This is the kind of book Charles Bukowski wished he could write but never had the sentence-level talent to pull off. At least, that's what I thought when I was about half way through. Then this book takes a sudden turn into insanity. Which is both good and bad. In the final third of the book, Johnson conducts a frantic dismantling of his characters -- Jamie loses her mind; Bill loses his freedom. But it's done in such a way that they are parallel sufferers. In fact, I'd argue the book approaches commenting on the way men and women living on the fringe suffer. And while the conclusion is not cynical, it does seem to linger on the experience of Bill and his brothers moreso than Jamie, despite the fact that Jamie's journey is, in my view, the more compelling one.
Worth reading if you like reading about life on the fringe -- expect drugs, miserable sex, and the easy mistakes of violent crime. Also, Denis Johnson writes some damn fine sentences.