Restraint is hard to come by in Las Vegas; just go to any gate at McCarron International and people-watch. Today’s bright-eyed passengers surging from the jetway, filled with the certainty that their big score is just over the horizon, are tomorrow’s dead-eyed downtrodden, shame and humiliation blanketing their faces, some of their innocence chipped away. It’s not easy to leave Sin City with your dignity intact.
Some people, like Nick Danze, don’t even try. Protagonist of David Philip Mullins’s story collection Greetings from Below, Nick is shame incarnate, and being in his world for nine stories is like a two-week vacation in his desert hometown—exhausted, we leave with the sense that we’ve stayed too long and seen too much.