Paul Lyons’s third novel is a gritty, disturbing, and wildly comic story of street vendors, loan sharks, and long-shot love.
It’s the hot summer of 1988, Michael Dukakis leads the elder George Bush in the polls, and while the over-arching events of the political conventions are in progress, Hawk and the rest of the «button gang» sell their buttons first to Democrats in Atlanta, then Republicans in New Orleans. They sell, as always, to either side of any persuasion, offering a unique underview of the American political process, amoral hucksterism, and a kind of grubby capitalism. Hawk is a gambler-canny, streetwise, full of hungers and debt, beset by loan sharks and his girlfriend’s Ginsu-wielding ex-husband. His story explores trust-and trust betrayed; the ethics of the street-and ethics compromised. His story is that of an edgy outsider’s strategies for survival, solvency, and love.
Lyons draws an unflinching bead on a world rarely seen. Button Man is reminiscent, in its unnerving violence and biting wit, of the worlds of Elmore Leonard, Nathaniel West, William Kennedy, and Quentin Tarantino.
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