It should come as no surprise that I’m a fan of Eryk Pruitt’s writing. After all, he guest-edited Crime Syndicate’s third issue, and was a story contributor to the eighties-inspired anthology I edited, Fast Women and Neon Lights.
So when What We Reckon first hit shelves, a copy made it to the top of my TBR pile right away. Being born and raised behind the Pine Curtain myself, I reckoned the book’s subject matter would be right up my alley. Or rather, right down my red-dirt road.
Rest assured, it did not disappoint.
What We Reckon tells the tale of Jack and Summer, a couple of drug-addled con artists who’ve been lying so long that neither can remember their real name anymore.
In Pruitt’s own word’s they’ve “Snuck into Lufkin, Texas, in the dead of night with little more than a beat-up Honda, a hollowed-out King James Bible full of cocaine, and enough emotional baggage to sink a steam ship. ”
If your instincts are telling you that a beginning like that is sure to take some crazy turns as the plot plays out, well… you’ve got no idea. One thing I can guarantee you is this book will go places far beyond the unexpected, and will drag you kicking and screaming along for the ride.
And throughout, Pruitt’s knack for Texas dialog will impress you every bit as much as his ability to get into the self-aggrandizing, rationalizing mind of a sociopath will disturb you.
One of the things I found most interesting about the book’s protagonists was their ability to simultaneously have no idea what their own motivations are, while readily convincing themselves and each other that they know exactly what they want.
Jack and Summer, or whoever they really happen to be, are lost and blind not only to themselves, but also to each other.
That’s the problem with lying all the time—eventually you lose sight of the truth, and thus who you really are.
It’s the strongest notion I took away from this book. Who we are is far less malleable than we’d like to believe, and straying too far from our core can untether us from reality and lead to some very disturbing outcomes.
I highly recommend What We Reckon, both for its complexity and its sheer entertainment value. It’s the kind of book you won’t be able to put down, and when you finally do it will leave you not only a little suspicious of other people, but maybe a little suspicious of yourself, too.