John Conner has lost his girlfriend, his job, a scholarship, and has been kicked out of college. Instead of retreating back to his parents' basement and a life of mediocrity and factory labor, he decides to stay the summer in the college town of Bloomington, Indiana.
On the lazy Indiana University campus, Conner explores the worlds of death metal, zines, no-budget radio, and slackerdom while trying to learn about women, deal with depression, and get his life back on course. While he works telemarketing jobs and hawks glowsticks as a street vendor in order to survive, he learns who his friends are in the strange mix of people left at the college for the summer. The atmospheric and descriptive narration weaves the hidden beauty of the Midwest and the crossroads of the early Nineties into a timeless story of the follies of youth.
Conner's ramblings through the desolation of an empty campus parallel the meaningless jobs he must take to scrape by while he decides whether to remain sequestered in the relative comfort of college living or leap into an unstable world fueled only by his own creativity.
The first edition was published by Writers Club Press in 2000. Writers Club Press is a division of iUniverse, which is ironically located in Bloomington. The original cover photo of Showalter Fountain was taken by David Gulbransen, but the cover design was done by the publisher, and Konrath always hated it.
In 2004, a second edition was released on Lulu Press; it contained a different cover (with the same picture), and was available in softcover and hardcover. The first and second editions are now out of print.
In 2012, a third edition was released by Paragraph Line Books, in both softcover print and Kindle versions, with a different cover. The e-book was also released by Smashwords for other platforms. The third edition cover image is of a VW Rabbit, but is not the car Konrath owned in 1992; it's actually a picture of a car he owned later in Seattle.
An earlier draft is in the Library of Congress; it is about 20,000 words longer and has a substantially different final third of the book. An earlier version of the short story was published in Air in the Paragraph Line #8.