A two year old mystery. A missing daughter. A cross country road trip. Chris, an aerospace engineer, is on a mission. He abandons his life in Savannah and drives west. Along the way, first in New Orleans and then in Austin, he picks up passengers. Julia, a Czech woman fleeing a boyfriend and business partner, and JC, the daughter of a Baptist minister, who on a manic whim joins them and leaves her life in Austin behind. Displaced, in flight from their respective pasts, with Chris planning a revenge he may not have the nerve or the opportunity to exact, the three form shifting alliances and friendships as they drive across Texas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California. In Los Angeles, they rent a house in Venice Beach and explore the city—graveyards, art districts, the L.A. County Coroner’s Office, Catalina Island, bars, boardwalks, promenades, tar pits, dances clubs, flight museums. On Christmas Eve in a Holmby Hills mansion, the story culminates in a confrontation with the man Chris believes to be partly responsible for the disappearance of his daughter.
Degenerate is a road trip novel out of Kerouac and Nabokov, a comedy of revenge and satire about Los Angeles that brings to mind Nathaniel West and a story of love and loss at turns lyrical, hilarious and heartbreaking.
GEORGE WILLIAMS was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee and grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and Richmond, Virginia. He has been a scholar at Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conference and was the first recipient the Michener Fellowship in Honor of Donald Barthelme. His stories and essays have appeared in The Pushcart Prize, New Virginia Review, American Book Review, Gulf Coast, and The Texas Review, among other publications. He lives in Savannah, Georgia, and teaches at Savannah College of Art and Design.