T. Coraghessan Boyle combines surreal situations with regrets about lost youth and satires of contemporary politics. The writing, especially the collection's cartoonish characters, is reminiscent of the 1950s pulp fiction genre of escapist fictional adventures and dime novel detective stories. The first short story "Greasy Lake" and its tribute to Bruce Springsteen’s pop song "Spirit in the Night"  emphasizes the superficiality of the post Vietnam War era in the United States. The frustration of individual characters and their particular decisions make this collection especially
The "Greasy Lake" characters, Digby, whose parents paid his tuition to Cornell; Jeff, who had a dangerous personality; and the "wanna-be bad" narrator relish their "Bad Boy" image. T. C. Boyle describes their "Bad Boy" behavior: “we wore torn-up leather jackets, slouched around with toothpicks in our mouths, sniffed glue and ether [...]."  The lake, much like the character's foolish desires, has turned into a lagoon of refuse with broken bottles lining its banks. T.C. Boyle’s reference to war is as vivid as the lake, “so stripped of vegetation it looked as if the Air Force had strafed it.”  The mention of General Westmoreland's tactical errors in Khe Sahn equates to the main character's disastrous misguided offense of losing his car keys. A moral dilemma occurs but is not directly exposed, since the characters desire a 'Bad Boy' image, T.C. Boyle writes: "There was a time when courtesy and winning ways went out of style, when it was good to be bad [...]."  However, an epiphany is reached when the "Bad Boys" realize that what they desire is not always a good thing.
"Caviar" is a peculiar short story, of a married couple involved in a "little experiment."  The short story is narrated