You don’t want to get too close to T. C. Boyle’s characters, because he’s going to put them thru hell. Alma is a bureaucrat in the National Park Service, a bit uptight, self-righteous, and completely comfortable spending seven million dollars to eradicate invasive species from the Channel Islands off the California Coast.
Opposing Alma is Dave Lajoy, a successful businessman, dreadlocked, Type A, impatient and rude, who runs a PETA-like organization that opposes killing the invasive species, which are mostly rats and wild pigs. Dave and Alma hate each other, especially after their one date, years before, ended disastrously.
Each gets confronted with the consequences of their opposing views of conservation. Alma runs over a squirrel’s hind legs and watches it suffer. Dave traps some racoons who have ruined his newly sodded lawn, only to face the dilemma of what to do with them.
I’m a little surprised that Boyle tips the scales so decidedly in one character’s favor, but he does. Quite a bit of backstory from previous generations gives the story depth, including a wonderful shipwreck set piece that opens the book. More dark comedy from of the Writer’s Workshop’s more prominent alumni.