory, and the unnecessary death of one of his best friends.
But through Doby there emerges a connection to the past, to an Indian Agent who served the United States Government over a century before. This revelation leads to another and another until it becomes clear that the decisions of this single Indian Agent have impacted the lives of generations of Blackfeet Indians. And the life of Doby Saxon, a boy standing in the middle of the road at night, his hands balled into fists, the reservation wheeling all around him like the whole of Blackfeet history hurtling towards him.
Jones’s beautifully complex novel is a story of life, death, love, and the ties that bind us not only to what has been, but what will be: the power of one moment, the weight of one decision, the inevitability of one outcome, and the price of one life.
Summer 1918. The First World War is drawing to a close when Léon Le Gall, a French teenager from Cherbourg who has dropped out of school and left home, falls in love with Louise Janvier. Both are severely wounded by German artillery fire, are separated, and believe each other to be dead. Briefly reunited two decades later, the two lovers are torn apart again by Louise's refusal to destroy Léon's marriage and by the German invasion of France. In occupied Paris during the Second World War, where Léon struggles against the abhorrent tasks imposed upon him by the SS, and the wilds of Africa, where Louise confronts the hardships of her primitive environment, they battle the vicissitudes of history and the passage of time for the survival of their love.
Monique Wittig. Translated by David Le Vay University of Illinois Press, 2007 Library of Congress PQ2683.I8G813 2007 | Dewey Decimal 843.914
One of the most widely read feminist texts of the twentieth century, and Monique Wittig’s most popular novel, Les Guérillères imagines the attack on the language and bodies of men by a tribe of warrior women. Among the women’s most powerful weapons in their assault is laughter, but they also threaten literary and linguistic customs of the patriarchal order with bullets. In this breathtakingly rapid novel first published in 1969, Wittig animates a lesbian society that invites all women to join their fight, their circle, and their community. A path-breaking novel about creating and sustaining freedom, the book derives much of its energy from its vaunting of the female body as a resource for literary invention.
Ivan Chonkin is a simple, bumbling peasant who has been drafted into the Red Army. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, he is sent to an obscure village with one week's ration of canned meat and orders to guard a downed plane. Apparently forgotten by his unit, Chonkin resumes his life as a peasant and passes the war tending the village postmistress's garden. Just after the German invasion, the secret police discover this mysterious soldier lurking behind the front line. Their pursuit of Chonkin and his determined resistance lead to wild skirmishes and slapstick encounters.
Robinson Crusoe, an adventure tale that fascinated such thinkers as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, Virginia Woolf, and J. M. Coetzee, has been an international best-seller for three hundred years. An adventure tale involving cannibals, pirates, and shipwrecks, it embodies economic, social, political, and philosophical themes that continue to be relevant today. Moreover, the notion of isolation on a deserted island and a fascination with survival continue to be central to countless popular cinema and television programs. This edition of the novel with its introduction, line notes, and full bibliographical notes provides a uniquely scholarly presentation of the novel. There has been no other edition like it.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
The Life of Arseniev: Youth
Ivan Bunin Northwestern University Press, 1994 Library of Congress PG3453.B9Z213 1994 | Dewey Decimal 891.733
Ivan Bunin was the first Russian writer of the twentieth century to be award the Nobel Prize in literature. Like many other Russian writers, he emigrated after the Revolution and never returned to his homeland; The Life of Arseniev is the major work of his émigré period.
In ways similar to Nabokov's Speak, Memory, Bunin's novel powerfully evokes the atmosphere of Russia in the decades before the Revolution and illuminates those Russian literary and cultural traditions eradicated in the Soviet era. This first full English-language edition updates earlier translations, taking as its source the version Bunin revised in 1952, and including an introduction and annotations by Andrew Baruch Wachtel.
Life with a Star
Jiri Weil Northwestern University Press, 1998 Library of Congress PG5038.W4Z313 1998 | Dewey Decimal 891.86352
In Nazi-occupied Prague, ex-bank clerk Josef Roubick discovers that the prosaic world he has always inhabited is suddenly off-limits to him because he is a Jew. When he begins to observe his new, increasingly skewed, and macabre environment with resigned detachment, his life becomes centered on survival and on the surprisingly small things he clings to in order to persevere.
