Daniel Buckman, Author . Akashic $21 (193p) ISBN 978-1-888451-19-1

Buckman's bone-rattling ride through the mean streets of Chicago isn't for everyone—think Jim Harrison meets Tupac Shakur—but fans of smart, macho prose will find much to like in this debut novel. Jack Tyne is counting off his last days as a paratrooper in the army, one of a "motley of drawling Klansmen and tattooed skinheads and black gangbangers from the west side of all places and Mexicans raised in the border barrios where the sunrises looked like graffiti." Jack's a thoughtful man living a hard life, and when he travels home to Illinois to take revenge on his abusive stepfather, he finds himself reluctant to follow through. Visiting his uncle Walter to say good-bye to his hometown, he's told that the road ahead "runs in a big fucking circle. There's nothing but assholes on it." Still, Jack wanders up to Chicago, where he finds work moving furniture for wealthy clients. After surviving a brutal assault, Jack is taken in by Danny Morrison, an ex-cop and Vietnam vet who makes a natural father figure for Jack, whose own father was killed in Hue at the height of the war. But Morrison is powerfully wed to his own cycle of violence—he pulls out his snub-nosed revolver as often as other men shake hands—and Jack must decide how far down Morrison's haunted road he wants to travel. This book should carry an R-rating for violence, language and sexual situations, but unlike the average movie, it earns these elements by making them part of the bricks and mortar of Jack's life. Buckman's novel is filled with sour truths about the ways men use race and ethnicity to erect barriers, walling themselves off from those who might otherwise grant them solace. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/14/2001
Release date: 01/01/2001
Paperback - 187 pages - 978-1-888451-38-2
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