The characters in this collection are spiritual outcasts, peripheral people in search of love and/or the meaning of life. Despite their odd-ball wackiness, Spencer wants to tell us that they are as vulnerable as we are. In the title story, Willie, itinerant sign painter working his way through Nevada and Utah, meets Libby, a pistol-packing bank robber. They stay together for a few days. He takes her on his sign-painting jobs, teaches her to play 21. They part. In "Endeavoring To Understand the Essential Nature of Things," a family story slightly less bizarre than others, an about-to-retire professor is being terrorized by a former student. Spencer's prose is humorous, accurate, compelling. He easily pulls the reader into the worlds he creates but it is difficult to care as much as he does about his characters.
1987 Short Fiction Award, Association for Mormon Letters