If you're prepared to step into a not-so-well-known zone of emotion, turmoil, introspection, strife, heartbreak, and seemingly infinite, dogged self-questioning, then this story may begin to have a lasting effect on you. It is a brief but powerful exploration into a tumultuous, emotional maelstrom about men who have been at war and live its most personal aftermaths. This novel absorbs you, and if you are so inclined, produces an empathetic connection with you that may take a while, if it ever does, for you to break.
Dirty Work is a glimpse at a pivotal moment in the lives of two men who are seemingly brought together for an important purpose. Both are victims of war through devastating wounds; physical, mental, and emotional; and are also victims of the aftermath of their recoveries. They each lived through their physical injuries but found, alas, that their survival placed them in another type of war; a war waged in the way that people react to them and in how they are expected to act around them.
Being from different races and backgrounds, the main characters, Braiden and Walter, irreparably scarred by the Vietnam conflict, are brought together in the confines of a veterans' hospital and are initially wary of each other. But as they soon discover very quickly through their stories to one another, quickly imparting emotional and unspoken understandings, they are bound to form a special bond for a special purpose.
The short time period covered in the "present" part of this story is told amidst non-stop, brief volleys of story swapping and philosophizing from Braiden and Walter. They speak of times when they were young, while in the war, about times after their war experiences, and about their present circumstances. Their exchanges are gripping, and you come to know each of these men at a level that gives you something akin to an emotional bond with them. They stay with you long after you close the back cover of the book.