Timmy and Chowderhead and Peg are lifeguards. They spend summers sitting in those tall chairs, smoking dope and staring at the waves, swatting insects, tormenting seagulls. Winters they work shit jobs like unloading trucks at Mickey’s Deli. At night, winter and summer, they drink. Drink and get rowdy. Then there’s Alex, the girl who gets away, not only from old boyfriend Timmy but also from “Rotaway”-on scholarship to a rich-kid’s college in New England. One midsummer night when the four are reunited, tensions erupt in feats of daring and self-destruction during the wild, cathartic, near-sacred lifeguard ritual known as the Death Keg. Brilliantly capturing the restlessness and casual nihilism of working-class youth with no options, Jill Eisenstadt’s acclaimed first novel startles in its power and originality, its depth of feeling, its bright and dark comic turns.
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