he collection reflects the fears, anxieties and issues of America in the 1960s, especially in regard to the fear of a nuclear holocaust. "One of the astonishing things about looking back at old stories are their references to then-current political and social events", he said in the forums on his personal website. "We write in a given period, and that period seems to vanish rather quickly, so that all stories become historical the moment they're finished."  In another interview he stated that he never starts writing with a particular theme in mind—that an author’s obsessions at the time emerge naturally to form unity within a short story or a collection of stories. When he spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle, he revealed the reason behind his focus on the anxieties of American society at large. "I worry about everything in the world," Boyle says, "and it's just too much for anybody to think about, so I have my art as my consolation."  In the same interview he stated that it’s the stable things in his life—his wife, children, same teaching post for the thirty years, the same agent—that enable him to focus on his art. The title story of this collection was inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s song "Spirit in the Night". Boyle himself is a musician and once aspired to play rock music. For a short while he played saxophone in a band called The Ventilators, although they never recorded. Greasy Lake is also reminiscent of Boyle’s years as a "rebellious punk". The often flamboyant outcomes of his stories are a result of his personal theory about writing—that like music, it is ultimately a form of entertainment. He believes that reading has declined in American because stories have become a high art that is incomprehensible to the average person. To him, a story has failed when it requires a critic to mediate between the reader and author. Rather, a story should be approached as something done for leisure or pleasure—not as a school chore. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Boyle states, "My ambition is to make great art that is appealing to anyone who knows how to read."
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