The first book of his I read was Joe.
It was dark, bleak, disturbing, and very well written. The characters were rural and poor, sometimes very rural and poor. So I read some more of his books. They were all like that.
I thought he had a terrific imagination. Then I read On Fire, a book of essays. These essays seemed to be written in between fire fighting-stints. To be honest, some of it read like he was at a point in his career where they would publish anything, even warm up excerises or personal journal entries. Most of the essays were about being a fire fighter, as well as his family, hunting, and pets. When I read about him and his wife fighting over the shotgun, and some horrible tragedies in his past, I realized he didn't have to go very far to make stuff up.
Later, I met someone who was his tour escort once. He demanded that she get him a bottle of Wild Turkey. She stammered that she was not allowed to. He got it himself, ending up drinking it sitting on the ground in a parking lot, and then went on to read a very graphic rape scene to an audience that didn't know what it was getting into.
At least that was the way the tale was told to me. Judging from On Fire and the fact that he died at 53, it probably was.