Vea begins his story in present-day San Francisco. The protagonist, Jesse Pasadoble, is a former Army sergeant who's now made a name for himself as a criminal defense attorney. Haunted by wartime memories, Pasadoble has found a way to channel his anguish: his impoverished clients remind him of his suffering comrades, and he seeks a compensatory justice for what he and his platoon lost.
Jesse hated death. He did not fear it, but he hated it with all of his heart and soul. A year and a half of incredible fear in the highlands of Vietnam had been transformed into an almost anguished love the living, intact moment, the moment that can never be possessed. Like many of the men who have witnessed the best and worst in themselves, who have been given a glimpse of the end of their lives at a very young age, he had lost the power to be lonely. The power had been replaced by something else: a soul sickness; a hunger for beauty, but only at a distance. Though he could not love his own life and the things within it, Jesse hated death.His newest client is a 12-year-old boy, a child of the projects who's been charged with the brutal murder of two women. As the case unfolds, the barriers between past and present, America and Vietnam, erode and finally disappear. Meanwhile, Vea expertly marries the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez to his visceral accounts of battle. Indeed, whether we measure by the breadth of his imagination, the strength of his characters, or the hallucinatory power of his prose, there seems to be no novelistic terrain that Vea can't conquer. A chronicle of defeat and suffering, Gods Go Begging represents a paradoxical victory for the author--and, of course, for the reader. --Ted Leventhal