From here, Michalski brings us to 1942 Baltimore as Stanley Polensky prepares to go to war. And though his mother gives him a magic herb, "burnette saxifrage," that is supposed to promise immortality, Polensky doesn't take her too seriously, and the next 20 or so pages propel us through the war, detailing the growing friendship between Polensky and a Midwesterner named Calvin Johnson in beautiful, naturalistic language. "He shivered when he was awake and he shivered when he was dreaming. His breath was staccatoed with shivers. He shivered when he peed and he shivered when he shat and he shivered when he shivered. Stanley would eat his shivers, if he could, but they would probably give him diarrhea, he thought, like everything else."