Earl, a 20-something Southern kid, is adrift in life. After his father's death, his mother - who can no longer deal with him - sends him to live with his grandmother in Memphis. His grandmother, getting senile and paranoid, turns him out on the streets of Memphis and from there his path leads him to New York City. In New York, Earl works as a hustler, then as a kept boy, but ultimately fails at both. Addicted and lost, he ends up on a train back to Omaha, where his mother keeps her door closed against him. With nowhere else to go, Earl ends up walking the grounds of a local carnival where he meets Red, an enigmatic 20-something man to whom Earl tries to attach himself, only to have Red slip away. Now the obsession with Red is the only thing driving him and Earl takes off to find this man whom he barely knows.
As the narrative moves backward and forwards in time, Troublemaker slowly reveals the truth about Earl, his past, his family, and his driving obsession with Red. Moving, compelling, and darkly funny, Troublemaker is about dislocation, obsession, and the search for affection. Pera's debut is a tour-de-force of voice and structure, marking the emergence of a major young writer.