Wildly comic effusions involving millionaires, cattle ranchers, and other citizens of a small Colorado mining town.
The novel opens with, literally, a rush—a wall of mud slams down the hillside, destroying a 40,000-square-foot house and several people in its path. Among those fortuitously not killed are Buster McCaffrey, one of Vanadium’s resident cowboys, and Dana Mallomar, who's having an affair with Buster behind the back of her husband, Marvin, an affluent businessman. We then back up more than 20 years, to the mysterious circumstances surrounding Buster's birth amid a howling snowstorm. Mother dead in childbirth and father having disappeared even earlier, Buster is farmed out to a series of dysfunctional families—so dysfunctional, in fact, that he soon learns that Cookie Dominguez, one of his foster brothers, is blithely trying to kill him. As he grows up, Buster retains a fundamental innocence and honesty rarely found within the confines of Vanadium (even though the townspeople think he’s responsible for the deaths of several of his foster fathers). One way Price chronicles Buster’s naiveté is through elaborate dialect, e.g., “Jiminy Christmas, what’ve ah done did?” Early on Buster falls in love with Destiny Stumplehorst, who inconveniently (or perhaps conveniently) is a daughter in one of his foster families. Even later, when Destiny becomes a drug addict, Buster retains a kind of pure love for her. Meanwhile, Marvin Mallomar sees both purity and potential in Vanadium, and he moves there with his seductive wife, Dana. And if these personal complications are not enough, hypermasculine cowboy Jimmy Bayles Morgan, who’s there on the night of Buster’s birth, and Sheriff Shep Dudival, whose historical memory helps re-create much of the story, help complete the ensemble.
The comedy here is broad, farcical, and frequently forced—more amusing to the author, perhaps, than to the reader.