Atticus Lish’s new novel, The War for Gloria, is among the bleakest books in recent memory.

Set around Greater Boston, it follows a high-school student named Corey Goltz, who’s been thrust into the role of caretaker for his ailing mother as she progresses toward quadriplegic paralysis from A.L.S. Things turn violent when Corey’s estranged father, an abusive psychopath named Leonard, returns to take advantage of his debilitated ex. Part unflinching study of degenerative illness and part thriller, the book reads like something Denis Johnson might have written had he binge-watched all those Affleck-brothers movies about Massachusetts townies.