Like Light, Like Music
Lana K. W. Austin West Virginia University Press, 2020 Library of Congress PS3601.U8628L55 2020 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Emme McLean never imagined that in 1999 she would be living out the lyrics of the ancient murder ballads she grew up singing. But now Emme is back in Red River, Kentucky, using her skills as a journalist to prove her cousin did not kill her husband and to find out what is terrifying the town after many of its women went half-mad on the same night.
But to help her hometown’s haunted women, Emme must also face the things that haunt her, things she thought she had lost when she chose to move away: the majestic music of her family’s beloved hills and hollows, the mysterious old ways of her Appalachian kin, and the memory of her remarkable first love, Evan. Through it all, she must reckon with her magical “mountain gift”—is it real, or merely a unique synesthesia? And can she trust it to help heal her family and her town, a place still plagued by the social injustice that first drove her away? Can she trust it to help heal herself?
Linda Perdido: A Novel
Mac Wellman University of Alabama Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS3573.E468L56 2013 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Linda Perdido, the story of the antisocial Linda Perdido told by her well-behaved sister Qua, is a memoir like no other.
Set in a vast and unknown region in the Midwest, Mac Wellman’s Linda Perdido chronicles the lives of two sisters: Linda and Qua Perdido. Linda is bad, acting out every antisocial impulse she has and then some; Qua is good but comes to hate her sister, though she chooses to write a memoir about her, thus Linda Perdido.
Their lives are complicated by many figures, among them the Traveler, a lonely man who follows the migration patterns of a strange bird, the Perdido Macaw; the Counter-Terrorist, who gets his facts wrong and cannot decipher the ominous chatter; a FedEx delivery man, Donn Morocco, who loses his mind after his truck is stolen by the rampaging Linda. These and others meet and complicate each other’s lives, often ruinously, culminating at what will become Ground Zero on the day before the attacks.
List: A Novel
Matthew Roberson University of Alabama Press, 2014 Library of Congress PS3618.O3167L57 2013 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Vignettes of a middle-class American family told through lists, each reflecting their obsessions, their complaints, their desires, and their humanity.
A suburban family of four—a man, woman, boy, and girl—struggle through claustrophobic days crowded with home improvement projects, conflicts at work and school, a job loss, illnesses, separation, and the wearying confrontation with aging. The accoutrements of modern life—electronic devices and vehicles—have ceased to be tools that support them and have become instead the central fulcrums around which their lives wheel as they chase “cleanliness” and other high virtues of middle American life.
In Matthew Roberson’s hands, the family’s list-making transcends the simple goal of planning. Their lists reveal the aspirations and anxieties that lie beneath the superficial clatter of everyday activities. Fearing the aimless chaos of unplanned days, the family compulsively compiles lists as maps to steer them away from uncertainty and failure, and yet at what point does a list stop being a map and become the final destination? The family creates an illusory cloud of meaningful activity but cannot stave off the mortal entropies that mark the suburban middle class.
Listen & Other Stories
Liam Callanan Four Way Books, 2015 Library of Congress PS3603.A445A6 2015 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Listen is a book where characters ask readers to do just that: listen to their stories, especially because many aren’t the type of people who often get listened to—even though they should. These characters’ trials, missed connections, and sundry challenges are full of surprises—some good, some bad, some funny, some wise, and some all this at once. Perhaps most surprising of all, there’s tenderness here and a lot of heart—which often gets the collection’s characters into a lot of trouble.
In a series of intriguing routes through the English countryside, Professor Robert Cooper notes those attractions that the casual tourist might unknowingly pass by, such as the house where Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities, or the windswept quay where John Fowles's French Lieutenant's woman walked. Maps and information about restaurants and accommodations give the traveler the opportunity of having pints of “half and half” where Jane Austen dined or visiting the pub where Blake’s scuffle led to his trial for treason.
This newly revised and updated edition of Robert Cooper's acclaimed handbook combines the utility of current travel information with the appeal of literary history, biography, and anecdote in a leisurely and flavorful guide to the broad sweep of southern England outside of London. A rich and reliable guide to the landscape that fostered one of our most cherished cultures, The Literary Guide and Companion to Southern England is an indispensable resource for those who wish to experience literature firsthand.
