Returning to the inner-city losers and loners of The Rainbow Stories (1989), Vollman takes another very graphic look at the seamy side of San Francisco. In short, self-contained chapters, Vollman tells the story of Jimmy the Vietnam vet, down-and-out and surviving on his disability check in a series of flophouses. Jimmy is searching for Gloria, the whore he loves, but Gloria remains elusive--indeed, she may not exist--so Jimmy, an alcoholic and general all-around troubled soul, decides to re-create Gloria himself. Each night he goes out and finds a local whore who can give him something ``to help Gloria along with a splash of light on the ocean and everything moving and rocking and shining in the sun so God help me now because Gloria is the great sea those whore-fish swim in.'' One, Nicole, may have deliberately given Jimmy AIDS; another, Melissa, gives him her childhood memories; and Dinah, whose pimp spends her money on dope, gives him a lock of hair. As Jimmy continues his search, he meets up with old friends like Phyllis the transvestite, and Code Six, a fellow vet, while, in the Tenderloin district, girls like Candy and Peggy tell him their life stories. But Jimmy, like all losers, is doomed. Gloria, according to Code Six, materializes and ``drills'' Jimmy ``right on Turk Street. That's where he got lit up.'' The terrain's been surveyed before, and Vollman's fierce writing seems often more designed to shock than to elucidate, but poor Jimmy does have some credibility, even if it at times strained. Not for the fainthearted.