STEEL TOES by Eddie Little


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A young life of spectacular crime and drugs nearly leads to a life of writing—but merciful fate and powerful addictions intervene.

Interrupting his hell-bent, breakneck narrative from time to time with threats of literary fiction, Little, who introduced Bad Bobbie Prine in his 1998 Another Day in Paradise, keeps threatening to turn Bobbie from a life of very hard drugs, punk rock, and surprisingly successful felonies to a less fevered existence as a writer, but the reader can only pray along with St. Augustine. Not yet. Please. Because when Bobbie does turn peaceable (as did the formerly criminal author), we will stop seeing with blinding clarity inside the smack-riddled mind of a brilliant kid doing everything wrong, which is a rare sight, and see instead inside the mind of a writer, which you can see anytime. Bobbie’s new adventures start up in 1975 in a hellish Indiana youth facility where it takes total concentration to stay alive and in one piece. The politics is racial, of course, and the resentment and hostilities make Bosnia look like summer camp. All Bobbie wants is to escape, which, after a gruesome battle, he does, fleeing with his mates across the Illinois line to hook up with some old criminal chums who have taken up farming and religion. Sort of. When his wounds have recovered and the rural life palls, Bobbie heads for New York to reunite with Sydney, the con artist whose treachery put him in prison after their last job. Syd’s moved up to white-collar crime, and she’s making bundles of money and living the high life. Bobbie, re-addicted to heroin, gets hooked on big money, big sex, and big music. His career path will give him enough polish to pass for civilized and, after some on-the-job training in basic fraud, eventually take him to Boston, where he will meet hard men and a college girl with a nose for literary talent. His graduation to really big crime leads, of course, to really big trouble.

You shouldn’t like this stuff, but it’s such a rush.

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-28291-5
Page count: 320pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2001