Abram Tertz Northwestern University Press, 1992 Library of Congress PG3476.S539K713 1992 | Dewey Decimal 891.7344
Little Jinx is a canny mockery of the Soviet world. Its author, Andrei Sinyavsky, a respectable member of the USSR's Institute for World Literature, was exposed in 1965 as the real author of a series of irreverent essays and fantastic tales that had been circulating under the nom de plume Abram Tertz. After five years in a labor camp he immigrated to Paris. Little Jinx is the tale of a man named Sinyavsky, a literary hack and runt who clumsily survives repression and anti-Semitism but also brings misery to those around him. When this "little jinx" inadvertently causes the death of his five brothers, he is consumed by a guilt that seems universal in his society.
Little Lost River: A Novel
Pamela Johnston University of Nevada Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS3610.O389L58 2008 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Set in Boise, Idaho in the early 1980s, Little Lost River is the story of two young women who come together in the wake of tragedy. Cindy Morgan is still reeling from the loss of her mother when an accident leaves her boyfriend missing and presumed drowned. When Frances Rogers happens upon the accident site, she stays with Cindy until help arrives. In the aftermath of that night’s events, as Cindy faces her future with a determination often misunderstood as indifference, Frances becomes her source of both support and compassion. Cindy and Frances are determined to find their own lives unencumbered by conventional expectations, but their path to adulthood is neither easy nor clear, and the future that each girl finds is not what she expected or planned. One generation follows another, and in the end, the girls learn that life moves on its own path, that “transformation is what takes you forward. It’s the only constant thing.”
Little Red Riding Hood in the Red Light District is Manlio Argueta's most popular novel in El Salvador, translated into English for the first time by Edward Waters Hood. A kaleidoscopic tale of political romance, the story revolves around the relationship of two young lovers in a time of social upheaval, evoking characters and themes from the classic fairy tale within the wartime environment of El Salvador and its capital, San Salvador.
Live and Remember
Valentin Rasputin Northwestern University Press, 1992 Library of Congress PG3485.5.A85Z313 1992 | Dewey Decimal 891.7344
First published in Russian in 1974, Live and Remember was immediately hailed by Soviet critics as a superb if atypical example of war literature and a moving depiction of the degradation and ultimate damnation of a frontline deserter. The novel tells the story of a Siberian peasant who makes a tragic miscalculation by deserting in the last year of the war, and of the loyal wife who embraces his fate as her own.
The novella and two short stories that make up this volume were written at three different periods in Makanin's life, yet they are united by their narrative and stylistic invention, their range of human emotion, and the profound humanity of their prose. Though banished and suppressed in the Brezhnev era, Makanin is now recognized as one of Russia's leading writers.
In his celebrated short story "The Prisoner of the Caucasus," two Russian soldiers take a Chechen prisoner during the war, and as events unfold, Makanin reveals the casual brutality of the war but also the secret truths of the character's lives. In the novella The Loss, Pekalov, a drunkard and dreamer obsessed with the idea of building a tunnel under the Ural River, disappears in a ditch while working and is made a saint by the people of his village. "Klyucharyov and Alimushkin" tells the story of what happens when one man becomes remarkably lucky while the other loses all his luck.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” begins one chapter of critically acclaimed Lee Siegel’s new novel, Love and the Incredibly Old Man. “In the beginning” starts another. What else can a novelist do when hired as a ghostwriter by an elderly, irascible, conquistador-costumed man claiming to be the 540-year-old Juan Ponce de León? The fantastic life of that legendary explorer—inventor of rum, cigars, Coca-Cola, and popcorn—is the frame for Siegel’s fourth chronicle of love, lies, luck, loss, and labia.
Summoned with cold hard cash and a pinch of flattery, a professor and novelist named Lee Siegel finds himself in Eagle Springs, Florida, attempting to give form to the life of the man who, contrary to popular and historical opinion, did indeed find the Fountain of Youth. Spending humid days listening to the romantic ramblings of the old man and sleepless nights doubting yet trying to craft these reminiscences into a narrative that will satisfy the literary aspirations of his subject, Siegel the ghostwriter spins an improbable tale filled with Native Americans, insatiable monarchs, philandering cantors, deliriously passionate nuns, delicate actresses, androgynous artists, and deceptions small and large. For de León, and for Siegel too, centuries of conquest and colonialism, fortune and identity, are all refracted through the memories of the conquistador’s lovers, each and every one of them adored “more than any other woman ever.”
