Uri is suspended somewhere between a "normal" existence and a descent into the bizarre and desperate world that surrounds him. Strained but strong ties still bind him to his odd assortment of adopted siblings-black and white and Korean-who include a school principal, an addict, a delivery driver and a corporate lawyer. At 42, he has lost his wife, abandoned his quest for a master's and manages derelict apartments of derelicts in exchange for rent. His one accomplishment was a bodybuilding title, Mr. West Side, and he still maintains a diet and exercise program. DeMarinis's exceptionally sharp wit slashes through the prose as Uri undertakes an odyssey through a world of kinky sex, drugs, high finance and the most vicious, most wasted dregs of humanity on either side of the border. The argument between a huffer and a doper over which addiction is better is brilliantly macabre. Alternately trapped and fueled by futile dreams of a better life, Uri stumbles, perseveres and survives. DeMarinis somehow manages to invest even the most degenerate of characters with recognizable humanity in spite of his savage and bitter satire.
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