Elvin Bishop (first introduced in Slot Machine ) is a teenage creature of habit. Living with his mum and dog ‘Grog’ for many years, Elvin is not impressed when his ‘dead’ Uncle Alex turns up in his living room. Alex, the brother of Elvin’s deceased father, was ashamed of past transgressions, and asked Elvin’s mother to invent his death. Alex wants redemption by ‘fixing’ Elvin’s life, to make up for running off with the money left to Elvin and his Mum by his Dad. Elvin, however, does not welcome the life style changes which Alex forces on him, including a wave perm, tuba lessons, gym membership and standing up to his friends.
This is a well crafted and witty coming of age story, set in America. Lynch’s first-person narrative expertly explores the unusual relationship between Elvin, who is wary of, yet at the same time, in awe of the apparently well-intentioned former black sheep, Alex. As Elvin’s gradual improvement becomes evident, we see how Alex, a man who doesn’t have his own life under control, can ‘fall into the gumbo’ of someone else’s life and change it for the better.