Comic, melancholic, lusty, and fully engaged with the act of invention, whether in love or on the page, Love and the Incredibly Old Man continues the real Lee Siegel’s exuberant exploration of that sentiment which Ponce de León confesses has “transported me to the most joyous heights, plunged me to the most dismal depths, and dropped me willy-nilly and dumbfounded at all places in between.”
Lucchesi and The Whale
Frank Lentricchia Duke University Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS3562.E4937L83 2001 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Lucchesi and The Whale is an unusual work of fiction by noted author and critic Frank Lentricchia. Its central character, Thomas Lucchesi Jr., is a college professor in the American heartland whose obsessions and compulsions include traveling to visit friends in their last moments of life—because grief alone inspires him to write—and searching for secret meaning in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Himself a writer of “stories full of violence in a poetic style,” Lucchesi tells his students that he teaches “only because [his] fiction is commercially untouchable” and to “never forget that.” Austerely isolated, anxiety-ridden, and relentlessly self-involved, Lucchesi nonetheless cannot completely squelch his eagerness for love. Having become “a mad Ahab of reading,” who is driven to dissect the “artificial body of Melville’s behemothian book” to grasp its truth, Lucchesi allows his thoughts to wander and loop from theory to dream to reality to questionable memory. But his black humor-tinged musings are often as profoundly moving as they are intellectual, such as the section in which he ponders the life and philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein in relation to the significance of a name—and then attempts to share these thoughts with a sexy, middle-aged flight attendant—or another in which he describes a chance meeting with a similarly-named mafia don. Despite apparent spiritual emptiness, Lucchesi in the end does find “a secret meaning” to Moby-Dick. And Lentricchia’s creations—both Lucchesi and The Whale and its main character—reveal this meaning through a series of ingeniously self-reflective metaphors, in much the way that Melville himself did in and through Moby-Dick. Vivid, humorous, and of unparalleled originality, this new work from Frank Lentricchia will inspire and console all who love and ponder both great literature and those who would write it.
Aleksander Wat Northwestern University Press, 1990 Library of Congress PG7158.W28B413 1990 | Dewey Decimal 891.8537
In these nine stories the Polish writer Aleksander Wat consistently turns history on its ear in comic reversals reverberating with futurist rhythms and the gently mocking humor of despair. Wat inverts the conventions of religion, politics, and culture to fantastic effect, illuminating the anarchic conditions of existence in interwar Europe.
The title story finds a superbly ironic Lucifer wandering the Europe of the late 1920s in search of a mission: what impact can a devil have in a godless time? What is his sorcery in a society far more diablical than the devil himself? Too idealistic for a world full of modern cruelties, the unemployable Lucifer finally finds the only means of guaranteed immortality. In "The Eternally Wandering Jew," steady Jewish conversion to Christianity results in Nathan the Talmudist reigning as Pope Urban IX. The hilarious satire on power, "Kings in Exile," unfolds with the dethroned monarchs of Europe meeting to found their own republic in an uninhabited island in the Indian Ocean.
The Lucky: (A Novel)
H. Lee Barnes University of Nevada Press, 2003 Library of Congress PS3552.A673854L83 2003 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Unfolding from the bygone era of 1950s Las Vegas through the turbulent decades that followed, this epic novel examines the universal search for identity and reward in a world where the good life always seems out of reach. The streets of early Las Vegas are a tough place for a boy to grow up. Pete Elkins is fatherless, living in a cramped apartment with his mother, a party-girl with a penchant for falling in love with the wrong kind of man; and his older sister, who has grown up too fast from trying to parent both her brother and their reckless mother. Pete is headed for serious trouble when he is befriended by Willy Bobbins, a casino owner with a murky past and even murkier business practices. But Willy is also deeply compassionate and wise, and he soon becomes a surrogate father for the lonely Pete. Gradually, Pete becomes involved with Willy’s troubled family and comes to know both the scope of his mentor’s power and the depth of his vulnerabilities.