Burden, a twenty-one-year-old grocery store clerk in Walterboro, South Carolina, has two things on his mind: suicide and sex. Suicide because of overwhelming guilt for his role in the death of a beloved cousin. Sex because if you live in a small Southern town stuffed with unfulfilled wives and their vengeful men, it's got to be a great way to go.
Of course with such a plan there are bound to be complications: second thoughts, husbands who won't take the bait, and most surprising of all to Burden himself, the return to town of the one woman it might be worth staying alive for.
Burden's women are unforgettable: Maude, whose kneecaps can make a man fall to the floor in a swoon and married to the town's doctor, a much older man not possibly capable of living up to those kneecaps or the woman who goes with them. Pru, whose passion for afternoon lovemaking is close to insatiable, and whose long-haul truckdriving husband Eugene is rarely on the scene to accommodate. Then there's Jo, a different creature altogether - the woman Burden might truly love but who he seems to have let slip from his grasp.
Readers of Clyde Edgerton and Charles Portis will find themselves happily at home in this lyrical and funny novel with the feckless hero who keeps trying to end it all...but can't.