An arresting though flawed first novel, absolutely uncompromising in its insistence on forcing the reader into the semi-crazy, but completely logical, world of its protagonist, Dawes Williams (alias Seriphus Handsaw, the scribe, also alias ""Hyoot John,"" his bandit-slaying ancestor). The first part of the book, as Dawes grows up in Rapid Cedar, Iowa, somewhere between ironic redneckism and genuine hoodlumism with his various friends, is full of the ritualistic cursing and frat-rat attitude toward women, in which the tenderness underneath is not so much stated as assumed. It is the more accessible, culminating in a somewhat symbolic car crash in which everybody but Dawes gets killed the night before they were to leave for college. A jump of about eight years, past graduate school and into Mexico, finds Dawes alternating between freaking out tourists and reading non-chronological inserts of his novel (at least half the second part of this novel), much of which concerns himself looking at himself, but in a non-cutesy way, closer to schizophrenia than pretentiousness as is only fitting for a refugee from an institution whose drunken, anti-heroic intensity of vision is much akin to that of Malcolm Lowry. A hard book to read and harder to finish, but worth the trip if only for the brilliance of its unlyrical (though occasionally overwritten) language, and the pleasure of finding a character whose consciousness is decidedly not inferior to one's own.