"These nine stories and one radio play are raw slices of rural life that cut to the bone. With the same assurance Benedict brought to Town Smokes , the short-story craftsman, product of a West Virginia dairy farm and Princeton, conjures up America as a land of desolation, petty excess, murder, rage and self-destruction. "Washman," about a hunchback who shoots a highway robber in a trivial dispute and then rapes the thief's girlfriend, assumes an almost mythical quality. The title story features workers in an auto salvage and wrecking yard who flock like vultures to car accidents. In "Odom," a hill-dweller clearing his homestead with dynamite becomes a metaphor for the violence integral to white settlers' conquest of America. Benedict's characters, beyond redemption, seek refuge from themselves in bowling alleys, saloons or zoos, places where senseless violence prevails. With every word precise, his writing has the hallucinatory quality of a pure, dark dream. "