This memoir of the Casey family’s fate rises up from the coulees and frozen tundra of North Dakota during the Great Depression and The Dirty Thirties. Will the son, Michael, prevail over the stink and guts of slaughtering chickens, picking up cow pies for burning in the kitchen stove to can the chickens for winter food? There is child abuse from a teacher, Edna the Virgin, with a thick wooden ruler, a violent rape in a bunkhouse in the dark of night by a John Deere machinery salesman. His mother Margaret’s pathos comes from having to feed and care for too many children. Her Irish Catholic husband, Matt Casey, only a generation away from the Irish potato famine, supports his family with his wages as a janitor from the local public school in Parshall. Matt will not interfere with the cycle of fate by using birth control because it is a deadly mortal sin. He is a good man, drinks not a drop, but carries the curse of St. Patrick on his forehead. Michael becomes an altar boy and serves at an infant’s funeral on the bleak Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, where the mother’s keening for her baby still echoes in his developing conscience. The prairie wind howls, and he hopes there is a better way. Sisyphus never had it so good.