Strangers who do not know Louisiana seem to suppose that it exists in tension between the poles of New Orleans' Bourbon Street and miasmal reptile-infested swamps. Somewhere along that stress-line lie the home of jazz, Creole and Cajun cooking, and a brand of Gonzo politics initiated by Huey Long in the 1920s, surviving in tumultuous continuity up to the present.
William Mills' first novel evokes Louisiana as a spiritual frontier between agrarian past, petroleum present and technological future; between duty-burdened redneck Protestant North Louisiana and easy-going Latin Catholic South; between the dauntless swagger of rural Texas and the softer unrelieved defiance of rural Mississippi.
Country Louisiana, between Caddo Parish in the northwest and Tangapahoa Parish in the southeast is all that and more. Mills knows the feel and the smell and the sound of them all and has managed to yoke them violently together in his first novel.
Farley Stokes, working nights in a Baton Rouge petrochemical plant and hating it, stands in the midst of those tensions. His present is meaningless; he has no future worth considering, and the recollection of his dead grandfather's vacant place out in the Parishes sets him to wondering (like a century's worth of displaced rural Southerners before him) if the ennui and emptiness of late-20th-Century industrialized city life isn't a bad dream that 50 miles on a blacktop road and 10 more on dirt will carry him away from.