Certainly not the first book to be written about heavy drinking writers and their exploits. The difference here is that Kinder lived the life, and he lived it with other famous authors like Raymond Carver, on whom he based one of his two main characters. These men aren’t heroes. They are juvenille miscreants with warped senses of reality and selfish streaks a mile wide. Especially the Carver character, Ralph, who can’t manage his money, his family, his marriage or his fame. He flails through life, ruining anything good that is given to him. The sad thing is that he uses his life as the basis of his stories. The question becomes: is life imitating art, or is art imitating life? He is praised for his unflinching look at regular life (much as Carver was), so he almost needs to continue the drama in order to stay afloat. It’s a vicious cyle that drives our protagonist to his wits end. He cries like a baby, and seems at time to have the common sense of a small child. Honestly, it’s bizarre. While there is very little plot in this story, it does give us an interesting look at a group of extremely dysfunctional adults that seem to have no sense of anything outside of their own lives. They drink. They fight. They screw. The original manuscript for this book was supposedly 2,000 or so pages, and I’m trying to figure out for the life of me what was in it. There couldn’t be any more scenes of them boozing it up. There couldn’t have been any more pathetic scenes of the characters talking about sleeping with each other, dumping each other and crawling back to each other. It wasn’t the heavy read I was expecting, but I was entertained by the whole thing–if not kinda depressed.