The plot concerns Clay Loudermilk, a young man who, upon seeing his ex-wife in a skin flick note at the local porno theatre, sets off on a mission to find her in the big city. Along the way he learns a lot about life, love and loss. He also adopts a dog with no head and shacks up with an old waitress and her grotesque fish-daughter.
Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron contains examples of:
- And I Must Scream / Downer Ending: The end, when Clay has his limbs ripped off and is forced to live an immobile life of painting portraiture with his mouth. As well as having occasional intercourse with the fish girl.
- Eye Scream: Clay borrows a car from a guy with shrimp in his eye sockets◊. It is a therapy for an eye infection in which the shellfish eat the bacteria.
- Surrealism: The book's attempt to present a living dream/nightmare means it relies heavily on random coincidence, unrelated moments, symbolic imagery, and open-ended ambiguity.
- The Grotesque: The daughter counts as this, as her fish-like appearance overshadows her very teenage girl-like longings.