A timelessand timelywork: a gritty, wrenching novel from deep inside the traumas of the broken American male psyche
Miles is a Vietnam vet who's worried he's going to lose his job and his tenuous grasp on a stable life because of a fight he had with a coworker over some steroids. His PTSD and struggles to control his steroid-fueled violent tendencies complicate his 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 currently on the run after being implicated in the deaths of two local Oxy dealers and has their family on his tail. 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 keep together.
This is clearly Frank Bill territory. But in Back to the Dirt, he is going deeper and purer. As Bill peels back the layers of Miles's history, accompanying him into his Vietnam War memories, the novel gets to the root of the traumas that have caused Milesand his communityso much trouble. And this, truly, is the soul of the Frank Bill project: to speak of and for the forgotten struggles of the American heartland. He reaches deep for the core valuesliving close to the land, working with your handsthat have been obscured by generations of neglect, trauma, drug abuse, and desperation. This is a profound and important story that is only beginning to get its due attentionand Bill is its most visceral, essential chronicler.