Set in contemporary times, the novel features a self-destructive narrator undergoing an identity crisis. He lives in on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana. His tribe and his culture are clashing with a nearby white settlement and the effects of poor legislation. He moves through his days in a mental haze and tries to find consolation in sexual encounters.
He suffers from family tragedies, trying to deal with memories of his father found dead in a snowdrift, and blaming himself for his elder brother's fatal accident at the age of fourteen. The distant tone is set from the beginning, as the narrator's name is never given.