Richard Ford's one of the new southern regional writers who's as unavoidable as the heat or the chiggers. He's hard to get a purchase on--perhaps closest to Thomas McGuane in the atmospheric stretches which So intensify the fitful expectation of something (violent) which is going to happen. This takes place down around Arkansas mostly, moving across stretches of "pasty" desert interrupted by cheap tourist courts with seeping ceilings, beer bars, gas stations. It alternates between two young men and one very old one circumstantially together on a getaway island for hunters in the Mississippi. Robard Hewes, running the passengers over for a week, has itinerant jobs and commutes between his wife and another man's--the sluttish Beuna who's waiting for him in E-laine, Arkansas. She has no use for her baseball-playing husband since it's the only game he knows. Then there's Newel, quite another sort, a lawyer spooked by the memories of his father, Newel who's really "fucking up" as Robard naggingly comments; and Lamb, the former owner, now manager, of the island who's reached the point where "everything you were lonely for was gone, and everything you were afraid of was all around you." Particularly death. Ford's book is not everyone's but it's potentiated by a very real talent--broody, moody stuff with some strong writing in a landscape of desolation and slow time running out.