By Thomas Gaughan
Klinger describes himself as a resident of “San Francisco’s asteroid belt of petty crime and criminals,” never making the big score but never doing time in the state’s prison system. He’s bright and affable visiting his San Francisco-chic former lover, who has quit her day job, thanks to a phone app she wrote. But the $100 she gives him sends him right back to the Hawse Hole, a Tenderloin dive, where he drinks himself into oblivion doing mental arithmetic to estimate how long his money will last. A botched mugging tosses him in the path of Marci, another sexy, San Francisco-chic app shark who is obsessed with the big score and happy to make Klinger the fall guy. Nisbet, who has a cult following (Windward Passage, 2010), alludes insightfully to the dualities of America’s favorite city. Fortyish, homeless, alcoholic petty criminals colliding with well-educated, well-off, amoral, twentysomething grifters doesn’t completely strain credulity. The Hawse Hole and its regulars are fascinating. But occasionally Nisbet’s rhetorical flights, which begin thoughtfully and gracefully, go on too long and begin to seem like bafflegab.