A blistering novel of violence and deliverance set against the mythic backdrop of the Mississippi Delta.
The acres and acres of fertile soil, the two-hundred-year-old antebellum house, all gone. And so is the woman who gave it to Jack, the foster mother only days away from dying, her mind eroded by dementia, the family legacy she entrusted to Jack now owned by banks and strangers.
And Jack's mind has begun to fail, too. The decades of bare-knuckle fighting are now taking their toll, as concussion after concussion forces him to carry around a stash of illegal painkillers and a notebook of names that separates friend from foe. But in a single twisted night, Jack loses his chance to win it all back. Hijacked by a sleazy gambler out to settle a score, Jack is robbed of the money that will clear his debt with Big Momma Sweet -- the queen of Delta vice, whose deep backwoods playground offers sin to all those willing to pay -- and open a path that could lead him back home. Yet this sudden reversal of fortunes introduces an unlikely savior in the form of a sultry, tattooed carnival worker.
Guided by what she calls her "church of coincidence," Annette pushes Jack toward redemption, only to discover that the world of Big Momma Sweet is filled with savage danger. Damaged by regret, crippled by twenty-five years of fists and elbows, heartbroken by his own betrayals, Jack is forced to step into the fighting pit one last time, the stakes nothing less than life or death. With the raw power and poetry of a young Larry Brown and the mysticism of Cormac McCarthy, Michael Farris Smith cements his place as one of the finest writers in the American literary landscape.
The ferocious fourth novel by the author of Desperation Road confines itself to a few fraught days in the life of a cage fighter on his last legs. Forty-something Jack Boucher, raised by a foster mother in the Mississippi Delta, has reached a crisis point. Subsisting on pain pills washed down with Wild Turkey, he has lost large chunks of his memory, but he knows that his beloved foster mom is dying in a nursing home and that he is on the edge of being killed by loan shark Big Momma Sweet if he doesn't either hand over some cash or take on one last, potentially fatal fight. After a car crash on a back road, Jack's destiny becomes entwined with that of a troupe of outlaw carnies, among them the thoughtful, tattooed Annette, who can't "decide if she was putting together pieces to some fateful puzzle or if she had simply fallen into this man's mess because of her own need." Vivid descriptions never slow the pace of the plot, which moves swiftly toward an inevitable but still surprising climax. As violent as it is poetic, Smith's novel draws the reader in from beginning to end.