This 125-page book, told through 11 short stories, describes the friends, family, and enemies of Lucky Dick, a 20-something drug dealer living in Louisville, Kentucky. The initial story, narrated in first-person by Lucky, establishes his relationship with his mother, Katherine, with whom he’s estranged for her protection, and his best friend, Ray, also a dealer. After that, each story rotates from a third-person account about how Lucky’s actions affect others to another first-person account by Lucky. Each story can serve as a standalone piece, and seven of them were previously published in literary journals. Although a risky technique for composing a book, it works well here.
After Ray is brutally attacked by three rival drug dealers over $4,000.00 in OxyContin, he and Lucky commit an even more violent attack in retaliation. The next escalation will surely mean death for Lucky and Ray, who leave the state until things cool off. However, one morning Lucky awakens alone in a sleazy motel room and finds a goodbye note from Ray, a gun, and a bag of pills.
From there, Lucky travels on his own, heading west with only brief stops to sell drugs and maintain his motorcycle. Over the months, Lucky learns about the high price of life on the road and the devastating effects of isolation, criminal activity, and poor decisions. Despite his amoral behavior, Lucky is not a despicable character. In his first-person accounts, he considers his options and realizes the difference between right and wrong, but makes the wrong choice anyway. Glimpses of his alcoholic, mostly absent father help explain Lucky’s self-sabotaging behavior. Readers will hope that he eventually can mend fences with his family, clean up his act, and atone for his crimes.
Although the “novel-in-stories” concept pays off overall and provides just enough backstory to further the plot, in the piece titled “Nineveh” there’s a clunky information dump that should have been removed when compiling the parts into a whole. The work also could be improved with editing to fix typographical errors, grammatical problems, repeated words, and missing words. Though none of these are serious problems, they can be distracting and disturb the fluency in this otherwise excellent book.
~Carol Michaels for IndieReader