This is brutal, really, heartbreaking, funny, violent and hopeful. The violence isn't from big battle scenes but is instead very personal and unavoidable. This is also true for the sex, the intimacy. It is all heightened but not in some overwrought, untrue fashion but very in tune with the settings, the characters, what they are experiencing and their thoughts that we get to feel, not just hear. It is rare for me to actually feel anxiety while reading a book, especially one that has such length as this one does, but wow, it is always right there. It is sometimes almost too difficult to turn the page but then when you do, you may just be rewarded with a totally unforeseen whip of emotion, realization or acceptance. It may seem basic, but I think it's also rare these days to have an author that has the talent to truly allow the reader to have the same physical reactions to emotional happenings - you can feel the gut wrenching hesitancy, the bravery in the face of vulnerability, their own surprise at discovering something about themselves or the person they may be with at that moment.This novel covers nearly 10 years in the lives of the two main characters and when you look at where things started and where they end up, it's not only amazing in the gauntlet they've survived but that there is so much more to go. The supporting characters are also well written, will also surprise, sadden and make you laugh. You may think that you know what the ending will be but you will probably be very wrong, even knowing that there is a next installment. Brace yourself for that, for the beginning, the ending and the exhalation you'll have to muster to start that next book.How is this novel not more well known???? If you were hearing me describe this in person, all sorts of profanity would be tossed in for shear frustration in my attempt to truly represent this crazy, incredible, intimate, relatable and gut carving of a trek through the lives of these two men. Go on. Do it. Read it. It still has me out of sorts in the best way that only a book truly can.